Leather Keychains

One of the things I love about making things is that it provides great inspiration for meaningful gifts.

I originally made a couple of these for myself using some brass button studs that I already had and plain silver-colored keyrings. I thought they would make a nice little Christmas gift for family and friends, so I ordered some 21mm brass keyrings to match the button stud hardware.

I don't have too many pictures of the process here, but I did take some video that I may edit and post to YouTube — and here — in the future.

The leather is treated with neatsfoot oil, which I enjoy using on this bare leather. It significantly darkens the leather, and makes it a bit softer and more supple as well.

I cut out some strips of leather by hand, but wanting to make a lot of them — and having been interested in trying out cutting leather with a laser cutter — I later went over to a friend's place and we cut out a bunch with his industrial laser cutter. I'll share details about that in a separate post.

Keychains made from Leather
Hand-cut strips on the left, and some finished laser-cut keychains.

The design is simple. Two small holes are punched in a squared end of the leather strip. These are fastened around a key ring by the screw-end of a button stud. The other end of the leather strip is gently rounded on the corners, and a hole is punched and slitted1 to receive the button stud.

The hole for the button stud is sized to be just larger than the shaft of the stud, and the slit allows clearance for the leather to pass over the head of the stud. The holes on the opposite side are sized just larger than the button stud's screw diameter. In my case, this was 2mm for the screw holes and 3mm for the slitted hole.

It's important that the slit be made in the opposite direction of the tension that will be primarily applied to it, so it will not come easily undone when the leather ring is being pulled.

  • Hand-cut keychain blanks, laid out before oil treatment and assembly.
    Hand-cut keychain blanks, laid out before oil treatment and assembly.
  • Testing out neatsfoot oil and dark dye.
    Testing out neatsfoot oil and dark dye.


WUTA is a reputable seller of leather tools and accessories that I have had a pretty good experience with. You can find cheaper prices on some commoditized items, but I find WUTA to be a pretty good choice in general.

  • WUTA Button Studs
    A selection of colors and sizes from a reputable shop. Good price, but not the cheapest on AliExpress.
  1. Custom tools to do this in one step do exist, but I punched a hole and used a knife to cut the slit. This works well, but I found it harder than expected to do perfectly. It takes some skill and practice to get it perfectly centered, stright, sized nicely, and not cut too far or nick the opposite side of the hole.↩︎
Published on January 8, 2024