Project 2: Leather Drawer Pulls

As promised, here are the details on how I made the leather pleather drawer pulls on my recently refinished veneer dresser.

Of course, I have to give credit to my original inspiration for the idea, so here’s that beauty one more time:

And yes, a real leather belt would be ideal, and maybe down the road I’ll change the handles if I find a good deal on one, but for now, I’m happy with my $2.50 pleather belt from Goodwill:

White Belt

Step 1: Determine Handle Size.  Cut Belt.  Mark Holes.  To determine the best size for the belt, start by using the end of the belt that already has holes in it–obviously that part is unusable for handles, so it makes sense to determine the best size from those pieces.  And here, just play around.  Start a little longer at first, working your way shorter until you have something that looks good.  At first, I used the original dresser handles as a guide, but that resulted in this:

Ick, right?  See how it’s just too long and goofy looking?  It just looked sloppy to me, so I cut off another inch to get to a length that looked more reasonable.  Then, just cut all the pieces the same length and mark your holes from your trial piece.

Oh, and I rounded the edges just a bit on the cuts–you know, to make it look more professional and not so pleathery.  But that’s up to you.

Step 2: Seal the Pleather Edges (Skip this Step if Using Real Leather) Since my belt was pleather and also had stitching, I wanted to make sure it didn’t fray over time.  So I used a little bit of super glue along the cut edges of each piece to keep everything in place.  Make sure to just use a little bit and give it ample drying time before touching it (the last thing you want to do is super glue your fingers to a pleather belt–try explaining that one in the ER!).  You could also use any fabric or regular household glue since all you want to do is create a seal along the cut edges; I used super glue because we had it and I knew it dried quickly (hard to believe, I know, but sometimes I can be quite impatient).

Step 3: Poke Your Holes.  Somehow that just sounds wrong, doesn’t it?  Oh well.  You need to poke your pre-marked holes (from Step 1) with something sharp.  Alternatively, if you own a leather punch, by all means–USE IT.  I, however, did not have a leather punch.   But, I did have a leatherman–close enough, right?  So just use some part of the leatherman (a small screwdriver would also work just fine), and a little elbow grease to accomplish this:

Then, just wiggle it around to make the hole wide enough for your hardware.  Repeat to make holes in all your handles.

Step 4: Attach Hardware.  Since the hardware was going to show on the front of the handles, I didn’t want to just use screws and bolts (although that could be a good look if you want something more industrial-like), so I used Aluminum Posts.  You can find them in the hardware aisle at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s and they come in a variety of sizes:

Initially, I brought home 3/4″, 1″, and 1 1/4″ length posts to see which one fit the best given the depth of the drawer front and handle.  In the end, the 1″ one was right, so I returned the other 2 and bought the remaining 11 ones needed.  They cost $1.14 each.

Also, since the posts were wider than the original hardware screws in the drawer, I did have to drill holes in the drawer front using a 1/4″ drill bit.  That allowed the posts to slide right in, easy-peasy style.  Next step–just put the posts through the handles and attach to the dresser (I had the handles done before the dresser was dry from the polyurethane, so in order to avoid losing the inside screw bits, I attached them to the posts:)

Step 5: Attach to Dresser.  Enjoy!  Just slide the posts through the holes, attach the screws, and enjoy!

All in all, pretty simple, right?  I definitely think I’ll keep an eye out for a real white or off-white leather belt for a quick swap-out in the future, but for now, I’m digging this just fine.

Total cost breakdown for this project (this cost was incorporated into the total dresser overhaul cost too):

  • Electric Drill: (already owned)
  • Super Glue: (already owned)
  • White pleather belt: $2.50
  • Aluminum post screws for handles: $13.68

Total cost for funky cool new dresser handles: $16.18.  So there you have it–new dresser handles on the cheap.  What do you think?  Do you agree that I should keep my eye out for a real-deal leather version?  Or are you feeling it for these handles?

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