In this latest short video, I show you how to prep belts for tooling. When tooling belts, they will usually want to stretch some because of the stamping process. This is the method that I use on virtually all the belts that I make to help prevent this.
Many leatherheads will use a heavy packing tape on the back of the belt blank and then remove it when the tooling is completed. I find the tape a bit hard to deal with so I use poster board strips in my belts. I find the added body that it gives my finished belts a nice plus.
This is a short video just to show you how I prep my belts for tooling and should clear up some of the questions that I get concerning this important step. Thanks so much for checking it out and I hope it offers value in your shop!
If you are interested in more information about making custom belts, I offer a short ebook that shows my entire process available for $5. Click this link to purchase “Custom Belt Design and Layout”
Everyone has a different process when it comes to slicking leather edges on their leather projects. There are always more than a few ways to skin a cat, but this is the process that I use and it works well for me. Continue reading →
One of the biggest issues involved in making a custom belt is getting the belt blank cut to the right length. Everyone has their own way of coming up with that measurement, but this is how to measure belt size.
Getting a Proper Measurement
“How do I figure out how long to cut the belt based on the belt size the customer gives me?”
“Can I use their pant size to figure belt length?”
“Is there some kind of belt size chart?”
First, I don’t accept a pant size or a marked size off the belt they wear. This leaves too much to chance and more times than not will leave you remaking a belt. The belt they are wearing may be a 36” but they may be wearing it in the tightest hole. This would mean, depending on the hole spacing and number of holes on the belt, that they are probably closer to a 34”.
I’m sure there are some useful belt size charts that you can find on the web. The problem with these charts is like I said above, the chart doesn’t take into account what hole the person is using on the belt. I don’t feel comfortable using a chart to produce a belt for a customer. It leaves too chance and I feel more confident with an actual measurement like the one I will show you here.
For all my customers, I make them measure the belt they wear currently. This is important! Not a belt they use to wear or one their husband wore in high school, but a belt they wear now. Many a wife has been trying to surprise hubby for an anniversary and snags a belt out of his closet and brings it to me to measure and he hasn’t worn that belt in 15 years. Now, in her eyes he is still the slim waisted stud he was then, but based on the fact that his new belt I made him didn’t fit, Mr. Stud put on a bit of post marital mass. Keep your remakes to a minimum and demand a good measurement period.
How do we get a good measurement? I measure, whether me doing it or letting them do it, from the bend to the hole they wear the belt in with the buckle style they will use. Let’s define some key terms:
Bend: The point where the belt bends around the buckle hanger and snaps closed. This does not include the flap that folds behind the belt.
“The hole they wear it in”: This doesn’t matter if it’s the tightest hole, loosest hole, or a hole they added in the belt. Whatever hole they wear it in.
Buckle style: This is important because a trophy buckle will demand a shorter belt than a small ranger style buckle. It does not have to be “the” buckle so long as it is of similar style. All buckles are a little different but the style is the main thing here. Trophy buckle or ranger style.
Cutting Blank to Belt Size
Once you have stripped the belt blank off the blocked side in the width you want for the belt, you need to cut it for the customer’s size. I figure this by adding 10.5” to the measurement from their belt. So if they gave me a 34” measurement then I would cut their blank 44.5”. The 10.5” comes from 3.5” for the flap that folds back at the bend and then 7” from the center hole to the tip. If you want more tip to hang out past the buckle then you can make the tip measurement 8”… if you do this you would add 11.5” to their measurement instead of 10.5”.
I have used this technique for many years and aside from a bad measurement here and there I have had very few problems and my fit is good every time. This becomes very important when putting names in the back of belts or making tapered belts and keeping things centered and balanced.
For more information on making and designing custom belts follow the link below to purchase our new eBooklet! This booklet touches on topics from sizing to finishing a custom belt.
I want to thank all our customers for making 2011 a great year so far and with all this growth we at DGSaddlery are doing our best to insure the quality and timely delivery of all your custom leather goods.
With my time being better spent designing all the artwork that is requested on our beautiful saddles and gift items, I have very little time left to handle a lot of the day to day management duties. So as of last week Jim McFerrin will be in charge of all saddle making in our shop. Jim has been with us for five years or so and has built probably 90 percent of the saddles that have come out of our shop. Jim has over 35 years of custom saddle making experience and has used that knowledge to help us design the look and feel that has made our saddles the best on the market. With him handling the build process from time of order to delivery, will insure that our saddles quality remains consistent and completion is timely.
When it comes to small items such as custom belts, wallets, chaps, and other gift items, Jodi Finke will be in charge of all the duties there. Jodi has been most of our customers’ go to person and now she can devote more energy to managing those jobs to completion. Jodi has been with us for four years and is a true asset to our system.
Feel free to call the shop and talk to either one of these great craftsmen and don’t worry, I am not going anywhere… I will be at my table drawing and tooling. I will still be building saddles and other items, but that depends on what the bosses tell me to build when I’m not drawing.
Thanks again and we look forward to finishing the year as good as the first half!