I began making this particular type of keyring in about 1988 so I suppose I've by now made several thousand.
By following the pictures on this page, and the text, you'll see how simple and straightforward it is to make them yourself. The illustration immediately below
shows the shape and
the dimensions of it. The narrowest part where the leather is folded in two can be varied according to the dimensions of the split-ring,
but not necessarily, and mine are normally always 5/8".
If you are only going to be making one or two then it is possible to use suitably-sized scraps of 1·2 – 2·0 mm vegetable-tanned tooling
leather. You can use other kinds of leather, but it must be tooling leather if, as is usual, they are to be stamped either with initials or
zodiac signs, or indeed if any symbol or design is to be added. For greater quantities, say up to a hundred or more, then the ideal part of
a tooling hide is the shoulders, though not necessarily of the first grade, as the odd scratch and blemish can more often than not, providing you
cut the shape accordingly, be concealed beneath the initial or symbol being stamped over it.
In the illustrations above Fig 1 shows the shape as it is when it is first cut out. Next in Fig 2 half the shape is moistened with clean
water, allowed to soak in for a minute or so, and the chosen letter stamped in position when no moisture shows on the surface. When dry, coat
the initial only, with a resist such as Tandy Super Shene. Shown in Fig
3 is the initial stage of dyeing, commencing carefully around the impressed letter. Using a larger brush, dyeing the entire surface and
edges has been completed as can be seen in Fig 4. If you've done this correctly there will be no variation or streaking in the dyeing.
Referring to Fig 5, before the dyeing done in figure four is dry slip the split-ring over the leather. When it is dry, lightly apply an
adhesive, such as Solvent Free Bostick, to the flesh side of the leather, leaving free of adhesive about 1" either side of where the
centre fold will be so that the split-ring is able to move freely. It will take a minute or two for the adhesive to become tacky depending
on the temperature of your working environment. Fold in two and press firmly so the two sides remain stuck together. Roughly ¾" from
the fold punch a number 3 hole and fix in place a small double-cap gilt or nickel rivet to match the split-ring. Using a brush of suitable
size apply Tandy Hi-Liter into all impressions of the initial, allow to dry, then remove excess with clean damp cloth. Next, as shown in Fig 6,
punch No 1 holes around the outer edge starting about ½" down from the rivet, and about ¹/8" in from the edge, so spaced as to
give approximately 18 holes, with the last hole aligning with the first. Using ¹/8"leather lacing, start to lace around the edge
beginning as shown in Fig 6a, and when tied off, as shown in Fig 6b, tap the lacing gently
with a lightweight hammer on a firm surface to slightly flatten the lace. The final step is to apply a light all-over coating of
something like Fiebing's Leather Finish and it will appear as in Fig 7.
How to use letter stamps
Figure 8 shows the ¾" decorative alphabet stamps used to add initials to the keyrings. While in Fig 9 are some of the things
needed to complete the job. Note that by using natural lace you are able to dye it to match the colour of the keyring, and below are some