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Picture of Personalized Leather Cord-Keepers
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***NOTE: This Insturctable was written as an entry into the 2019 Leather Contest. If you like what you read, are inspired or find it helpful, then a vote would be very appreciated! Thanks!

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Welcome! In this Instructable I'll be showing you how to make custom leather cord-keepers to help your headphone, USB, charger and other cables stay wound and organized. Not only does keeping your cords safely wound decrease clutter and mess, it also prolongs the life of your precious stuff by keeping wire twisting and bending to a minimum.This is a great scrap-buster project, and can be an awesome gift for those who like to keep their things tidy and their tech long-lasting.

I'll be walking through two shapes with this process. One will be a heart headphone holder, and the other will be a USB cord-keeper. I've broken down each step section into small steps, and put some extra notes in the photos if you need clarification! You can feel free to make these same pieces, or use this as a guide to make something special.

No prior leatherwork experience is necessary, and the leather tools pictured can usually be picked up at your local craft store and online. I'll be including some introductory information into leather stamping, dyeing, and tooling, so if you find yourself having fun I suggest joining in the great community of leatherworkers here at Instructables.

Thanks for joining me, here we go!

Step 1: Gather Supplies and Find Workspace

Picture of Gather Supplies and Find Workspace
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For this project you will need the following supplies:

Leather - I suggest veg-tanned, preferably 4oz or heavier if you intend to do stamping or adding initials to your project. You can use the soft, garment-grade leather, but that doesn't take to traditional hand stamping quite as well. The example pieces you see in this Instructable range from 4oz to 6oz veg tanned leather. Scraps will work wonderfully for this project!

Sponges or rags - these should be clean, make sure they don't have any color or dirt that could transfer onto the leather. I would suggest having a small pile of rags, you may need as few as three or several per step depending on how you choose to complete this project.

Paper - Sometimes it helps to sketch out your ideas beforehand, or even make a sample to test on your cord before using your leather. We'll be making a pattern piece, so white or construction paper would be ideal.

Stud - I love using button studs for my cord-keepers, but you can use a snap, ties or other form of closure depending on your needs. For this project I'm using an 8mm Screwback Button Stud, a photo of that is included above.

Leather Dye - I'll be using Scarlet Red and Coal Black Eco-Flo from Tandy Leather for this project. You can also leave your project with the natural leather finish, which will help make the piece more unique as time goes on, or you can choose to make many different colors to help your cords stand out

Saddle Soap - There are many edge-finishers you can use to make your ends look clean and professional, but one of my favorites is saddle soap. The kind I'm using is from Fiebing's.

Tan-Kote or other sealant - the final step, which will protect your leather and make sure your piece lives a long and happy life. This is also a Fiebing's product.

TOOLS

Leather Stamps - These can be purchased from many sources online, and are often found in large chain craft stores (and might just have coupons, be sure to check!). They come in many shapes and sizes, I'll be using letters from Tandy for this project. These aren't mandatory for the project, but I walk through the process of using them as part of the main procedure.

Scissors - Craft or paper scissors will work well.

Mallet - I suggest a rawhide mallet, or a rubber one. I opt for a double-sided mallet, myself. Metal can be dangerous to use on metal stamps, and wooden ones often lack the extra weight you need to make a nice impression with your tools.

Leather Hole or Rotary Punch - You can get these as small, individual punches, but I like to use the rotating one to keep my options readily available.

Edge Beveler - this is a leather tool used to shave the harsh angle off the edges of your leather to make them easier to smooth later.

Edge Slicker/Burnisher - a fun tool with grooved tracks to accommodate different sizes of leather. This is used to create a smooth, sealed finish on the ends of your piece in conjunction with a sealing or smoothing agent like Saddle Soap or Tan-Kote.

WORKSPACE

You'll want a clean workspace with no chance of color-transfer from the surface. It helps to run a damp washcloth over where you intend to work to make sure any leftover pigment, dye or debris doesn't interfere with your work. If stamping or tooling, a marble slab or countertop can help your stamps leave a clean, crisp impression and protect your table.

If using leather dyes, make sure that you have adequate ventilation! Some may require respirators, but I chose to use Tandy Eco-Flo dye for the sake of ease and safety.

Love these! Simple and handy designs :)
GoodThing (author)  Penolopy Bulnick3 months ago
Thank you so much! I love making fantastical pieces and such, but there's immense satisfaction in making something that's of everyday use. I hope it's useful to readers! :)