The Delvin Cardholder Tutorial For Beginners

The Delvin is a classic, well known minimalistic cardholder which you can now make for yourself! Delvin can hold up to 3-4 cards. So grab yourself some leather and let's do it!


What you need ( in order ):

  • Veg-tan Leather ( preferably 1,4mm/3 oz. )
  • Pattern
  • Scratch awl or Something pointy
  • Ruler or Wing dividers
  • Sharp Knife
  • Glue
  • Sanding papers ( different grits )
  • *Edge beveler
  • Wood slicker or piece of fabric
  • Burnishing gum or water
  • Punching surface ( kitchen cutting board )
  • Pricking irons
  • Mallet
  • Needles
  • Thread
  • Lighter

*Not necessary

STEP 1 - Marking the pattern

What you need: Veg-tan leather, Pattern, Scratch awl or Something pointy

Get your leather and put it on your working space. Take your template pieces and use the scratch awl to carefully mark the template onto your leather. Continue with all the pieces until you have everything nicely marked on the leather. Now it's time to cut!


STEP 2 - Cutting pieces

What you need: Marked leather, Ruler, Sharp knife

Grab your ruler preferably metal one ) and knife that is as sharp as you can get it and let's go cutting! If you have some experience with cutting leather against a ruler, you will have no problem. If not, you should test your cutting skills on some scrap leather pieces, so you can be sure where to place the ruler and how much it will cut. Let's cut all pieces as straight as possible. If you have trouble making curves by your hand, no worry, we will use sanding papers to remove any imperfections you make during your cutting.

STEP 3 - Glue the pieces together

What you need: Cut pieces of leather, Glue, Ruler or Wing dividers

Now that you have all the pieces cut out, it's time to glue it all together. My templates come with a 3 mm trim allowance, so even if you can't glue it perfectly corner to corner and side by side, no worry. If you have wing dividers, you can set it to 5 mm and mark the backside, so you know how far you can apply the glue. If you don't have wing dividers, you can always use the ruler to mark all your measurements. Let's apply glue from the border to the marked line on both pieces. If you don't know how much glue to use, you can test it on the scrap leather. Now that you applied glue on all the pieces, we can put it all together as precisely as we can. Remember that even we have some space for mistakes, you should keep them at minimum.

STEP 4 - Trim allowance

What you need: Marked leather, Ruler or Wing dividers, Sharp knife,

Now that all of our pieces are glued together, we can use the trim allowance trick to save you time with sanding. Use a ruler or set your wing dividers to 3 mm, and make a line on the left side (A), on the right side (B) and on the bottom (C). We use the trim allowance only on the straight lines because precise cuts can be hard to do on thick leather project. Now you can place your ruler on the leather and start cutting as precise as you can all the lines you have marked. It depends on your cutting, but you can see how clean that cuts are, and we don't have to sand for hours to get our edges perfectly straight. This saves hours of time for the cost of a few millimeters of leather. Last step is to cut the corners. You can use whatever you want for this part as long as it is something circular.

STEP 5 - Sanding

What you need: Trimmed leather, Sandpapers, *Edge beveler

Now that we have perfect edges, we can go for sanding the rest. The curved parts are the ones you have to take your time with. Take the sanding paper, preferably with the grit of 180 and up, and start sanding. If you think your edges are perfectly aligned, you can switch to a higher grit of sanding paper to get it even smoother. The higher the grit, the smoother edges and more professional look you will get. If your sides are already perfectly aligned, you can start with 600 grit sandpaper and work your way up to a point that you are happy with. Most leathercrafters go up to 2000 grits, so you get that shiny look on your edges. If you have an edge beveler, you can bevel all the edges and once again smooth that curve with the sandpapers. If you don't have edge beveler, you can trim the edges by your hand and sandpapers, but it's not that easy.

STEP 6 - Burnishing

What you need: Sanded leather, Wood slicker or Piece of fabric, Water or Burnishing gum

Now that we have all edges perfectly sanded and aligned, we can move to burnishing. Burnishing is basically polishing and sealing the rough edges of the leather with friction and heat. Take some water or your burnishing gum and put a little on the edge and smear it all over the sanded side. Grab your piece of fabric or wood slicker and start . Remember that it's not about power but friction. Then run the burnisher fast back and forth across the edge. Be sure to not put too much pressure on the edge itself. All you are trying to do is create heat through friction, not mushroom your edges. Do this until you hear a tacky sound. It's hard to describe, but you will know it when you hear it. Once you hear it, you know your edges have been burnished well.


STEP 7 - Making holes

What you need: Burnished leather, Punching surface, Pricking irons, Mallet, Ruler or Wing dividers

So you should have clean edges and everything aligned. Now it's time for making holes to be prepared for the next step. Grab your ruler or wing dividers and mark the stitching line 3 mm from the edge of your cardholder. Take your punching board and put the cardholder on it. Now that you know where to put your holes for stitching, grab the pricking irons and align it with the marked line as precise as possible and be careful not to angle your pricking irons in any angle other than 90° from the surface you're working on. Grab your mallet and give it a strong swing. If you want to be more precise, you can always put the last tooth of your pricking irons in the last hole you made, and it will naturally straighten the angle. Continue this process until you hit the end on the other side. Time for stitching.

STEP 8 - Sewing

What you need: Leather with holes, Needles, Thread, Lighter

It's really hard to explain without showing it to you how to stitch the leather, but you can find tons of videos of how to saddle stitch on the internet with visual representation. After you finish the stitching, cut the remaining thread roughly 1 mm from the surface and burn it with the lighter, so it seals it on the surface of a stitch. Congratulations! You did it.

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