Crafty, Creative DIY Projects Using Leather Strap Handles and Pulls

We make and design a collection that we named the Leather Drawer Pull Collection — but these straps and loops are so versatile, there’s so much more to them than just drawers!

Get inspired by some of our customers’ crafty, creative, DIY uses for our leather handles and pulls (hint: this is a great way to use our super-discounted “dents and dings” pulls during our annual AS-IS Sale!)

Level 1: A Perfectly Versatile Leather Strap

The Hawthorne / Fremont

Our first design, the classic and most versatile Hawthorne handle is – at its most basic – a high-quality, super-strong, yet soft, strap with a hole at each end. There’s a lot you can do with that.

Those holes can be used to rivet, nail or screw the handle in just about any way you see fit. It comes with a hardware kit that allows it to go through a hole in any material, which is a self-contained Chicago screw (like a binding post) with its own back screw connection.

This is the Chicago screw + washer + back screw hardware setup that comes with each Hawthorne order, with the Hawthorne folded in half into a loop.

The Hawthorne comes in 3 different sizes and 4 colors for craft diversity.

One clever customer on Etsy used the Hawthorne (Wide) to make a DIY towel hanger in her bathroom using an embroidery hoop and a macrame ring:

A visiting artist to our studio once gave us this idea, to use the Fremont loop fold to hold a wall-mounted organizer. We use a wood screw secured straight into a stud for maximum stability. The artist suggested a flower vase, but we’ve used it for all kinds of things!

As it turns out, the Hawthorne Wide / Fremont size is just about perfect for a wide-mouth pint mason jar. (Is there no end to the versatility of the mason jar?!)

This same concept would work equally well in the garage as a holster for a long-handled rake or a shovel.

We used a “dents and dings” Hawthorne Small in our landscaping, to hold a sprawling vine maple back from a trail. The leather is soft enough not to damage the tree or bark, but strong enough to stay secure, even in the outdoors, even after two years in the Pacific Northwest rain!

This Hawthorne Small holds a vine maple off a walking trail with bit of nylon rope without damaging the bark.

The Tilikum

The Tilikum is set up as a stronger handle, with two layers of leather riveted together. It was originally designed as a heavy drawer pull or full-sized door handle, but that extra strength makes it perfect for use as any kind of DIY handle repair or replacement.

Customer Paul used the Tilikum handles for his glider trailer by installing them with pop rivets instead of our standard Chicago screw hardware. The handles are attached to rails that are manually extended to allow for extracting the glider, on rolling wheels, from the trailer. He said, “they’re working very well!”

The flexibility of the Tilikum leather design means it’s easy to install with rivets, wood screws, or other alternate hardware with no access to the backside, to attach the handle directly to the surface, rather than using our provided Chicago screw kit. In the photo below, we show how the leather has a certain amount of flexibility, allowing you to rotate or twist the handle, giving access to drive a screw straight into wood, or in your case pull a rivet into place:  

Geoff made Valerie a wood organizer for her essential oil collection, and used the Tilikum Small handle on its sides for lifting. Normally the Tilikum is shown pull outward, but in this application, you can see the upward lift rotates the handle a bit so it looks more like a bin pull. Pretty cool!

The same concept can be applied to adding a handle to any of your favorite objects, such as a canvas log carrier, trunk, suitcase, or even cutting board.

The Tilikum Medium installed directly onto a homemade wooden cutting board using wood screws, for easy lifting and flipping.

Beyond trunks, the handle has also been used on trucks! Our Tilikum is strong enough for serious purposes, including heavy doors. Customer Elizabeth in Texas used them as an additional pull on her vintage truck build.

A vintage truck with a soft leather handle to pull the heavy door shut.

Woodworkers love using our leather handles to add a soft touch to woodcrafting projects. One of our customers, 70-year-old Chuck from Pennsylvania, had our Tilikum handles monogrammed with his daughter and son-in-law’s names and attached them a handcrafted wooden breakfast tray. Chuck shared a photo of his finished project and said, “The tray is made of Hickory and Walnut and the finish is tung oil and paste wax. Thank you it turned out great.”

A handcrafted wooden breakfast tray with personalized leather handles made a perfect gift for Chuck’s daughter and son-in-law.

Level 2: Cutting and Riveting

Our leather can be cut to shape using sharp scissors or an exacto blade, and in a pinch, the edges can be finished using a permanent ink pen like a Sharpie. You can also burnish the edges like we do with wax for a smooth edge, and you can punch a hole for your own hardware inserts with a sharp awl, or better yet, a leather hole punch. This is basic leathercrafting, but it can be done with very few tools.

For a big trip to Europe, Valerie got a new suitcase from Seattle maker Tom Bihn, and Geoff outfitted the suitcase with 5/8″ wide leather zipper pulls. The 5/8″ width is the same width as the Burnside handle, but the 3/4″ wide St. Johns tab pull might have done equally well here in this application.

If you’ve never riveted before, then double-cap, or jiffy-set, rivets, are a good place to begin. All you really need is a mallet, although the special rivet setter will ensure the rivet stays centered and flawless.

You can apply the same concept easily to pull-down attic stair handles, ceiling light /fan pull chain, or a dog leash.

Level 3: Custom Work

If you have an idea for a leather project using our hand-dyed, American-made leather, ask us what we can do for you! We can make the straps longer or shorter, wider or skinnier, and place the holes where you need them.

Contact us or visit our custom work request form to see what we can do for you! And enjoy this gallery below of some examples of our custom work for other customers:

About Walnut Studiolo

Walnut Studiolo crafts original modern designs by hand in our Oregon workshop using only natural materials. We are a family-run company located on the North Oregon Coast. Learn more about us on our website:

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