Tooling A Leather Strap/Making One-Of -A -Kind Leather Sandals

I can’t wait to get out of socks and boots and into sandals! Here I made tooled one-strap sandals for my children’s grandmother who lives on the other side of the world in Chile, they are in the middle of summer now…

Tooling leather straps is one way of adding sparkle to your leather projects. It’s taken me so long to find out about all the different ways to decorate leather that I thought I document whatever new I learn with each project I undertake.

Here is one way to tool leather to get the look you see on the sandals above.

What you need for tooling leather straps

  • leather stamps, huge choice available
  • mallet
  • a hard rubber mat, to protect your surface and absorb some noise from striking the mallet
  • eco-Flo Antique gel
  • a piece of felt and a wooden block or similar to wrap the felt around
  • beeswax to finish the leather

Unless you have a big piece of leather, it’s best to get a veg tan leather belt intended for belt making. They are available in different widths. Mine is 3/4 in wide. Most leather suppliers sell them, you can also find them on eBay.

If you need to cut your strap it’s easiest done with a strap cutter.

How to tool the leather straps

tooling leahter straps

Step 1: Immerse the leather in warm water for a couple of seconds, take it out and let the water soak into the leather for an hour or so. This is to soften the leather and get it ready for stamping.

Step 2: Hit the stamps with a mallet 2-3 times to make deep impressions into the leather.

tooling leahter straps

Step 3: Now to dye the strap I used a felt wrapped wooden block. Coat the felt with antique gel, be careful only apply a bit of paint with a wool dauber or paint brush. You don’t want the dye to seep into the tooling. Repeat applying dye until you achieved the colour you want.

tooling leahter straps

Step 4: With a piece of fabric wipe away excess dye.

Step 5: Let the strap dry and finish it with beeswax to protect the leather and enhance its beauty.

Here are other decorating techniques I wrote about like batik on leather and pyrography (burning a design into leather).

I describe how to make the one-strap sandal in my book on sandal making, check it out if you like.

tooled leather sandals

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