Sometimes the simplest designs look the chicest, and these leather key chains are no exception. By combining a few quality materials, you can create a stylish key chain that will last for a long time.

I am a huge fan of working with leather. Even though my crafting with leather is usually on a small scale (key chains, bracelets), it is one of my favorite materials. It is durable, beautiful and classic.  Here’s a short video and instructions on how to make your own leather key chain.

What you’ll need

Materials:

  • Leather (6.5″ x .5″)
  • Small rivets
  • Key ring

Tools:

  • Rotary blade or craft knife
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Leather punch
  • Rivet setter
  • Hammer
  • Leather stamps (optional)

Let’s talk about materials. Leather comes in a wide range of quality and thicknesses. Upholstery leather is a good choice – it isn’t too thick or too thin, and usually comes in a variety of colors and finishes. I like to purchase small amounts of specialty leathers through this site.  Or, craft stores like Michaels sell bags of leather scraps that would work for this project, you can find them in the leather working section.

When buying your rivets, make sure they are smaller in diameter than the width of your leather – less than 1/2 inch.  The package I bought came with two sizes of rivets and a rivet setter.  I use the larger rivets for thicker leather, and the smaller ones for thinner leather.

The only specialty tool you really need is the leather punch. I picked up this one at Home Depot for around $8.  If you think this isn’t worth the investment, you can probably get by using a craft knife to bore out a hole in your leather (but this will be a lot more work).

Preparing the Leather

Take a piece of leather and trim it to 6.5″ x .5″.  Do this by laying a ruler on the line you will cut. Then with the rotary blade or craft knife, run the blade down the edge of the ruler until you are all the way through the leather. It may take a couple passes, but I generally find I can cut straight through with a rotary blade on the first pass.

If you would like, you can use some leather stamps to personalize your key chain. In this project I’ve actually used metal stamps (not perfect for using with leather, but I like the small size and precise lines they make) to add the words “Pop Craft”.

Next, you will punch the hole where your rivet will go. To find where your rivet should sit, feed the leather strip through your key ring and fold it in half with the key ring in the crease. Pinch the leather together and where both sides meet flat is where you should set the rivet. Put the punch over the pinched leather and make the hole.

Rivet and Finish

With the key ring in place, feed the male rivet through the holes of the leather as it is folded in half. Push the female rivet onto the end. Place the rivet between the setter base and tapper, and hammer into place. It is best to do this on a solid surface (i.e. concrete floor) to get a solid set.

Use a pair of scissors and trim the ends on a diagonal.  And your done! Your keys will thank you, and so will your friends as these make great little gifts.