How to Make a Hole in a Leather Belt (6 Methods!)

The leather belt is a crucial tool for survivalists and adventurers alike. But how do you make one? This article explores the many ways to create your own at-home, or field-expedient, belt with just some nails, wire and any other DIY materials you may have on hand.

The “how to make a hole in leather belt at home” is an article on how to make a hole in a leather belt. The article has 6 methods for making the hole.

Poster by Art of Manliness about ways of making new hole in a belt.

Note from the editor: This is a guest post by Michael Magnus.

It’s useful to know how to add a new notch or two to your leather belt, whether you’re putting on a few pounds during the holidays or getting healthy and losing inches with The Strenuous Life. In this article, you’ll learn about a variety of hole-punching techniques: some need specific equipment, while others enable you to make do with what you have.

The first three techniques shown here will demonstrate how to get an excellent circular belt hole with minimum effort. Then there are three procedures that take a little more finesse but can be employed in a hurry.

There’s certain to be one of these 6 approaches that suits the tools you have on hand. 

Taking Measures of the Holes

Measuring the leather strip by scale and pen.

Regardless of whatsoever technique you choose to make a hole, you must first measure and indicate the location of the hole.

One inch, center to center, is the usual distance between belt holes. Mark the position of the new hole with a pen or a Sharpie using a ruler or measuring instrument. Because the aim is to remove that section of leather, it usually doesn’t matter which side of the belt you mark on.

How to Make Rounded Holes in Your Belt

Although there are many methods for perforating leather, just puncturing it might cause the hole to tear with usage.

It’s critical to smooth off the inside sides of the hole you’ve created so that you’re left with a circle big enough to accommodate the tongue of your belt buckle. This circular design may aid avoid ripping and provide the belt more strength while it’s being used often.

The procedures below will produce a robust, neatly rounded hole in only one step.

Punching with a Rotary

Making a hole using rotary punch.

The rotary punch is likely the most obvious and easy approach. Tandy Leather produces certain leather-specific rotary punches, but you may be able to locate something usable at a standard hardware shop. Typically, you’ll want to use a #5 sized punch (the second-to-largest size) with this tool; but, depending on the buckle, you may require something larger or smaller.

To use the rotary punch, locate an appropriate-sized punch tube, spin it into place, center it over your marking, and press the handle. This tool is simple to use and may be worth buying in if you plan on punching holes often.

Punch with a Round Drive

Rounding the hole using round drive punch.

This is another tool that may be acquired from Tandy or a hardware shop if you don’t already have one. These sharp steel tubes come in a variety of diameters, but the 3/16″ size is generally used to create holes in a belt for a regular belt buckle.

You should be left with a perfectly round hole if you center the punch over the marker and give it a couple good whacks with a mallet.


The Drilling Machine

Man using power drill on a leather strip.

You most certainly already have a power drill on hand. You may gently drill a hole through the leather using the 3/16″ bit. While this seems to be a simple task, there are a few things to keep in mind.

When drilling holes in the leather, be careful to keep the belt securely in position; otherwise, the belt may snag on the drill bit and spin in place. This may result in the belt being ruined, as well as some pretty serious bruising.

Also, make sure you put a piece of extra wood or anything similar beneath the hole before drilling it. When the drill bit passes through the leather, it will pass through whatever surface is underneath it, perhaps destroying the surface, the drill bit, or both.

Drilling Holes in Your Belt

When you have the choice, one of the approaches listed above is your best chance. If you’re in a hurry, the following three approaches will suffice.

As previously stated, merely puncturing a rough hole in a belt may cause it to rip. After making the first perforation using any of the ways below, it is advised that you take this second step: put a tiny, sharp pocket knife into the puncture and spin it around in a circular motion to bore out part of the leather, rounding out and reinforcing the hole.

The Knife in Your Pocket

Cutting the leather strip by a knife.

As previously said, a knife will come in helpful for completing the hole on all three of these puncturing alternatives, but be cautious when using it to start one. When using a knife to penetrate the leather at your selected spot, the form of the blade may make puncturing the leather difficult without causing a significant incision.

A tiny, sharp pocket knife will work better than a bigger blade for this, but you’ll have to make do with what you have. Slowly slide the knife back and forth in a circular motion inside the hole after delicately piercing the leather, effectively scraping away little portions of leather until it reaches the desired size. This might take some time. However, care is required to avoid over-drilling the hole and to achieve a rounded form that will assist prevent ripping.

The Scratch Awl is a kind of awl that is used to scratch

Pinching hole in leather strip and a hammer is placed.

If you have a scratch awl, a sewing awl, or even an ice pick on hand, they may help you get the hole started and keep it the appropriate size. Normally, you may drive any of these awls through the leather by hand; but, if the leather is thick or very tough, a few knocks with a mallet will suffice.

You’ll have a decent starting place for whittling off some leather with your pocket knife to produce the correctly sized, rounded hole after you’ve created the first hole. 

The Nail

Punching leather with nail by hammer.

Using a hammer and nail to puncture the leather to start the hole is another option. Simply line up the nail with your marker, hammer it through, and you’ve begun your hole.


It’s worth mentioning that you’ll probably want to keep a spare piece of wood beneath the belt so you can drive the nail into anything. Also, don’t hammer too hard; else, getting the nail out would be difficult.

After you’ve made the first puncture with the nail, you’ll want to round up the hole with a tiny, sharp pocket knife to avoid ripping.

After you’ve made the first puncture with the nail, you’ll want to round up the hole with a tiny, sharp pocket knife to avoid ripping.

Michael Magnus is a North Texas-based digital advertising educator, consultant, and freelancer. Magnus promotes the art of leatherworking as a recreational leathercraft historian and content developer with Elktracks Studio when he is not teaching or spending time with his family.



How to make a hole in a leather belt is not difficult, but it does require some patience. There are 6 methods that will help you create the perfect hole for your needs. Reference: how to put a hole in a belt with scissors.

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