Ped's & Ro Leather Blog

Ped's & Ro Leather Blog

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tutorial: Building Watch Strap - Part 2

This part is for making the short end (buckle part) and the keeper. Slightly more technical due to the skiving that needs to be done and the overlaping part.

Let's start!

Start with shorter 26mm piece, which should be cut together in part 1.

Bevel the edge using 'edge beveler'.

Burnish the leather and apply beeswax.

Test fold the leather first to determine point of contact for the overlap part.
Once done, mark with pencil and start skiving.

Start with the buckle side, skive the grain part.

Now skive the flesh side of the other part that will overlap.

Slightly wet the flesh side to mark the punch hole for the buckle tongue (I use oblong punch) and
measured with ruler to ensure it's even from both side.

Start punching the hole.

I prefer to glue the folds in two part rather than all at once to ensure consistency.

Glue the buckle side first, use clamp to secure, wait for few hours until glue has dried.


Once the buckle part has dried, thin/skive the part where the leather is to be folded to ensure good usability (I only do the lug side).

 Now the other part is ready to be glued, secured with clamp, leave overnight to dry.

Once dried, smooth the edges using sanding block.

Using creasing tool, create parallel lines for stitching purpose.

Mark the first stitching holes using an awl, then create more using stitching wheels.

Punch the stitching holes.

The edge is ready to be burnish, apply two coat of gum tragacanth (first layer to dry, second slightly dry), then rub friskily with slicking wheel resulting in slick smooth edge. 

Optional step: apply clear sealer to preserve the edge further.


Use stitching pony to assist with stitching the strap, use the same thread colour as the long end.

Both straps fully stitched.

Now let's make the keeper!

I use the exact same leather to ensure similar texture and colour, the thickness will also be a perfect match.

First step is to measure how long the leather piece should be, do this by stacking two completed strap on top of each other and run the leather strip around. Try to underestimate as loose keeper looks undesirable, it should be a snug fit (sorry forgot to take photo of this step).

Once done, cut the leather to size then case it or wet the leather.

Whilst the leather is still damp, run a creaser tool to make a line impression. The impression will remain once the leather has dried. 

Rub the leather with a piece of canvas to burnish it.

Apply two layer of gum to the edge and rub friskily using slicking wheel.

Mark the holes for stitching using an awl. By pressing the awl harder, hole can be made. Stitch two part together.

I applied gum into the flesh side of the keeper to seal it so the strap can glide easier. I also apply sealer to the edge to preserve it. 

Done!! Test fitting keeper to ensure snug fit. Take a break and admire the work so far.


What's left now is to punch the buckle holes.

Use a ruler to ensure evenness (again, I apologise, no photo was taken). Once holes is punched, seal it with a cotton bud soak with sealer solution and burnish them with the punch tool (top and bottom side). This will add to the durability of the strap. 

Test fitting a buckle.

Test fit in a watch.

Final words, the tutorial can be apply to other types of leather, but the process will vary. Use this as a guide not as a definitive process. This is only one way of making a watch strap, there are hundreds of other ways of building a watch strap which might suit your style better. My best advise is to find your own style and do things in accordance to your own skill. 

Having the correct tool greatly help the process and avoid frustration down the road. Persistent is the key when working with leather, it takes 10 days to learn everything about the leather but takes 10 years to truly master it. I'm on my third year and still learn a great deal about leather every day. 

This concludes the strap making tutorial. I hope this will help someone in their quest working with leather. Please feel free to leave a comment or two to make this tutorial better.

Tutorial: Building Watch Strap - Part 1

I've always wanted to post a tutorial about building a strap, it will allow me share my knowledge and showcase what is involved on making a watch strap.

This will be a photo intensive post and hence will be divided into several parts.

Let's start!

My first tip is to plan ahead and decides on style, finish and stitching style as these will determine the building steps.

The strap that I want to build will be 26mm wide, using screw in buckle and all around stitch. The strap will have a shiny burnish finish look. The edge will be rounded and to have uncoated burnish look to match

Base material is very important, I choose 2.5mm veg-tanned leather from the belly part of the beast, slightly softer and will have some stretch.

Building the long end:

Cut 26mm strip with safety ruler and chosen cutting tools (I use head knife).

Trim the edge using 'edge beveller'.

Burnished the leather and apply beeswax.

Thin/skive the part where the leather is to be folded to ensure good usability.

Fold and glue the leather, then secured with clamps. I prefer tacky glue
as it can be readjusted and dries clear. 

Normally, I will leave the clamp overnight to allow the glue to dry. During this time
you can work on the short side, but for the purpose of this tutorial I will continue on with the long side.

Once dry, decide on the end style, I prefer hand cutting with my head knife.

Bevel the newly cut side.

Draw a parallel line using 'edge creaser' as a guide for stitching holes later on.

I prefer this tool over groover to retain the surface tension of the leather. 

Smooth the edge out using sand block, I use 4 different grade of coarseness (one of the block has two sides), sand one way.

Use 'Stitching Spacer' to mark stitching holes.

I recommend marking the holes using an awl before punching it to ensure good visibility.

Holes punched (note that I only use an awl to punch the holes, this is to suit the style).

Next step is burnishing the edge, this is the tools I use (Gum Tragacanth, Slicking wheels in various size and canvas cloth).

Apply first coat of Gum, let dry, apply second coat then run the slicker wheel until smooth and has that burnt look,

Use the canvas cloth to smooth out the edge further and the part where the wheel doesn't fit.

Step back and admire the burnished edge :)

Optional Step: Once the gum fully dried, apply sealer to preserve the edge.

Edge all done.

Next step is stitching, oat colour is used to saddle stitch the strap. 
Use stitching pony to assist. 

Terminating the stitch (there are many methods of doing this, this is just one way).

Finished back side.

Finished strap minus buckle holes.

This conclude part 1 of the tutorial. Stay tuned for part 2!