leather wrap handlebars

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You might know I like bicycles… and probably more tinkering with them than riding them. I’ve had my beige beauty for a while now, and figured it was time for a refresh. It’s been a straight-bar, fixed bike for a while now and I wanted something more relaxing. I opted to loose the skinny tires for some Ruffy Tuffy 28c and put some swept-back bars on it. I went with a Velo Orange Left Bank handlebar if you’re wondering.

After the change, I was thinking about cork and shellac, like I did with my Raleigh, but realized it’d be a shame if I didn’t try my hand at a leather-wrapped bar. So, using the similar technique as on my Landcruiser steering wheel, I went for it.

To start this project, first measure the circumference of your handlebars and then lessen the number a little, depending on how stretchy your leather is. I used Horween Chromexcel and it’s got plenty of stretch to conform perfectly around the bends. Estimate your length and add an inch or two just in case. This will be trimmed off later.

After cutting the appropriate sized leather pieces, I ran them through the sewing machine with a 23 needle to punch my lacing holes evenly. This can be done with an overstitch wheel and an awl if you don’t have a sewing machine available. Once the holes are in place, it’s time to start wrapping. Tie a loop on your thread to keep it secure in the first hole and lace it through the inner end a couple times before beginning your lace sequence. I just looped heavy nylon waxed thread in a single-needle continuous stitch. It goes slow, and you’ll need to pull and tighten the stitch every couple loops. This works best if you can have the bar loose. If you’re using a quill stem, you’re gonna have to lace at least one side on the bike.

As you get to the end, get your scissors and cut the leather so you’ll have a very tapered end. You’ll cut your stitch holes off, but you can use an awl or a punch and make new ones. The leather ends need to be sewn together in a peg-leg fashion, so the material can be cleanly folded into the end of the bars. After feeding the ends into the bars and smoothing out any lumps, I tapped in corks from the hardware store to finish (not pictured).

 

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Knotted Keyring

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I was in the shop the other day and Jocelyn (of Beam&Anchor) said, “I love the long keychain thing that’s on the desk.” I realized later she was referring to the shape of the camera wrist strap, but that instantly put an idea in my head of making a key carry with a longer, maybe lanyard-like component.

So, I was playing in the shop with ideas and knots and leather scraps and leather lace and came up with a few attempts. Posting them on Instagram, I realized that folks might like one and why not do a DIY too?

It’s similar to the camera wrist strap, but with a twist. I wanted to get the ends on either side, while keeping a long loop in the middle, but having it tied flat with itself. The purpose of the loop is two-fold – one to be very visible when thrown in a bag or backpack, and two to be able to tie though a belt loop and stick in your pocket.

Start by cutting a 3 1/2″ piece of strap that’s 5/8″ wide. I’ve used a belt punch to round both ends, but you can trim with shears too. Punch a series of six holes that are large enough to easily feed your lace though.

Before lacing, feed a split-ring though the leather and fold in half. If you add the split ring later, you will mar up the leather. Once folded in half, you can start the lacing in the top left hole with a knot in the lace. Pull though to the knot. Turn the piece over and you’ll let the lace form the loop handle and come back up to the other side, top right hole. Once though there, you’ll spiral it down on one side, while creating horizontal loops on the other. These loops will wrap around your long handle segments and keep them flush and straight with the leather body. Once you pull it though the last hole, tie a knot at the very end and then tighten the whole assembly with all your extra forming more of the long loop.

You can customize with with more loops on the body, or a rivet like shown in the last pic, or use d-rings and feed split rings through them… Or any number of options.

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