Belt, straps, and strip cuts run through a lot of the leather work projects you will make. Although these are not the very complicated tasks in leather work, they require the best of the best precision cuts. So in this article, I researched on the best tools for cutting leather belts, straps, and strips.
So, what are the best tools to cut leather belts, straps and strips? The best tools to cut leather belts, straps, and strips are:
- The Draw Gauge: Best overall tool to cut belt, straps, & strips.
- The Strap Cutter: Best tool to cut belts & straps below 8oz.
- The Rotary Cutter: Best tool to cut strips
- The Plough Gauges: Best tool to cut heavyweight leather straps & belts
- The Round Knife: Best tool for trimming
- The Utility Knife: Best tool to cut or resize belts & Straps
- Leather Strap Cutter Machine: Best for Strapping thick and hard leather
- Leather Thong/Lace Maker: Best tool to cut long strip of leather for lacing
- Lace Stripper/Cutter: Best tool to cut multiple strips for fringes, tassels, etc.
- Scissors: Best to to cut strips and make trimmings
While each of the tools represented above are generally the best tools to cut leather, every single one of them is particularly great for specific belts, straps, and strips activities and will be more practical to use over the other. Keep reading to find out more!
1. The Draw Gauge
The draw gauge is by far the best way to cut leather belts and straps. It can be used to make a variety cuts from thick leather over 9 oz. The standard leather belt thickness weight is around 8-9 oz.
The draw gauge is perfect for belts because most belts fall within this weight bracket and if you need to make it slightly thicker than the usual you will still be able to do so perfectly with a draw gauge!
It also comes with up to 4inches width adjustment which is great for almost all standard leather belts and straps. The draw gauge is however, a professional strapping tool and requires a bit of practice to get used to them.
To find out more about the draw gauge, you can check out this article I wrote earlier. I explain a lot more awesome details about the draw gauge.
But just like every other leather work tool, the draw gauge comes with some draw backs. The major disadvantage to using this tool is how it’s cutting blade is exposed and can cause severe cuts to the user.
There are also a couple more disadvantages to using the draw gauge and you can check it out here in my previous article!
The key take away when it comes to using a draw gauges for cutting leather belt and straps is that it’s built to cut heavier leather weights and will come with a super sharp blade that can be easily resharpened or stropped.
If you’re interested, you can check out this draw gauge from Amazon! It’s has all the qualities that will help you make belts and straps faster and more accurately plus it comes at a really great price!
How to Use a Draw Gauge – Video
Here’s a helpful video on how to use a draw gauge!
2. The Strap Cutter
Don’t let the name “fool” you! The strap cutter is another great alternative for cutting leather belt and straps especially for belt and strap weights below 8 & 9 oz. The strap cutter is a beginner friendly tool you can use to cut all your straps and belts when you start out in leather work.
The strap cutter is often confused with the draw gauge. Although they do just about the same thing, they’re both different in terms of usage and the materials they’re made of.
You can check out this article I wrote earlier on the differences between the strap cutter and the draw gauge. I also threw in a couple of pros and cons to give you a much better perspective on these two tools.
Unlike the all-metal material the draw gauge come with, the strap cutter is mostly mainly made of wood with a blade slot for replaceable blades. The strap cutter is much easier to master and it’s also a lot safer to work with.
It’s also a lot cheaper especially when compared to the other strap cutting tools like the plough gauge, the draw gauge, and strap cutting machine.
If you’re interested, I, like many countless crafters find the Tandy leather strap cutters still as one of the best strap, strip, and belt cutters on the market today. You can check it out over here on Amazon!
How to Use a Strap Cutter – Video
Here’s a useful video on how to use a strap cutter!
3. The Rotary Cutter
The rotary cutter is a useful tool for cutting leather strips, and straps. For most strips and straps, the rotary cutter should do a great job provided you put in the required efforts and use a rule guide. For belts it’s almost impossible to cut 8-9 oz with the rotary cutter.
To be able to do this successfully you would have to tirelessly run multiple cuts with the rotary cutter in order to complete a single strap or belt cut. So it’s far better and easier to use a plough gauge, a draw gauge or a strap cutter.
The Rotary Cutter is especially useful for making long straight cuts from thin leathers. Leather thicknesses around 1mm or 2-3 oz or less is a fantastic weight for the rotary cutter to cut straps and strips from.
With just about enough pressure on your rotary cutter, you should be able to make a really descent cut from your leather. The most important thing to note is to ensure your rotary cutter is fairly sharp and that you’re using a straight metal ruler as a guide.
If you’re interested in getting a rotary cutter to help you make strip cuts and strap cuts from Lightweight leather, you can check out this rotary cutter from Olfa, one the best rotary cutting tools brands in the world on Amazon!
How to Use a Rotary Cutter – Video
Here’s a useful video on how to use a rotary cutter !
4. The Plough Gauges
The plough gauge is very similar to the draw gauge and is often confused and interchanged. It’s a leather work makers tool.
The plough gauge is also a very effective tool you can used to cut straps and particularly belts since it can also handle a lot of heavyweight leathers even more than the draw gauge can.
The plough gauge has a revolver that helps to smoothly guide and push the leather down as it’s being cut. The blade of the plough gauge is in line with its handle so offer a lot more finesse for the users.
The distinctive feature on the plough gauge is that it uses a push-to-cut cutting mechanism. The push mechanism is basically opposite to the draw gauges mechanism of a pull-to-cut.
If you’re interested to learn more about some of the awesome things the plough gauge can do, you can check it out a previous article I wrote that dove deep into everything about the plough gauge including it’s advantages and disadvantages.
How to Cut leather Using the Plough Gauge – Video
Watch a helpful video on how to use a leather plough to cut leather for straps and belts!
5. The Round Knife
The Round knife is also another useful tool you can use to cut your leather strap and belts if you need to trim it to fit your size. With the leather belt, strap, or strip on a hard smooth surface, you can simply rock the round knife in a quick forward or backward motion to trim off the excess length so that your straps or belts fit nicely.
While the round knife is perfect for making quick trims and cuts on leather straps and belts, it’s absolutely not what you will, from a leather crafters perspective use to cut an entire strap or belt blank.
I particularly find the round knife from weaver leather craft available on Amazon to be very versatile, durable, and efficient for a wide variety of cuts.
6. The Utility Knife
Very similar to the round knife, this utility knife from Amazon for example will serve as a tool you will use to resize leather belts or straps to suit a required size. This is one of the most viable alternatives for users because it’s a fairly common tool that could be found in most homes.
So for most people the Utility Knife will be the best and most practical tool they can use to cut leather belt or very short straps.
How to Use a Utility Knife to Make Cuts
7. Leather Strap Cutter Machine
The leather strap cutting machine is an electronic or manual device used to make strapping a lot easier and faster. The manual strap cutting machines are less expensive and can be simply mounted on a workbench with screws or a C-clamp. The manual strap cutting machine help make cutting heavier leather easy and more comfortable.
The electricity powered leather strap cutting machines are great for efficiency in cutting multiple dozen straps and may also come with multipurpose features like slitting, strapping, stripping.
You can read more in this article I wrote earlier on the leather strap cutting machines and a couple of my favorites leather strap cutting machines you could buy if you’re interested!
How To Use A Leather Strap Cutting Machine – Video
You can check out this video on how the leather strap cutting machine is used to cut strips and straps of leather.
8. The leather Thong Cutter/ Lace Maker
This tools is marketed under a couple of names such as lace maker, strip cutter, or a lace cutter. It’s a very useful little tool that makes cutting very thin strips of leather for thonging or lacing very easy than cutting with a pair of scissors or strap cutter.
This is best used on leather that’s a bit stiff or has a bit of body to it. The leather lace maker can be used to cut lace from 2-7 oz. leather or slightly more provided the leather thickness can fit into the ridges on the tool.
The lace maker or thong cutter is designed to cut firm leather, so the leather can be super thin but has to be firm to get a good cut. You can, however, use the lace maker to cut soft leather but will require a lot of skill to be able to do that.
How to Use a Thong/Lace Maker
The lace maker is a really great tool, but it can also be a huge pain and a frustrating tool if you don’t know how to use it. Here’s a great video on how to effectively use the lace maker!
If the lace maker is just what you need because you prefer to lace your leather items instead of sewing with s machine, then you can check out this lace maker over here on Amazon!
9. Leather Lace Cutter/ Lace Stripper
The leather lace stripper or lace cutter is a simple machine tool you can mount on your workbench or table and can be used to cut any length of multiple strips from leather for fringes, tassels, lacing, belts, straps, etc.
The leather lace stripper is great because you can use it to cut 8-16 strips all at once with the least effort. The blades in a leather lace stripper or cutter will cut leather weights from 2oz to 10oz. The blades of a leather stripper are very easy to change or reverse when they become dulled up.
You can check out how the magic happens with the leather stripper in the video below.
If you’re interested in a tool that allows you to cut a lot of strips all at once, you can check out this one from Tandy leather over her on Amazon!
The last but certainly not least is scissors, scissors as we all know is one of the common tools for cutting leather. The scissors is a great tool for cutting strips and lightweight straps. The scissors is also a great tool you can use to make trimmings on leather belts to size.
It will however require a bit of effort to cut through thicker leather.
What’s the Best Way to Cut Leather Belts?
From a makers perspective, the best way to cut leather belts is by simply using a strap cutter or a draw gauge to to cut the perfect belt lengths and widths. The important reason why this is the best way is because you will get the most perfect edge cuts on the belts.
If you’re looking at cutting a much heavier leather belt like over 9oz then the draw gauge will be the best way to go but if your belt weight is between 0-8oz then the strap cutter is definitely what you would want to consider.
How Do You Cut a Leather Belt to Size?
The best way to cut leather belt to size is by using a round knife, Utility Knife, or a pair of scissors to trim off unwanted lengths after you have accurately taken the measurements from a belt that fits so the leather belt you trim fits perfectly.
Cutting leather belts to size at home can be generally tricky and extra care must be give to the hem/edge stitchings, edge dye finishings, and designs.
So if your belt has patterns, edge stitchings or treatments, it’s best you see a professional to help cut the belt to size. Otherwise if you’re okay making your cut obvious, then go for it and cut it yourself at home.
But if your leather belt is flat and has no finished edges or designs on it, you can be able to trim it successfully and very neatly.
What’s the Best Way to Cut Leather Straps?
Straps are best cut by setting out your required width from a strap cutter (wooden), cutting a straight edge on the leather you’re going to strap, and then running the strap cutter along the straight edge to cut your perfect straps.
What’s the Best Way to Cut Leather Strips?
One of the best ways to cut strips for laces, tassels, fringes, etc is to use a leather lace stripper. This will, however, depend on the widths and lengths you would want.
You can also nicely mark out your strips with a pencil on the flesh side of the leather and then use a utility knife, a box cutter, or exacto knife to nicely cut out your strips using a ruler as a guide.