Welcome back to Friday DIY, where we spend hours making everyday things, because shopping in stores is for quitters. This week's project is a leather belt, and I was lucky enough to be schooled in the art of belt making by a young man named Maximum Cohen.
A few years ago, Max learned how to make belts from a lifelong professional belt-maker who is now in her 80s. He now runs his own small business selling hand-crafted belts and small leathers goods like wallets, too. I'm a total autodidact when it comes to crafting — most of my knowledge of leatherwork, like my knowledge of knitting, sewing, and pattern-drafting, comes from a) books and b) practice, and my skills can therefore be uneven — so it was a pleasure to work with someone trained in this craft. You know, an actual professional. Max showed me into his Williamsburg studio space, where the walls are lined with elaborate tools, sample belts, and product prototypes, and he proceeded to explain, step-by-step, everything I needed to know about leather, belts, and belt-making. Although he uses a few key pieces of specialized equipment to make the belts he sells, Max was happy to show me how to make a belt in a slightly down-and-dirtier, DIY, at-home kind of way.
Making a belt isn't actually all that complicated — after all, a belt is just essentially a long leather strap attached to a buckle at one end — but it does involve some simple measuring and some tools that you probably have lying around already (with the possible exception of an awl). (But if you don't have an awl I would strongly encourage you to get one. They're so useful around the house! And then you can make this bag or this bag or anything else you want out of leather.)