How to Make a Cheap Leather Hang Tag for your Handicrafts

I went out to lunch with my amazing friend Erica this afternoon, and she mentioned something that got me to thinking. Her brother owns a clothing company, and has always wanted to add small leather hang tags with the company logo from his goods. I wondered to myself, “I bet I can put together a simple setup that anyone could use with ease, and easily make over a hundred tags an hour, for under $100.” I didn’t hit the goal on the financial part, but if someone was inclined to shop around on eBay for a bit, I’m sure they could get darn close.

00

The tools needed are:

  1. A utility knife
  2. A metal straight edge
  3. A strap cutter or draw gauge
  4. A rotary punch
  5. An arbor press

01

There’s one other think that you’ll need, and that’s the hard part.  You’re gonna have to have your custom stamp machined with your logo on it.

02

From all the leather workers I’ve met, everyone gets their stamps from LW via Etsy.  In fact, if you want to skip the arbor press altogether, and just go with his high-end heat embosser with your stamp on it, that works well too, for a few more dollars.

Oh, and you’re going to need to get some leather.

03

I could go on and on about all the different aspects of leather, and this and that, but for this little job, I’ll just cut to the point.  You want inexpensive tooling leather:  3-4 ounce, top grain, vegetable tanned, natural.  It’s inexpensive and easy to work with.

In fact, if you’re lucky, you can easily find a leather supplier or a custom shop and buy scraps of this stuff by the pound, and we’re just making tags, so we don’t need to purchase a full hide at a time.  I probably have 30 pounds of these scraps in my shop that I’d gladly just GIVE away.

04

First things first, I’m planning on making tags that are 1″ x 2.5″, so I’m going to set the strap cutter to a 1″ width.

05

Then, it’s just as easy as pulling the leather through the gauge, keeping it snug against the side to create a perfect 1″ wide strip of leather that’s a couple feet long.  Check this out:

06

There we go.  A whole strip of 1″ wide leather.  Now, we just cut it.  It’s really that easy.

07

I just use a simple cutting mat, because I’m not aiming for super perfect here.  It’s just a damn hang tag.

08

After I have my little 1″ x 2.5″ tag cut, it’s time to press my logo into it.  I’m just eyeballing it here, but I aim to leave about a 1/4″ border around the stamp, and offset it to one side or the other to leave room for the hole.  I wet the leather just a little on the top so that the stamp cuts a little deeper in the damp leather.  Then, I just pull down the handle on the stamp, and presto!

09

Don’t worry if it looks weird at first.  It’ll dry quickly and be fine.

10

Then, I just eyeball it again, pop it into the punch and click a little hole into the long end.

12

Done!  I went a little fancy and just nicked off the corners with the utility knife and added a shaved strip of leather to hang it from, but it’s up to anyone if they want to tie in or with cord or a little metal chain or whatever.  Put to task, I could easily do 100 of these in an hour without thinking twice.