Checking friends and family off your holiday shopping list can be quite a feat. Making a handmade gift (the epitome of thoughtfulness, resourcefulness, and ingenuity!) for friends and family is nearly impossible. Each year, many of us have lofty hopes of making gifts for loved ones but usually settle for a handmade card instead. Not as impressive. Enter this simple handmade project. With the help of a metal stamp set and a relatively steady hand, you can transform blank leather strips into custom key rings for each name on that daunting list. Buttery, luxurious leather (deceivingly so—it’s under $20), hand monogrammed with a loved one’s name, initials or a significant date? We would argue that few store-bought gifts can top that.
This project makes for the perfect assembly line craft. Gather your supplies, clean off a flat surface, carve out an hour of a weekend afternoon, and make multiples! The supplies listed below yield 10 key rings and come in around $60 (yes, that’s just $6 a pop).
What You Need:
- Key rings ($3.19 for 10)
- 1/4 inch metal alphabet set ($21.99)
- 3/4 inch Leather Strips ($17.99 for 72 inches)
- Leather punch ($14.74) or Japaneses screw punch ($16.21)
- Screw posts ($6.89 for 10)
- Sharp scissors
- Optional: Ruled cutting mat
Step 1: Trim 3/4 width leather strips to desired length. These projects use strips that range from 5-7 inch long strips.
Step 2: Lay your leather strip on a flat surface – preferably a cutting mat- leather side up, softer/suede side down. Map out your monogram—I start stamping 3-4 inches from the left-hand side of the strip and prefer to leave about .5 – 1 inches of free space on the right-hand side.
Step 3: Stamp away! Affix desired letter to the metal setter (some stamp sets have detachable setters, others are made extra long and don’t need one) and place directly over the spot you wish to stamp. Using the hammer in one hand and anchoring the stamp in the other, apply 2-3 fast and swift hits. Trick: you want to keep your wrist locked and apply force to the center of the top of the setter (don’t come at it from an angle, you want to be right on top of it!). Continue stamping until word or monogram is complete.
Step 4: Punch holes for hardware. Create two holes at the other end of your leather strip. Using the screw punch or leather punch, punch a hole 1 inch from the end of the strip. Create another hole 2 inches to the right of the first hole. Both holes should be centered. I used a hole punch with an 1/8 inch bit.
Step 5: Slip the key ring onto the leather strip and let it rest between the two holes you’ve just punched. Insert the shorter/flatter end of the screw post into one hole, and the longer (in this case t-shaped) end into the hole closest to your punched letters (flat/shiny side facing up). Fold leather so both ends of the screw cap meet, capturing the ring between the two ends. Close screw posts and hammer 2-3 times to secure.
Step 6: Using sharp scissors, trim the front and back of your leather strip as you see fit. I trimmed the back of my key rings to measure .5 inches.