I should have know better when I was asked if I could have a look at repairing Mr Purdie’s leather belt. I had envisaged that the stitching had failed around the buckle rather than a catastrophic failure of the leather itself! The difficulty was that the belt was made from 4mm leather so cutting in a repair section, of sufficient strength, would make the leather around the buckle far too bulky. Also if 4mm of leather had failed, how long would the repair last?

The aim was to bond a section of leather to line the inside of the buckle loop, tapering the ends to reduce the bulkiness. Measurements were taken for the belt as a whole in case I need to knock up a replacement in some bridle leather.

Over time the movement of the buckle had worn through the leather so the options for repair were fairly limited.
The first thought was to cut off the section folded back at the point of failure and then create a new folded section. However there wasn’t sufficient spare leather at the other end of the belt to accommodate. Therefore the only option was to cut in a new section of leather.
The first thing to do was to skive the two sides where it had worn through and bond the two sides together. Whilst this would not offer any strength, it would enable the whole buckle loop to be lined by bonding in some new leather.
The repair is still visible but the aim is to fill the small crack and re-dye
The buckle hole was cut into the new section of leather before bonding in two stages
The two ends of the new leather were skived to taper them to reduce the bulkiness of the repair
Until recently, my ‘go to’ adhesive has been Evo-Stik’s Instant Contact Adhesive, which provides a flexible join with a good bond strength. However its downside is that, once the tin has been opened, it becomes progressively harder to apply as the volatile solvent evaporates over time. I’ve always been sceptical of water based adhesives but the Ecostick products seem to be comparable. The 1816B is ideal for general use where the joint is also stitched while the 5019N is much stronger.
Plenty of water based contact adhesive was applied to bond the new leather. After about 10 minutes the two sides dry to the point of being tacky to the touch. at which point they are pressed together to make a (hopefully!) permanent bond.
Several layers of heavy Flexifil leather filler were used to build up the small crack where the original leather was bonded together. This would be sanded back once dry.

Belt repair seemed to be the flavour of the month as I was also asked to fix a belt made by Tod’s. Although not much leatherwork was involved in fixing the belt, the design was interesting as the ’buckle’ was made from interlocking leather pieces. The size adjustment is provided by an elasticated webbing, adjusted for length via a metal slider.

The elastic strands within the webbing had failed near where it joined the leather buckle section. So it was just a matter of unpicking the machine stitching so the broken section could be removed from the leather buckle.
The webbing could then be cut back to a good section of webbing before glueing and stitching back into the buckle.