Need to know how to make a leather backpack? Don't let the idea of making your own leather backpack intimidate you. Creating one is limited only by your imagination. It will take, at most, a couple of days to build one from start to finish. And when you're done, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you made it!
To make a leather backpack, you will need:
- 4 to 5 ounces medium to firm temper leather (chap leather will work)
- A steel ruler
- A sharp penknife
- An awl
- A hammer
- Lacing needles
- Pens and pencils for marking
- Copper rivets
- A hole punch
- Artificial sinew or leather lacing
A buckle for flap closure
- Determine how large of a backpack you want to end up with. It can be as small or as large as you want. Make sure that it won't overwhelm you when you wear it.
- Decide the height, width and depth of the sides, bottom, front, back and straps. The sides will determine the width of your bag. Take a couple of books, stack them until you're satisfied with the width, and make note of the measurement.
- Make the back piece longer than the front. This will create the fold-over flap that will close off the bag. It can be as long as you like, but make sure that it will cover the width of the bag. Also ensure that it will come over far enough to the front for the closure.
- Measure the length of three sides of the backpack. Add three inches to this measurement. Make a rectangle that is as wide as the measurement decided in step two. The length is the combined measurement of the three sides plus three inches.
- Take all of these measurements and draw them out on the back side of the leather. Butt the pieces as close together as possible to conserve the leather.
- Using the penknife and ruler, carefully score a straight line for each piece. The ruler keeps you from wobbling too much as you cut. It's essential to have straight lines when lacing everything together.
- Determine where you want to place the straps on the back. Mark and punch holes with an awl in the back piece and on the straps.
- Rivet the straps onto the back. Riveting is best done with a hard surface, such as a steel block or marble, underneath.
- Take the ruler and mark out evenly-spaced holes. Make sure to match them up on the side/bottom piece.
- Punch out the hole markings. Use a piece of scrap leather under the leather you're punching. It will make it easier to get a clean hole each and every time.
- Thread the lacing needle with sinew or leather lace. Sew the back and front to the side/bottom piece one section at a time.
- Cut a strap out of the leather. Make sure that the width will fit the buckle closure you have chosen. Cut a point at one end of the strap. Mark and punch holes.
Determine the placement of the strap on the flap. Punch holes and rivet it in place.
- Attach the buckle with rivets. Cut an oval slot in the strap for the buckle tongue to go through. Turn the leather back over the heel of the buckle, punch holes, then rivet it in place.
This is a very simple form of a backpack. It will last for years despite its simple construction. This is merely a starting point that opens up a whole new world of refining the technique to make even nicer backpacks. Enjoy your new creation!