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Picture of Handcrafted Leather Briefcase

So you are interested in making a leather briefcase? Well sit down and strap in because we are going to go for little ride. This is the first time I have ever worked with a textured leather, but I saw this piece of awesome Horween USA leather and could not pass it up.

This Instructable will show you how to make a gusseted briefcase. I have not gone into great detail on some of the leather working basics (cutting things out square, basics of saddle stitching, etc.). If you have not learned how to do a saddle stitch or use a carpenter's square yet, favorite or save this Instructable and come back to it later on after you have had a little practice to figure out the basics.

I also want to mention the amazing guys at Landwerlen Leather in Indianapolis, Indiana. The guys there have been a tremendous help over the years from when I was first getting started all the way until now. All the supplies I used to make this briefcase were purchased from them. I am incredibly lucky to have them a short 20 minutes drive down the road from me.

Let's get to it!

Step 1: Step 1: Tools and Supplies


Bare Necessities

  • Large carpenter's square
  • Cork backed ruler
  • Knife (can be a utility knife, Xacto, etc)
  • Cutting mat
  • Hammer/maul
  • Stitching chisels
  • Striking surface
  • Needles
  • Wing dividers
  • Scissors
  • Scratch awl


  • Strap cutter
  • 1" oblong punch
  • Center hole punch (1/8" and 5/32")
  • Round end punch
  • 1" English Point End Punch
  • Rivet setter(s) with appropriate rivet anvil(s)
  • Tapered maul
  • Ball peen hammer(s)
  • 4' ruler/straight edge
  • Diamond awl
  • Edge beveler
  • Front end cutters (for rivet posts)
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Misc circular stencil/mason jar lid
  • Center rule
  • Lighter
  • Rotary Cutter
  • Burnishing tool
  • Stitching pony

Not needed, but makes life a lot easier

  • Japanese style knife
  • Round knife
  • McKay knife
  • Trend Routing Guides*
  • Fabric ruler
  • Fabric tape measure
  • Anvil
  • Thin neoprene tape (serves as non-slip backing for tools)

* I love using these routing guides to help set out my panels on
sides of leather. It helps me visually see how much a panel is going to take up, and also be able to visualize the entire panel to avoid bad parts of the side of leather.


  • Waxed thread
  • Side of 5/6oz leather
  • Glue and/or Contact Cement
  • Burnishing agent (Tokonole, Saddle Soap, or Gum Trag)
  • Double cap rivets (Jiffy Cap Rivets 407D and 409D)
  • Brass solid post and burr rivets (size 12)
  • 1" Buckles (#3)
  • 1" Trigger snaps (#2)
  • 1" D rings (#2)
  • 1" Rectangles (#2)
Rinkrat19994 months ago
Can you show a photo of “Trend Routing Guide”? I don’t know what that looks like. Thanks
1234567guy4 months ago
can you use thread when you sow?
or does that make it even worse?
Such a beautiful bag :)
seamster4 months ago
Fantastic work!