I’ve learned that round leather cord is a strong and attractive material that can be used in a wide variety of leather working projects. Let’s learn how to choose the best type.

Round leather cord is a leather material shaved into a long, thin, cylindrical shape. It works well for lacing, braiding, jewelry-making, personal accessories, and accents for clothing. Most round leather cord is often available in a variety of colors and in thicknesses ranging from 0.5mm to 10mm.

I’ve learned that some cord will work better for certain project types, and there are some great pieces that can be made with it. Let’s explore a bit more.

 

What is Round Leather Cord?

Round leather cord is a material made from leather, shaped into a very long, thin, round piece. The thicknesses of the cord can vary, making that a key factor in determining what size to use. It is a very string, flexible, and soft material, making it quite versatile in that it can be both decorative and functional, depending on how it’s used.

Leather Cord Bracelet - Liberty Leather Goods
Leather Cord Bracelet

Since they’re made from leather and leather can be dyed, round leather cord is also available in a wide range of colors (80+), surface finishes, surface textures, and even pre-braided. Often they’re sold on rolls, or spools, by overall length in meters (or feet).

This can be a functional addition to a leather project, used for lacing large, heavy pieces of leather together. It can also be used decoratively. Most of us have likely encountered leather cord for shoe laces, or in jewelry.

 

What is Round Leather Cord Commonly Used For?

Round leather cord is most commonly used for lacing and jewelry. In lacing, this cord works great for joining large pieces of leather together when lacing leather (similar to hand-sewing, though with a larger needle, and using round leather cord instead of thread). This can be used for:

  • Saddlery
  • Bag Making
  • Moccasin-Making
  • Clothing Ornamentation
  • Shoe laces

It is also a common material used in jewelry-making. Popular projects include:

  • Necklaces
  • Earrings
  • Bracelets
  • Hair Ties
  • Hat Cords
  • Beading
  • Braiding

It is also possible to braid heavier pieces of round leather cord together to make straps or handles that can be used on leather goods.

Round Leather Cord - Liberty Leather Goods
Round Leather Cord with Leather Accessory

What are the Common Sizes of Round Leather Cord?

Round leather cord is generally available in sizes ranging from 0.5mm to 10mm. 0.5mm (.02”) is about 1/3 the thickness of a United States dime, so is relatively thin. 10mm (0.375”) is about the thickness of 5 United States pickles stacked together, so relatively thick. The thickness chosen will depend mainly on it’s intended use and personal preference for a project.

 

What is Each Size Most Useful For?

Here’s a handy chart to reference the thickness of round leather cord and what it’s generally most useful for:

Size (mm)Size (inches)Best Use
0.5mm – 1mm.02” – .04”Braiding into thicker cord, earrings
1mm – 2mm.04” – .08”Braiding into thicker cord, earrings
2mm – 3mm.08” – .12”Thin bracelets, necklaces, thin lacing, light braiding
3mm – 4mm.12” – .16”Thin bracelets, necklaces, thin lacing, light braiding
4mm – 5mm.16” – .20”Medium bracelets, necklaces, medium lacing, medium braiding
5mm – 6mm.20” – .24”Medium bracelets, necklaces, medium lacing, hat cords
6mm – 7mm.24” – .28”Thicker bracelets, necklaces, lacing, hat cords
7mm – 8mm.28” – .31”Thicker bracelets, necklaces, lacing, heavier hat cords
8mm – 9mm.31” – .35”Heavy lacing, thick necklaces, small straps
9mm – 10mm.35” – .39”Heavy lacing, small straps

 

Common Types of Round Leather Cord

Leather cord comes in a variety of types and finishes. Here is a list of the most popular ones:

  • Braided
  • Cowskin
  • Deerskin
  • Flat-Braided
  • Gypsy Kinte
  • Gypsy Berol
  • Kangaroo
  • Suede
  • Stitched
  • Textured
  • Metallic

 

How is Round Leather Cord Made?

Leather cord is made by passing leather strips through a tool called a rein rounder. A rein rounder is a tool with a sharp edge that encompassed a circular hole. When leather is pulled through the hole, it shaves off the pieces that are larger than the diameter of the hole blade, resulting in a piece of leather of the same thickness as the hole it was pulled through. Let’s look at each of the steps from start through completion.

 

1. Cut Thin Strips from Leather Hide

First, thin, flat leather strips are cut from a large, flat hide. They are cut in such a way as to maximize the length of the strip being cut, to make it as long as possible. Often this is performed by a spiral cutting machine, resulting in long lengths of flat leather cord. Here is an example of a leather spiral cutting machine in use:

 

 

2. Pull Leather Strip Through Rein Rounder

Next, the leather strip is pulled through a rein rounder. the rein rounder might have a single hole, or several holes of different sizes. Each size is an option for what how large in diameter the finished piece of round leather cord will be. At home, this can be done by hand for specific projects based on cord thickness and needs.

Bruce Johnson has a very detailed tutorial on rein rounder use, click here to take a look. You can also click here to view different sizes he has available in his shop.

For large leather cord production facilities, the rein rounder is a machine which performs this action at very high speeds and high volumes, resulting in large amounts of cord intended for wholesale and bulk-retail purchase.

Here is a helpful video showing a rein rounder in a smaller workshop:

 

 

3. Join the Leather Cord

The leather cord will initially only be as long as the leather strip from which it was made. Similar to thread, it can be helpful to have a long length of round leather cord for lacing or joining leather together. In this case, lengths of cord can be joined together at the ends (by stitching, or for thicker leathers, with metal clips), resulting in a much longer le
ngth of leather cord.

 

What is a Black Leather Cord Necklace?

A black leather cord necklace is a necklace made from leather cord, often round, dyed black. Thickness can range from about 2mm – 8mm in diameter. Additionally, the cord used for black leather cord necklaces can be a single, round strand, or be comprised of a grouping of thinner, braided cords.

Often, these are closed into a loop using a jewelry clasp. Black leather cord necklaces can be worn alone, or be fashioned with beads, silver or gold charms, and even precious stones. The variety of styles are as vast and the imagination of the designer that uses it to make a project. Black leather cord necklaces can be made at home or purchased, depending on personal preference.

 

What is Braided Leather Necklace Cord?

Braided leather necklace cord is leather cord, round or flat, that is pre-braided. It most often is comprised of two or three strands of leather cord, and comes in long lengths that can then be cut and used for a variety of items including bracelets, necklaces, and jewelry.

The thickness of the cord used for the braids can vary, from thinner to thicker, allowing for an array of thickness options that help give the finished product different looks and feels based on the preference of the designer/crafter.

 

What is Half Round Leather Cord?

Half round leather cord is leather cord that generally has a flat side, and a rounded side (thus, called half round). It can be a single thickness of cord that has bee cut/finished to only have one rounded half, or it can be thinner leather sewn together over a core, resulting in a finished cord that has a flat bottom and a rounded top (with visually interesting seams on either side.

Half round leather cord is available in a variety of colors, surface finishes, and textures. Most any that can be imagined, is available, making it a suitable material choice for many different projects. Most commonly, these include bracelets, necklaces, and other jewelry.

 

Where to Buy Round Leather Cord?

Here is a helpful chart listing some of the most popular locations to buy round leather cord. They offer a wide variery of sizes, materials, colors, and lengths.

CompanyDescriptionLink to Site
AmazonOnline retailer with a large variety of sizes and colors offered by 3rd-party sellersLink
Antelope BeadsOnline retailer of artisan beads and components; warehouse based in Florida, USALink
ArtbeadsOnline retailer of jewelry-making supplies; based in Boise, Idaho, USALink
Best BeadsOnline retailer of jewelry componentsLink
CobeadsOnline retailer of jewelry-making accessories; based in both Paris, France, and Kowloon, Hong KongLink
EtsyOnline marketplace of retailers, with a wide variety of round leather cordLink
JoannOnline and physical stores, sells arts and crafts suppliesLink
Leather Cord USAManufacturer and seller of possibly the widest variety of quality leather cord; based on Woodstock, Georgia, USALink
MichaelsOnline and physical stores, sells arts and crafts suppliesLink
Sun EnterprisesManufacturer and supplier of leather jewelry and other components – extremely large variety of cords; based in the Netherlands, with an office in Florida, USALink
Tamara Scott DesignsOnline retailer of jewelry-making supplies; based in Dawsonville, Georgia, USALink
Xsotic DesignsOnline retailer of jewelry-making supplies, with a specialization in leather cord, including some unique offerings; based in Sheridan, Wyoming, USALink

 

 

Round Leather Cord Wholesale

Here is a helpful chart for wholesale round leather cord dealers. When one is looking for a larger volume of cord for big productions or production work, these can be helpful sellers to source cord from.

CompanyDescriptionLink to Site
Best BeadsOnline retailer of jewelry componentsLink
Plessmann Endless LeatherSupplier for a very wide variety of quality European leather cord; based in Horb, GermanyLink
Leather Cord USAManufacturer and seller of possibly the widest variety of quality leather cord; based on Woodstock, Georgia, USALink
Panda HallOnline marketplace for jewelry-making supplies; based in London, England and Kowloon, Hong KongLink
Sun EnterprisesManufacturer and supplier of leather jewelry and other components – extremely large variety of cords; based in the Netherlands, with an office in Florida, USALink
Wholesale Jewelry Supply Co.Online retailer of jewelry-making supplies; based in Cranston, Rhode Island, USALink
Xsotic DesignsOnline retailer of jewelry-making supplies, with a specialization in leather cord, including some unique offerings; based in Sheridan, Wyoming, USALink

 

 

Round leather cord is an attractive, versatile, and strong material that can be incorporated into a lot of leather working projects. With so many options available, the creative useless are near endless. For more information that could help in selecting a round leather cord type, click here for my article covering all of the types of leather available.

 

 

Related Questions:

How do you cut a leather cord?

Leather cord can generally be easily cut with a sharp blade, such as scissors, sharp shears, a utility knife, or a specialized leather knife. With a sharp blade, the cut should come out clean, precise, and leave a relatively smooth edge.

How do you straighten a round leather cord?

Leather cord can be straightened by moistening it (not soaking it) with water, and pulling it through the fingers to help even out any curls. Following the water, or in place of it, leather conditioner can be used, helping keep the material supple.

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