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How do I make perfectly-spaced holes in my leather with my awl?

Started by Rockworthy, February 17, 2011, 01:50:51 pm

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Hello again, I have another total noob question: I want to hand stitch a steering wheel cover onto my car.  I have been researching how to do this for quite some time, but there is so many little details it's hard to get all the information in one place. 

Once I have my pattern for the leather I'm using and I cut out my piece of leather, I want to make holes with my awl along the seams before stitching.  However, how do I make perfect holes the perfect distance apart, in a perfectly straight line?  Is there some kind of tool that can mark the spots for the awl, so that I don't have to just "eyeball it"? This is all by hand, mind you, I don't have a machine.

Thanks Forumers!


Three possible ideas.

(1) Dressmakers rule, it's a 4" wide by 15" long ruler with slots placed lengthwise down the ruler that you can line up with the edge of the leather and then use the ruler markings along the edge to space your holes where you want them.  Can find in most sewing or craft stores. Pro: easy to find and inexpensive. Con: you have to watch your spacing.

(2) Shelf hole drilling jig, the clear plastic kind, which has holes at 1/2" or 1" apart, can find in some hardware stores.  Pro: Somewhat easy to find (you may have to ask where they hide them in store). Con: Spacing may not be where you want.

(3) Buy a piece of plexi at your local hardware, but not the really thin stuff it breaks to easy, use a ruler (or set on a piece of graph paper) and sharpie to mark the hold spacing you want.  Then using a piece of scrap wood behind the plexi and a  drill very slightly larger than the size of your awl, drill hole on your marks and make your own template.  Pro: spacing exactly where you want.  Con: You have to be careful and drill perpendicular to plexi or it can crack and break.  And if you don't use a backer board when you drill, there goes the coffee table (oops).  (You can also use cardboard or posterboard to make test templates to check you spacing pattern, but I wouldn't use cardboard for your final template as you can see thru it to check your alignment.

With any of them you might want to clamp the template to you leather on a piece of soft wood (like pine) to keep it from shifting while you work.

Good lucrk.


I just cut a duplicate of the leather out of chipboard, then lay out all of my holes on the back side of that. Then I use some spray can fast tack glue(NOT contact adhesive) to just tack the leather down to the front of the chipboard. Once i'm comfortable it's positioned right, I flip it over and with my hole puch on the smallest die go through and carefully punch each one out.. Then you should be able to peel the leather off of the chipboard easily to do the finish work and installation to the wheel.


Or you get a leather Star wheel tool..

looks like a spur on an awl handle, you just roll it along a rule edge
and it makes the holes at equal distances.

I have one here somewhere, if i find it i'll take a pic.




You can also run the leather through your sewing machine (without thread) so you can get the spacing you want.


Quote from: CKKC on February 17, 2011, 10:28:52 pm
You can also run the leather through your sewing machine (without thread) so you can get the spacing you want.

This, or stitch both sides and hand stitch in zig zag back and forth.

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