When you are using Leather Cord for your DIY jewelry projects, you always need to soften or straighten a leather cord first before being able to use it fully in a project. Since leather cords, like other strings used for creating DIY jewelry, usually come in spools, or sold in different lengths, you may wonder how you can straighten them to work with, so your piece doesn’t end up looking warped or awkward.
Straightening process for Leather cord
The first thing that you need to know is that leather cords is tougher than cotton threads.
They are always tougher and more resistant to physical changes because they are made of hide, and hide is supposed to harden when cured as leather. Familiarity with the material you are using is always important.
So if you have been working with cotton strings or crafting thread for a long time, working with leather cords (whether genuine or faux) might be a slightly different experience altogether because leather cords tend to require a bit more coaxing when you are knotting them or braiding them.
Should you keep them in a spool? Absolutely. Any length of leather cord would do well kept on a spool because it is still the handiest way to prevent the leather cord from tangling. However, it’s important that you know how to soften and straighten the cord before engaging in a new project.
The simplest method
The simplest method of softening leather cords is by pinching a section of the cut cord with your thumb and index finger and using your other hand to bend the leather cord back and forth. What this technique does is it wakes up the stiff fibers of the leather and allows them to become more pliant again.
This technique may work for shorter cuts of leather cord (like the ones use for bracelets) but if you need a truly straight cord, you may want to check out the more traditional method of softening and straightening the cord which involves the use of a bone bead and additional friction.
The neat, traditional method that we are talking about (for straightening leather cords), which involves the use of bone beads or equivalent beads. Natural beads are best suited for softening leather as they are easier to hold and just generally produce better results. So what you need to look for when buying bone beads particularly for this purpose is variety in the hole sizes. The hole sizes have to be sufficient for the size of the leather cords that you have at home but at the same time, they need to be snug that they ‘bite’ the leather cord a little when you are threading the cord through the bone bead.
What you need to do is to cut off the quantity of leather cord that you need for a project. Then you insert one end of that piece of cord through an appropriately sized bone bead and pull on it.
Now, it’s important that the leather cord comes into the whole at a certain angle, so that both sides of the bone bead scrape against the surface of the leather cord. The added friction while pulling on the leather cord is important as this directly softens the leather cord and allows it to be more pliant than when it was stuck in a spool.
Leather takes on the shape of its container, so when you wrap it around a central pole, it’s going to take the shape of that pole semi-permanently unless you use a technique like the one we outlined here.
With regards to the speed in the pulling, we recommend that you take your time with it as we are also after a more distressed look for the leather, which is always nice. A distressed piece of string has more texture and often a slightly darker color, which is fashionable and beautiful if you think about it. Will this technique actually straighten the leather cord? Yes.
You should be able to get a straight cord with a few kinks but no large curls. Now if you see your cord in a circular fashion after pulling it through the bone bead, the bone bead may have too loose hole, or you may not have pulled the cord at the angle where sufficient friction will be produced by the contact between these two surfaces.
Now, let us say that despite all your efforts, the leather cord that you have at home refuses to straighten. What else can you do? One trick that we have found useful over the years is adding just a bit of moisture to the leather.
This immediately softens it and after the moistening, you can try to run it across the bone bead again to see if the straightening process works well now.
(Take note that you should never soak a piece of leather under any circumstance and that you only need a small quantity of water to moisten a leather cord.)
If the bone bead method fails for the third time even after you have moistened the leather, your final option would be to use two C-clamps to secure both ends of the leather cord. Affix one end to the edge of a table and then loop the second C-clamp on the opposite end.
The contending forces of the two C-clamps will surely straighten the leather cord and create that straighter line that you need to finally create the necklace or bracelet that you have wanted.
(Take note that this process of straightening requires at least 24 hours in order to work perfectly, so just be patient. The weight of the C-clamp will naturally remove any kinks in the leather cord overnight.)