How to make a bone folder, cheap and easy

I’ve been working leather for a while now, mainly making sheathes and cases for my tools. They were intended to be functional, not pretty. Recently I’ve been trying to make some prettier things out of leather too, such as a case for my Nexus 7. To make clean lines and sow neatly and cleanly, I needed a folding bone. These things aren’t available a lot where I live, however. So I decided to make one. It turned out to be incredibly easy.

Making bone folder - materials


I used materials that I had lying around. Coincidentally, I got all these things from family members or acquaintances that either passed away or just stopped using the things for one reason or another. The oak weaving spools came from an old friend of my mother’s, who used to make beautiful woven tapestries. I cleaned out her garage recently and got all kinds of things, both weaving-related and other. Her husband, who passed away years ago, was a silversmith and also carved wood. She had some beautiful teak lying around that he didn’t carve yet. I think I’ll be making guitar necks out of it, I’ll show you later. the leather cord came from an old friend of my mother-in-law’s. The friend was an old lady who passed away two years ago, and was the last of a family of artistic people. She had all kinds of cool stuff. I got some leatherworking things and a lot of habedashery from her. The bone came from my grandfather. He used to make models of ships and such out of wood. He was really good at it, but sadly he has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t even remember that he used to do woodworking. This piece of bone was in a tin filled with carving supplies, gauges and such. I think he made little details for the ships out of it.

Making bone folder




I started out by splitting one of the oak spools (that was already split) into quarters. I carved the quarter down to the size that felt right in my hand. I used a carving knife and my Lie-Nielsen 102 low-angle block plane. I could have used a spoke shave if I could have clamped the wood, but this felt more comfortable.Making bone folder IMG_0644 IMG_0646

I scored a line across the end with a three-square file and ripped down about 1,5cm (half an inch). I widened the slot with my knife and some files.  IMG_0650 IMG_0651

I cut the bone in half and sanded it smooth on the sides. IMG_0652 IMG_0655

I made notches on the side of the wood so I could rap the leather string around it more easily.




I marked out the bone tip, sawed it off with my coping saw. I cut down the wood near the bone, and the other end of the wood, to make it look more elegant. I glued the bone into the wood with a drop of medium viscosity superglue. I wrapped around the leather and wet it with a water-soda solution. This makes the leather hard and stiff once it dries. I finished the wood with linseed oil, and then my homemade hard wax. Finally, I polished the bone on sanding paper up to 2000-grit.

Making bone folder


And it works like a charm! The whole thing cost me no money and less than an hour to make.

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3 replies on “How to make a bone folder, cheap and easy

    • Lieuwe

      Dear Gemme,

      Thanks for your comment. As far as making your own tools goes, I think this is pretty easy. Most of these tools you will find in some shape or form in any toolbox. All it really takes is a sharp knife, a saw, some sanding paper and the materials. Things like the little block plane are handy, but not essential at all. I do agree, it’s pretty darn hard to make this thing without any tools. If you need any tips to make this thing, I could give you some workarounds or alternatives. Just let me know!

      Best wishes,

  • Janet

    This post is incredible and useful and inspiring. I don’t have the same hand tools but I do have a Dremel and sand papers. I don’t have a spare bone but I do have a piece of bone jewelry that I can repurpose. I have spare wood pieces of furniture and leather strap. This will be FUN. Thanks!


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