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Best Way To Make Consistent Holes For Belts… Any Special Tools/methods Exist?

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Hello everyone!

I have read through a number of posts on here, and found some of the info invaluable!

I messed around a bit with leather projects as a kid, and I have always stayed a big leatherphile… If that’s even a word! NOTE feel free to skip my rambling and go to my actual question below the tools list if ya want!!!

I suppose the simplest way of putting it is, I’m sick of buying stuff that isn’t built over the top enough for myself! I want super thick leather (maybe as high as 14oz) and the best solid brass and Stainless hardware across the board. My custom belt in 14 oz English Bridle I ordered awhile ago is great… Except the buckle that has the finish wearing off. Not cool.

So I want to make some of my own things… But more than that, already being self employed, I am toying around with the idea of starting a company. I think others will appreciate my overzealousness.

Leather crafting is fortunately one of those things where it’s not TOO tough to start out small, and work your way on up. You don’t HAVE top spring 20 grand for equipment right off. So I figure, why not? I know a guy who owns probably the best known “rock shop” in Seattle, so there’s my test market!

I could ask a million questions, but I think I’ll hold off and try to stay focused.

So my “idea” if you can call it that, is simply to start off with belts and bracelets. REALLY beefy ones. Simple enough. I’m probably going to start off with some plainish stuff, and some basic studded/spiked stuff. Researching the tools I would need to get going there’s a lot that’s obvious and comes easy. I do want to go made in USA or Europe for all of my tools if I can. Shouldn’t be too tough as far as I can tell for the most part. I also want to go 100% made in USA for all components, for the most part I think I have this down too, but that’s another story entirely!

- Drive punch for doing the end of the belt. There’s the multiple size in one tools, and the specific size. I could go either way, but it’s simple enough. Osborne, unless someone suggests otherwise for this or any of their other tools.

- The oblong punches for the belt buckle prong. Edger. Mallets, grommet, rivet, and snap setters. Osborne.

- Nifty hand hole cutter for doing nailheads. Check, although not sure if made in USA.

Other misc things, I think I have them all tracked down.

The thing that’s killing me though, is something to streamline and make consistent the holes for the belt. Maybe I’m over thinking it, but it seems like it’s going to be tough to get perfect spacing and perfect centering consistently, and I want my stuff to be perfect. In my research to seems like there’s no “in between” tool for this. As in it’s either straight up hand done, or you’re buying an expensiveish machine.

Weaver Leather has a “self centering” guide that looks like it would work for doing single row. It apparently adjusts to the strap width and helps you lock in on where stuff needs to be. Hard to tell from the pictures, but it seems like it might work. Anyone have any experience?

So that should work, maybe, for single row holes… However I wanted to do some 2 prong belts as well. It looks like the way it works is the fit to the width of the belt by pushing the tool against the edges of the belt, and that centers it. So I can’t see where it could do rows of 2 as they don’t mention there being a multi row option.

The only other method I’ve seen is to make templates. A cardboard template would just go too quick, but is making a thick plastic template a viable way to do this? Metal sounds cool, but I could see that damaging the leather and being a pain to make. I’m somewhat handy, but I don’t have all the tools to drill steel plates or whatever laying around. I think I could manage finding some 1.5” wide plastic piece and getting some perfectly spaced holes in it though.

So, what do you other guys out there do to get consistent holes in your belts??? Especially double prong holes, as I think the Weaver thing might work for single. I haven’t got their catalog with pricing, and am weary of placing a 500 dollar minimum first order to get going, but I COULD order from them as I submitted with my other companies EIN to get their catalog. A good alternative sounds lovely though, either in method, or simply in retailer!

The other option that had hit me is ordering sides from someone like Weaver and having them do a lot of this stuff in my leather of choice. But I like the idea of saving the money and doing it myself, even though I’m sure I’ll be making 2 bucks an hour for my trouble because their operation is so much more efficient with all their machines. Also I just want to learn how to do it all for the sake of knowing how it works!

Thank you guys in advance for your help, and sorry for writing such a novel! I hope I get some good advice from all of your really experienced guys that are on here!


PS I thought about the user name after the fact, and given the reputation Seattle has, and the alternative meanings of being a “Leather” in certain contexts… Not my bag! Definitely not into any crazy bondage stuff, just so ya know :)

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Try Ohio Travel Bag for hardware.

User on this site, itch, has a new hand operated machine for punching all the holes at one time, as weel as the end, I believe. Sure he can help.

For templates, check with Black River Laser and they can make you just about any pattern/guide you need at a very reasonable price. They also have some ready made templates with various hole spacings for many different projects. Check their site and see all the goodies.

Osborne Tools are very good and if you shop around the net, you will probably find some attractive pricing as well.

Hope this helps.

God Bless.


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Hello Ray, thanks for the response. THANKS A LOT! Just checked out Black River Laser's website and I think I will definitely want to get in touch with them. The potential for their products goes far beyond belt ends, and the prices do sound extremely reasonable.

I tried doing a forum search to see if anything came up for this machine Itch makes, but I didn't find anything. Perhaps I used the wrong keywords if it's been discussed on here before. Does anyone have a link to a thread where it's being discussed, or any thread where he posted so I can make sure I'm getting in touch with the right user via personal message.

I do have Ohio bookmarked, as I think they had a few things that might be good for getting started. Also I just FINALLY tracked down some more parts in SS I hadn't been able to find in reasonable quantities for my prototyping, and if I can get this stuff figured out I think I am all set!

Thanks again Ray, very useful information!

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Black River Laster also offers their standard templates on eBay. If you just want to pick up one of their belt end sets and maybe a couple others, that is a good way to go. Joyce ships very quickly.

Ohio Trave Bag is a great resource. If you don't have a business tax ID, you do have to call them to get an account but it's worth it to be able to order from them. Another great option is buckleguy.com A bit more pricy then OTB, but better quality.

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Here is a video that we made in our shop..My Amish friend makes this machine..

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Thanks for the additional info! Black River is definitely getting a call from me.

So Itch, what did that guy cost you? I'm sure it's not insanely expensive, but I may hold off just to get things going on the cheap even if it's pretty reasonable. Maybe start off with templates, and then get that lovely machine. If I get even half way into doing this stuff I would definitely want to add that thing to the arsenal! But if it's cheap enough it could be tempting to do it right off the bat too...

A couple questions, where can you buy one? Is there a website? The questions below would be great to have answered, but I can always ask the guys who make it if I get in touch too!

Looks like the width of strap it takes is adjustable?

It looks like you can set it up for different numbers of holes/spacing, but I'm guessing that's something they have to make for you? Although I imagine you could pull some of the punches to increase or decrease the number though. I guess it would all be in the template design what you could/couldn't do with a single template by removing punches.

It looks like there's a "stop" for putting the end in there, but it also looks like you could easily put the belt above that moving part... I'm wanting to do double prong belts, and with a double prong template it looks like you could carefully line up the previous set of holes (as the punches are about to strike again) with the punches and run a whole belt through that thing. If you've not done it does it sound feasible? That would be able to crank through a double prong super fast!

I also imagine you can order different shaped ends, but is that something you can just change out by unscrewing the punch on the end and putting in another? It looks like that may be the case, but I can't quite tell from the video.

Thanks a million already, and I look forward to hearing back!

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Here is the fellas address he builds machines to last a lifetime..The press with shipping from New York to Tennessee was $498.00

Dan D Byler

7503 Burdick Rd.

Dewittville,NY 14728

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Thank you very much Itch, I know that information will come in VERY handy. Weaver's tool that does the same thing (and probably no better) runs north of 1500 bucks!

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