Punching: Using Hole Punches

Hole punches create uniform round- and oval-shaped holes of various sizes. They are required for installing just about every kind of hardware, and can be used on their own to create small, perfectly shaped leather parts, like washers.




Mechanical pencil

Hole punch


Cutting mat


Techniques Used

Working with Templates


1 Mark the hole locations. Using a straightedge (or a template) and a mechanical pencil, mark where the holes need to be punched. For small holes, marking a dot at the center point may be sufficient, but for larger holes, draw the entire outline of the hole shape.


2 Position the punch. Position the hole punch over the marks. Hold the punch vertically with one hand. If it’s held at an angle, one lip of the punch will dig in further than the other and a perfect hole is less likely to be cut.


3 Strike the punch. Strike the top of the punch with the mallet. Bring the hammer straight down; if you bring it down at an angle, it will apply horizontal forces on the punch. Try to hit the mallet just hard enough to go all the way through the leather, without cutting into the mat.


4 Gently strike a second time, if needed. If your first strike did not go all the way through the leather, strike again with reasonable force so as not to damage the mat along with the leather.

For large holes, mark the shape a fraction smaller than the punch size to ensure the line gets fully cut out. If you’re cutting the shape rather than the hole, such as with a round washer, don’t mark the shape at all to avoid pencil lines on your final product.

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