I have been looking into a few projects recently that require various lengths of Leather Cord. Let me share what I learned while researching my upcoming projects.
Leather Cord is a natural leather strip cut from the edge of a leather hide and either rolled flat, left Square, or rolled under pressure to make it round. Leather Cord is available in diameters/widths from 3mm to about ¼ inch. It can be made of Veg or Chrome Tan Leather and is popular in Suede.
From a drawstring, boot lace, one-of-a-kind bracelet, or fashion accessory to a braided leather rope or leather whip, There are countless uses for what we affectionately call Leather Cord. Let me share what I have learned on my journey in Leatherworking.
What Is Leather Cord?
Leather cord is a long, narrow strip of leather cut off the main hide and either rolled into a round cord or left flat, more commonly referred to as “Leather Lace.” Leather Cord, used in making saddles, bags, moccasins, and a wide range of other leather goods, is a wonderfully versatile product utilized by almost every leathercrafter worldwide.
Types of Leather Cord:
There are several types of Leather Cord available on the market. Round, Square, and Flat leather cord originates from a real leather hide and is one piece of leather throughout. Braided Leather can be multiple strands of real Leather intertwined into one thread; however, it is often thin leather veneer wrapped around a separate core material.
Round Leather Cord
First, cut in long narrow strips from a leather hide. Round Leather Cord starts square in shape; it is then wetted and rolled under pressure to take on a round, rope-like shape. Leather Cord is available in both Veg/Chrome Tannages and a variety of colors.
Flat Leather Cord
Flat Leather Cord is commonly referred to as Leather Lace. It is available in vegetable and chrome tan varieties. One very popular variety is known as Suede Lace. It is most often a chrome tan suede in vibrant colors. It is often used for everything from tassels and decorations on other leather products to accessories such as bracelets, necklaces, and other jewelry items.
Square Leather Cord
Square Leather Cord is cut in long narrow strips from the hide and left in its natural shape. Square Leather Cord gets both monikers “Cord” and “Lace” depending on who is talking about it or its purpose. Leather Cord can be used to “Lace Up” a boot or assemble the pieces of Leather to make a moccasin for wearing. Square Leather Cord is also popular in bag making as the pull-cord for cinching the top closed. It is also a critical part of Saddle Making. Saddlers needing to attach decorations such as conchos utilize square leather cord.
Braided Leather Cord
Braided Leather Cord is made of thin strips of Leather Cord intertwined to create a braided design and add a bit of tensile strength by utilizing multiple pieces. More commonly, however, Braided Leather Cord is made up of a thin leather veneer braided around a cotton or poly” core material. This allows the braided leather cord to be as thin as 3mm-4mm.
This video shows various colors and sizes of round leather cord.
Real Leather Cord (Natural and Genuine Leather Cord)
Real Leather Cord is cut in long narrow strips from the edge of a leather hide. It is then wetted and rolled under pressure to reshape it into a uniformly round cord.
Faux Leather Cord
Faux Leather Cord is capable of being made in any shape or color due to its chemical makeup. Being an artificial material, Faux Leather is naturally waterproof, making it good for use in outdoor furniture or accessories applications or places where the Leather may get wet.
Popular and Fun Uses for Leather Cord
Leather Cord is a versatile and fun material to use in making things. Combining Leather Cord and Jewelry Hardware makes delightful creations such as Necklaces, Bracelets, Anklets, Earrings, etc. Leather Cord can also be used in more practical applications such as drawstrings for leather bags to cinch top-load bags closed or as laces for work boots. There are limitless applications for utilizing Leather Cord.
Leather Cord Necklace
Leather Necklaces have been around since the dawn of humanity. Worn around the neck, they are commonly decorated with trinkets, or beads. There is unlimited creative potential when it comes to making jewelry with a leather cord. People often attach things of personal sentimental significance to their necklaces.
Leather Cord Bracelet
Braided Leather Bracelets are fun to make and tend to be conversation starters for some people. Using Leather Cord to make bracelets allows for the addition of little accessories to be attached to them. Worn on the wrist, they often have some kind of trinket or bead attached to the leather cord. Sometimes what people attach to their bracelet(s) have some personal meaning to them.
Leather Cord for Lacing
Leather Cord can be used in any application that requires lacing. From clothing and fashion accessories to tool keepers, work boots, bags, belts, saddlery, tack, and more; Leather Cord is an invaluable part of leatherworking.
Common Leather Cord Sizes
|Type of Cord
|Round Leather Cord
|0.5mm – 6mm
|Necklaces, Bracelets, Drawstrings
|Flat Leather Cord
|2mm – 6mm
|Jewelry, Bracelets, Fashion, Tack
|Square Leather Cord
|1mm – 2mm
|Saddle/Tack making, Weaving
|Braided Leather Cord
|2mm – 13mm
|Jewelry, Bracelets, Necklaces, etc.
Here is a helpful video on how to braid leather cord.
Leather Cord Related Insights
Leather Cord is a multi-functional material that has uses across a broad spectrum of industries, not just leatherworking. Three of the most common uses for Leather Cord is Saddle Making, Whip Braiding and Bag Closures as a Drawstring.
What Is a Leather Cord Called?
Leather Cord and Leather Lace are often interchangeable terms. They are made the same way and are often interchangeable in applications. Typically, leather that has been reformed into a round string shape is referred to as Cord while leather strips that get rolled flat or left square, are usually advertised and packaged as Leather Lace.
Are Leather Cords Strong?
Yes, Leather Cord is strong. A single strand can be made even stronger when it is weaved/braided with multiple strips of leather. The best example of this is the Leather Whip.
Are Leather Cords Waterproof?
No, Natural Leather is not waterproof; leather hide is naturally porous and making leather cord water-resistant requires applying waxes and conditioners at regular intervals. Faux Leather, on the other hand, is an artificial material that is non-porous and waterproof.
How Do You Treat Leather Cords?
As with any leather hide, Real leather cord/lace can be cleaned using saddle soap and a bit of water. The Leather then needs to be treated with a Leather Conditioner that contains natural waxes and Lanolin to remoisturize and prolong the life of the Leather.
Leather Cord is a fun, versatile material that is easy to acquire since it comes from the edge of a leather hide. There are unlimited uses and possibilities for Leather Cord. Take what you have learned here and see what your imagination can weave together.