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Leather Key Holder — Introducing the Redsmith

Hi Instructables Community,

this time I would like to introduce one of my favorite makers to you, meet The Redsmith!

To help him grow his relatively new channel we talked and agreed to publish this Instructable together.

The first project we would like to present is a very simple but stylish key holder made from leather. It is a really simple and great project to learn and practice your leatherworking skills.

We hope you will like it and give it a try yourself!

If you like this project please consider subscribing to The Redsmith and Let's Prep Together on YouTube and here on Instructables The Redsmith!

Who Is the Redsmith?

Hi! I'm The Redsmith. I am a maker living in the south of France.

I'm 40 and I've made stuff all my life. My grandfather was a maker, my father, my little brother and my little boy are also makers. So, I guess, it runs into the family's blood.

I mainly use wood, metal and leather for my creations. But, from time to time, I also try new technics with new materials, like glass, silicone or clay.

You can follow me and my work on Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Feel free to contact me here.

I hope you will like this project.

What You Need

Well that's obvious isn't it?

You need a few keys that you can organize in this stylish fashion!

You will also need:

  • leather (4–5mm thick)
  • leather dye (black was used for this project)
  • Burnishing gum
  • Sticky tape or painters tape


  • Bench vise
  • Angle grinder & cut-off wheel
    • Alternative — Metal saw
  • Metal files

Stack Em High

To prepare the keys for the following steps use some sticky tape or painters tape with the sticky side up to stack the keys. You should ensure that whilst doing so the keys are aligned and orientated properly. It helps a great deal if the keys have roughly the same length. You can also achieve an interesting optical effect if you alternate keys made from varying materials (Brass, Steel etc.)

Once the keys are aligned wrap the tape around them tightly enough to avoid any movement of the keys.

Rough Shaping

Fix the packet of keys in a bench vise (or vice) and use the angle grinder to rough cut the keys. You should pay attention that you do not cut the keys too low (like it was done in this example) or you will have trouble later when trying to use the keys.

Fine Shaping

Move on the to metal files and continue to shape the back of the keys until you removed the tool marks from the previous step and have a nice surface. Be careful not to remove to much material as this could reduce the functionality of the finished item.


Take a pair of vise-grips and use (preferably) a drill press to drill a pilot hole through the stacked keys. Enlarge this hole with a larger drill bit that is large enough to create a hole for the screw that you are going to use (e.g. 6mm — 7mm for a M6 screw)

Leather Preparation

Use the keys as a template to give you an idea for the width of the leather strip. Use a straight edge a fresh/sharp blade to cut the leather strip.

The length of the strip also depends on the length of your keys and a good way to determine it is to dry fit it with the keys to see what looks good to you.

Shaping the Leather

You can use a steel washer, coin or hole template to draw perfectly round corners.

Fine Shaping

This step actually consists of several steps in which you continue to shape the leather.

A utility knife or scalpel can be used to cut off the corners along the marks you made in he previous step.

Use a nail file or sand paper (400–600 grit) to smooth the corners until they are nice and round.

An edge beveler is used to create round edges. There are various sizes available and the wider the tool the more material will be removed creating a larger bevel.

Select a hole punch that is large enough for the screw that you intend to use and punch two holes into the ends of the leather strip.

Choose a Color

Choose a color for the leather like in this case an alcohol based black dye that was applied with a wool dauber.


As a decorative element you can add a groove that runs parallel to the edge. This can be done with an adjustable groover and a leather modeling tool.


The second last decorative step is also one of the most time consuming. To give the edge a much nicer and smoother look you can burnish it. In this case burnishing gum was used although you could also use tragacanth.

You will also require the appropriate tools to burning the edges. There is already a great Instructable on how to burnish leather edges which you can find by following this link.

The last step before assembly is to apply some leather polish with a rag.


All that is left to do is to assemble everything. In this project a simple screw was used but you can go as fancy as you like with brass, rivets etc.

You might want to remove or exchange keys in the future and if that is the case you might look for an option that isn't permanent.

Some Loctite will help keeping the screw/nut secured.


As was said in one of the previous steps the keys were cut a little too short which makes it a little difficult to insert the keys into a lock. So learn from that mistake and leave the keys long enough;)

We hope you liked this project and if so you can subscribe to The Redsmith and Let's Prep.


You can win one of my Ninja Rebar Shuriken and a Leuchtturm1917 softcover notebook along with some quality sketch pencils, a few of my channel sticker and a 3-Month Instructables Pro Account.

All you have to do is to subscribe to my YouTube channel and leave me a comment at this video and include "Winter has come!" & your Instructables username. You have until the 31st July 2016 1800 GMT to participate after which I will announce the winner on my YouTube channel VLOG. You have to be 18 years of age and provide a proof of age if you win (Only entries from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, USA & Canada are eligible to get the full package mailed (please understand that I pay for this myself), residents of other countries may only receive the Pro-Account).


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