DIY Home Decor: How to Make a Leather Valet Tray

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Railroad Leather Co.)

When Paul’s not busy restoring vintage items, he’s down in his basement workshop crafting leather goods for his etsy shop. Most projects are made to fill orders but, every once in awhile, he makes personal projects as well, including this super simple valet. Here’s how to do it yourself:

Skill Level: Easy
Time Required: 1 hour
Project Cost: $20-50 (depending on size and tools used)

When choosing your piece of leather, pick something thick and firm enough to hold its shape. Paul used 4 ounce vegetable tanned leather for this project. You can either dye vegetable tanned leather, buy it pre-finished, or opt to use a different kind of leather that is the color and texture you are looking for.

What You Need


  • Leather scrap
  • Copper rivets
  • Copper burrs


  • Ruler
  • Marking tool (pen, awl, or embosser)
  • Ball peen hammer and/or rivet setter
  • Knife
  • Hole punch (optional)


(Image credit: Railroad Leather Co.)

1. First decide how big you want to valet to be. In this case, Paul took several items he planned to store in the tray, laid them out and measured their footprint, then added an inch in every direction to accommodate the sides.

(Image credit: Railroad Leather Co.)

2. Once you know your size, it’s time to draw onto the leather. Mark both the outside shape of the valet, as well as the lines where you’ll eventually fold the leather up to make the sides.

Tip: Although you can use a pen for this step, Paul prefers to use a metal point (like the one on the photo) that leaves an indent that is easy to follow, without having to worry about ink bleeding or smearing elsewhere on the leather.

(Image credit: Railroad Leather Co.)

3. Next, cut out the leather. There are specialty knives (like a head knife or wood carvers knife), but a simple X-Acto knife with a new blade will do the trick.

(Image credit: Railroad Leather Co.)

4. Next, fold the leather on the embossed the line. This is to encourage the leather to hold the desired shape when the corners are pinched together.

5. After pinching each of the four corners together, secure them in place. Here, Paul uses rivets, which might seem difficult, but are really quite simple. You can buy copper rivets individually at your local hardware store (just don’t forget the little copper washers that go with them).

Tip: If you don’t like rivets you can sew them together with a needle and thread instead, or with a tool like the Speedy Stitcher.

(Image credit: Railroad Leather Co.)

Figure out where to place the rivets. Just remember, the rivets will actually pinch and hold the leather together about an 1/8 inch beyond the edge of the rivet head. If you’ve never worked with rivets before, buy a few extra and practice on a scrap piece of leather before you do this step.

(Image credit: Railroad Leather Co.)
(Image credit: Railroad Leather Co.)

7. Now insert the rivets in their holes and smash them down tight.

(Image credit: Railroad Leather Co.)

Add your keys and wallet, and you’re done!

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