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How to make a perfect hole in your leather belt

Whether you have put on some weight during the holidays, or have lost some pounds after a period of strict diet and exercise, it is handy for you to know how to punch a new hole in your leather belt. Sometimes it could also be due to the fact that your different pairs of pants require different belt sizes, or simply that your leather has stretched a little after being used for a while. Sooner or later, you’re gonna have to do it. Follow these guidelines to create a perfect new hole for your belt. 


Measure the holes

No matter which method you choose to make a new hole, your success will greatly depend on where you put it in the first place. The standard measurement between holes in most men’s belts is a perfect 1 pinch. Measure out using a ruler, then mark your desired location for a new hole with a pen. Typically it makes no difference if you mark on the back or front side of the belt, since that piece of leather will be removed anyway when you poke the new hole.


Option 1: Use a rotary or a round drive punch for the simplest solution

A rotary punch is the most straightforward tool to use when you want to create a hole in your leather belt. First, you will need to find the appropriately sized punch tube. Typically a #5 sized punch (the second largest size) will do, but it really depends on your buckle. To make a hole, simply rotate the punch into place, position it centered over your marking, then squeeze the handle, and you should be left with a perfectly round hole. 


A round drive punch is also recommended. The 3/16” sized punch is usually an ideal option for a standard belt buckle. Center the punch over the marking, use a mallet to give it a few solid whacks to punch through the leather, and there you have it. 


Option 2: A scratch awl (or nail) can come in handy

An awl is a metal point with a handle that is smaller than an ice pick, and could be easily used for all sorts of wood, fabric, paper and leather projects. This tool can be helpful for creating the hole and maintaining the right size. If you have a medium-ly equipped toolbox, there is a good chance that you might have one. Otherwise, you can purchase one from the store, or try a large nail instead.

Prepare some scrap wood, place your belt on it, and mark the spot for the hole you are trying to make. Slowly and carefully force the awl through the leather by hand. If the leather is quite thick, insert the sharp point into the material using short firm strokes, or give it a few taps with a mallet to force it through. Once the initial hole is there, use your pocket knife to create the rounded, appropriately sized hole, and trim off any excess material poking through the back of the new hole. Finish the hole with clear nail polish to prevent fraying, wear and tear in the future. 


Option 3: Use a pocket knife if you’re in a pinch

With a small, sharp pocket knife, you can pierce the leather, then slowly move it back and forth in a circular motion within the hole to remove small amounts of leather until it reaches the right size. However, although a pocket knife can come in handy for finishing out the hole, it is not necessarily an ideal solution to start one. You need to be very careful when using a knife, as you might make a cut that is too large or create a rugged hole that can dramatically shift the way the belt fits. The hole poked with a knife is also more likely to tear away due to the shape of the blade that may make it hard to puncture the thick leather. 


Option 4: Use the power drill

When it comes to putting holes into items, a power drill is probably one of the most common and useful tools you can think of. Hold your drill on top of the new hole spot, then begin drilling into the leather belt very slowly. Remember, the more patient you are, the cleaner and well-rounded the hole is going to be.  

However, straightforward though it may seem, you need to be extremely cautious if you want to use the power drill. When drilling holes into the leather, make sure you hold the belt down firmly and have a piece of spare wood or something similar underneath. Otherwise, the belt may catch the drill bit, spin in place and be ruined, and more seriously, you might risk having some fairly impressive bruises. 

As mentioned, there are several ways for you to make a new hole for your leather belt. However, this might not always be a convenient situation. You might not already have a punch, an awl, or a power drill around the house, or sometimes you can be away from home and do not carry those tools with you. Also, with whichever methods you are going to use, there is still a chance that the new hole can be imperfectly measured and sized, or even tear away, and you might risk ruining your belt or even hurting yourself. This is something our Kangaroo Leather Belts team think hard about to design our braided belts for both men and women, which are extremely flexible size wise to adapt to any situation and save you all the fuss of adding a notch to your favorite leather belt. View our handmade leather belt collection here.