View Full Version : leather punch?

09-19-2011, 12:39 PM
I need to punch some about 1/8" holes in leather.
What is the best way to make a punch?
The leather is thick and soft so it won't drill well.

09-19-2011, 12:51 PM
I've used sharpened brass tubing.

Paul Alciatore
09-19-2011, 01:02 PM
I had the same exact problem a week or so ago. It isn't worth the effort of making a tool as you can get a leather punch for $6.99 at Horror Freight. It has six different sizes of punches on a revolving wheel.

I don't get a lot of their tools, but for occasional use it is just fine. I punched two oval shaped holes (multiple punches for each) in a belt and both wife and son could see no difference between them and the factory holes. I did cheat with a black marking pen and, yes, I can see the difference.

If you really want to make your own, leather is fairly soft so almost any grade of steel will work just fine. You need a pad of softer metal or plastic to work against to help keeping the edge sharp. You will need to use tubing or drill a central hole of the desired diameter. It is sharpened on the outside in a conical shape. The hard part will be to sharpen it evenly on all sides so that the sharp edge is in a single plane. The cut plugs will wind up in the central hole and the back end is usually left open to allow them to self eject. Pulling them back out the front end would be difficult.

Mike Burdick
09-19-2011, 01:04 PM
I made one that works well. I drilled the appropriate thru hole in a piece of 1/2" diameter steel and beveled the inside edge. Then, without changing the setup, I turned down the work to the final diameter (in your case 1/8") for about 1 inch in length.

09-19-2011, 01:11 PM
+2 on sharpened brass tubing. Get the appropriate size K&S hard brass tubing from your local hobby shop, sharpen it in a drill from the inside out with an exacto knife held at an angle. Use the drill to spin it through the leather and I guarantee you'll get clean, crisp holes.

The only hassle is removing the tubing from the drill each time to push out the "divots."

09-19-2011, 01:13 PM
Another vote for the HF revolving punch if you're just needing a hole or two, every now and then.
I'm on my second one; broke one of the punches out of the revolving wheel in the first one. (The wheel is made of soft pot metal.)

...I'm thinking I paid less than the $6.99 for mine. But I could be wrong. Or maybe a special sale.

It's no high quality tool, for sure, but it sure is handy to just grab it and punch a quick hole or two, of any of 6 sizes.

09-19-2011, 01:19 PM
I made one by end drilling a piece of steel rod to the size hole I needed and turning the od to 60 deg.(included) to form a cutting edge.
It was just a single use thing so I didn't worry about trying to harden it.

+1 on the HF or hardware store leather punch w/ revolving head.

09-19-2011, 01:22 PM
I've got an old version of the rotary leather hole tool, has to be older than I am. But works great and is heavy duty.

Well worth having. I may only use it once or twice a year, but it comes in really handy and is a big time saver.

09-19-2011, 02:14 PM
And, you can buy a set of leather punches used with a hammer from Tandy Leather shops.

09-19-2011, 03:27 PM
The leather is thick and soft so it won't drill well.

It should drill ok if it firmly sandwiched between two pieces of hardwood.
If will drill better if wood working bits with auger style tips are available.
But the easiest thing to use is still a punch

09-19-2011, 04:02 PM
I use a sheet metal punch. It works much better than the leather punches anyway.

09-20-2011, 06:13 PM
So I decided to take the advice about an HF leather punch and went to the local store and bought one. It works OK for the price.
While I was there I bought a cheap deep throat hand sheet metal punch.
It works great on leather. Don't know if it will punch sheet steel but it was worth the price for working leather.
Next time I am near a hobby shop I will pick up some brass tubing and try that in a drill.
Thanks for all the suggestions.

Paul Alciatore
09-20-2011, 07:43 PM
You are as bad as I am. One problem and I make or buy three or more new tools, most of them after the problem is long past. I just have to have more than one tool on hand for the next time even it that is years away.

I wonder if there are any group therapy sessions for tool-a-holics.

09-20-2011, 08:15 PM
I picked up these punches for $5 total from a Craigslist seller. I went there for some larger-size combination wrenches (1-1/16" to 1-5/8", $4 each), and he talked me into taking much more. It wasn't a tough sale for him.


I doubt I'll ever need but one now & then, but for the investment they're OK to keep.

09-20-2011, 09:56 PM
One hole in a piece of leather?
Perfect excuse to buy a complete set of gasket punches.:rolleyes:

Don Young
09-20-2011, 10:11 PM
One hole in a piece of leather?
Perfect excuse to buy a complete set of gasket punches.:rolleyes:

If you could find a set, it would be good to get a metric set as well. You never know what size hole you might need next!

09-21-2011, 12:08 AM
I did a fair amount of leather working many years ago. The hand powered punches we used worked pretty well. Years later all the tooling was gone, and I bought myself another hand punch. It was crap. Since then all I use is sharpened tubing and a piece of wire to push the divot out. It does the best job.

Black Forest
09-21-2011, 01:09 AM
Grab the correct caliber gun that shoots the correct size hole. .22 .357 .45

Then walk outside and shoot of a round. Take the casing and put on your leather and hit with a hammer. For one or two holes it works great.

09-21-2011, 09:35 AM
That's a great idea!
I have boxes of brass from 22 to 50.
tried it and it works!

steel cases work even better

09-21-2011, 12:15 PM
One hole in a piece of leather?
Perfect excuse to buy a complete set of gasket punches.:rolleyes:

How can anyone live without a set of gasket punches? I use them all the time to make teflon & PE "thrust bearing" washers. Also, a great resource for making small punches is an old telescoping antenna, just pick your diameter!