How To Make A Custom Hand Tooled Leather Seat


Adam Croft from Last Ride Leather ( out of Bloomington, Illinois checks in with a great article about how to make a hand tooled leather seat.  You’re definitely going to want to check this out. I’ll let Adam take over from here.

For anyone who has wonder how a hand-tooled leather seat is made, I am going to show you the steps.  My name is Adam Croft from Last Ride Leather.  I build custom seats for bike builders across America. This seat is for Billy Lane at Choppers Inc, the bike he is building is called “The Nasty”

Step 1
I will drill the holes around the edge of the seat pan for the rivets and then paint the pan.

Step 2

I use vehicle door trim that you can pickup at any car shop to put around the edge of the pan.  This will prevent the pan from cutting the Leather.

Step 3

I use a 1/2 rubber neoprene foam that I get from a local plumbing store.  It usually comes in 72″x48″ sheets.  I use spray glue and I will cut it in strips and stack them one after the other.

Step 4

I use a drywall shaver to smooth out the foam.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT if you want a nice seat.  Take your time and make sure it is perfect before you go any further.

Step 5

After the foam is shaved Perfect, then you can make a top piece pattern out of poster board.

Step 6
Then use pattern on the back side of the leather.  I usually use 7-8 oz cowhide leather for the tooling leather.  I get most of my leather tools and supplies from Tandy Leather shops.

Step 7

Make sure you measure the lacing holes out even.  I will then use a Leather hole puncher to complete the lacing holes.

Step 8

I use a swivel knife to carve the lines that will be hand-tooled.

Step 9

I then hand-tool around the edges of the artwork.

Step 10

After tooling is all completed.  I will use rabbit fur to apply the dye.  I will put 3 to 4 coats of medium brown dye.  Make sure you use rubber gloves to do this, or it will look like you wipe your butt with your hand for a few days. Thats not cool

Step 11

I like to use the thicker 1/8 lace.  This takes forever to do, but it turns out badass.

Step 12

Then use spray glue on the seat and put the leather onto the seat. The rivet the side pieces of leather to the back of the seat pan.

Step 13

And this will be your finished product. I will use Feiblings aussie conditioner on the leather to give it a rich look.

I would like to Thank Paul Cox for putting his step by step “how to make a seat” in The Horse Mag couple years back.  This article got me off my ass and tooling leather. I would also like to thank Billy Lane and Jennifer Schnieder from Choppers Inc.

You can view my website at

Many thanks to Adam for providing this great tutorial.

17 Responses to “How To Make A Custom Hand Tooled Leather Seat”

  1. dan says:

    kick ass job on the question is do you thinner material for the sides and after wet molding the sides any secret how to get out the wrinkles out of leather thanks..

  2. Adam Croft says:

    I use 2-3oz cowhide leather for most my seats. I will dye the leather let it dry, then I will wet it on the backside of leather only. If you wet the front side you will get spots and streaks. And rivet it on to the seat. Send me a picture of the seat you are building when completed.
    Good luck

  3. dan says:

    adam thanks for the reply.have a few more questions.if you use thinner materials for the side.i would usualuu use 5-6 oz for the top and when i cut out my top ,my sides automatically match when you use the thinner 2-3oz.for the sides how do you make your you use the pattern you cut from your posterboard for your sides.and also i noticed the pan is gota square back to you start on your cornors first when you start riveting to the pan.this is the part i have a bitch of time with..

  4. Adam says:

    I will put the top piece of leather face down onto 2/3 leather. I will then mark the holes from the top piece to the 2/3 oz. then take the top piece off, and draw a line about a 1/2 or less inside the marked holes on the 2/3oz leather, cut along the line and the poke the holes and lace. hope you understand what I am saying. This took me the longest to figure out, and when I got it right I felt like a dumbass because it is so simple. I always2-3inches before the corners, make sure the leather is wet and just keep stretching it.

  5. dan says:

    thanks for you help appericate it

  6. dan says:

    and what the distance you use on your hole spacing to..thanks again adam..anymore right ups on tooling or anything.let me know always intrested on reading them..thanks

  7. Adam Croft says:

    The holes are 1cm in and 1cm wide.

  8. dan says:

    hey adam as i was wondering you said you use thicker 1/8 .is that kangaroo lace or are you using something else.and where do you get from thanks.

  9. Adam says:

    I go to Tandy leather store. They are all over the US. I use Superior Latigo lace for the Old school seats, and I do use kangaroo lace but it is usually for new age look. It all depends on the style of seat.

  10. dan says:

    now does the superior latigo lace hold up as well and strong as the kangaroo lace does.whats the price diffrence.i know the kangaroo is like 35 bucks a spoll.

  11. Adam says:

    Yeah it holds up great. its about $20 for 50 yards. Remember I use what is needed for each particular seat I make.

  12. Hector A Roberts says:

    Dan,Thanks for all the good info. I used to pound leathr back in the 70s, and desided to try redoing my chopper seat, my question is what size hole do you punch into the leather 1/8 lace, and what size pop riets do you use? Thanks H A Roberts

  13. Adam says:

    I use a leather punch and use the biggest one on the rotary, not sure what the size is. I think the are 1/8 inch rivets

  14. Hector A Roberts says:

    Thanks Adam, Robbi

  15. Hector A Roberts says:

    Adam, What stich do you use. I have never stitched before, I do have the book, Looked like double stich, but wasent sure, also are the holes in the top piece, and the sides to match’ mine come out a little off. or should I redo the side piece. Thanks Rob

  16. Hector A Roberts says:

    Adam, I think I know where I messed up, I layed the top piece, face down, but I had the 2/3 oz face up,or grain side up, and I should of had the grain side down, When I have the grain side down the holes line up, Hope this makes some sense. Thanks Rob

  17. brian says:

    do you just use the hole punch to punch the rivet holes in the bottom leather and how do you start to get it tight?

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