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Jedi Utility Belt Tutorial
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EeanLedgor ()
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:16 am    Post subject: Jedi Utility Belt Tutorial Reply with quote

Jedi Belt Tutorial

Here is a tutorial on how to make Jedi Utility Belts. This features just the belt fabrication. Please understand that this is how I make Jedi belts. I am not a leather worker, and have only learned what I need to know to do some rudimentary leather working. There are others who have far greater talents than me and quite likely can show or tell you better or easier methods to accomplish what is featured in this tutorial.

With that said...I will be showing how I made both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker belts from Return of the Sith (though I will only show the OWK finished product).

Most of the items you see in this tutorial came from Tandy Leather Factory. The products they sell come from a "central" manufacturer...so, the leather store in your area might have the same item, but it might have a different name or catalogue number. Regardless of where you are on the planet, you can browse the Tandy site for ideas. Oh...they also have an incredible array of "how to" video tutorials which are awesome!!!
http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/home/home.aspx

First, get some belt blanks. You can either buy precut belt blanks or get some leather and cut the leather yourself. The only problem with buying leather and cutting the blanks yourself is you'll buy enough leather to make a lot of belts.


This shows the size I chose for the blanks for the OWK ROTS belt.


This shows the two thicknesses I'm using for the belt parts. The thicker leather blank (roughly 6oz. to 7 oz.) is used for the inner/wider belt and the back keeper. The leather used for the outer/thinner leather belt and the outer/thinner belt keepers is roughly 2 oz. to 3 oz.


When working with leather, it needs to be wet. Not sopping wet, but just we enough to change the color of the leather.


This shows a wood slicker. This is used to round and slick the edges of raw leather.


Here is the wood slicker in use:


And here is the difference between slicked and non slicked leather:


Sometimes the back of the leather is really rough. This is NOT the case here...


...but if it is, then you can use this tool, the safety beveler to sort of "shave" the fuzzy or rough leather in order to make it smooth. Be careful...practice before "shaving" your leather. This thing is incredibly sharp and can ruin your leather in one stroke!


In my case, the back of the leather blanks I cut did not need "shaving", but I did want them smoother than they were. This tool is nothing more than a wood block that has rounded edges. I actually used this as a template to form leather for making Tusken Raider bandoliers.


Here is my wood smoother in action:

Again, the leather was wet and I simply moved the wood back and forth with LOTS of pressure to get the "rough" side of the belt blank smoother. You'll never get it as slick as the "finished" side, but this will really help make the rough side smooth enough so you can slide your belt around your obi as you're getting dressed for just the right position.

Next up, I do some leather "carving" (for lack of a better word) for the Anakin ROTS belt. His belt has a groove approximately 1/4" from each edge of the inner/wider belt and then along the edges of the outer/thinner belt. This is a picture of a stitching groover. It's primarily used to make a groove into which you stitch leather together. But it can be used to make decorative grooves as well.


The stitching groove is adjustable...and here it is in use:


This shows the OWK blank on top and the Anakin blank (with grooves) on bottom:


Now we need to age the leather or make it "worn". Basically, you're going to crush the leather to get the wrinkled effect. I used two methods (again the leather is wet when I do this).

First, I fold the leather finished sides together and press very firmly along the whole length.


Then, once the leather is pliable, I do the same thing only instead of using my hand, I use a rubber mallet and beat the crap out of it. And let me tell you...my arms get sore after about 45 minutes of pounding (remember I'm making two belts here).

I fold the leather both ways alternating between finished sides together and unfinished sides together. I make at least 2-3 passes each way for a total of 4-6 "pounding" sessions. And when I say "beat the crap" out of, I mean...I'm pounding the leather really hard.

And here is a before (on top) and after (on bottom) aging:


NOW, we're ready to stain the leather. I used these two stains:

These are water/based leather dyes. The left dye is Java Brown, the right is Dark Mahogany.

The OWK ROTS belt is a dark reddish brown (some say with a mahogany tint). My recipe for this dye was two (2) parts Java Brown and one (1) part Dark Mahogany.

The Anakin ROTS belt is (mostly) a plain dark brown. I used nothing but the Java Brown for this belt.

It's key to put the stain on evenly. I used wool daubers (which are efficient and keep you from wasting dye). These are basically a 5" wire with a wool ball on the end of it. You can wash them and use them over. Again....the leather is wet for dyeing. If you don't wet the leather, it can be more difficult to get an even stain and the stain may be a lot darker than you want. Adding stain to darken leather is easy...removing stain isn't.

Here's one coat of the OWK recipe:


Here's two coats of OWK dye:


THEN, once the leather dried, I use leather (shoe) polish to REALLY bring out the beauty in the leather and to finalize the color. For the OWK ROTS belt, I used this product (color = cordovan). For the Anakin ROTS belt (not pictured), I used plain "brown".


Here is the before (on top) and after (on bottom) with the polish. I made sure I rubbed it very well to remove all excess stain and polish.


Next, I sized the belt to fit me and made markings (using masking tape) to indicate where I needed to place the holes for the button studs.


Here's a close up of the template I made (out of a for sale sign).


I used a rotary punch to make the holes. This one has multiple sizes. And yes...I did an experiment to make sure I got the spacing right and was using the right sized hole for the button studs. No worries, you will likely have some left over leather to use for experimentation.


NEXT...I attach the outer/thinner belt to the inner/wider belt. I chose to sew the belts together. I used some really thick thread and no glue. The pilot holes I made before sewing...which was done by hand. Here is a picture of an awl that I used:


And here is the result of my efforts. Yes, I eyeballed the spacing. These will be covered by a keeper, so it doesn't have to be perfect....just strong enough to attach the belts together.


As many of you know, I think Velcro is a horrible material. I prefer, when possible to use snaps. Here is a picture of Line 24 snaps. The "line 24" refers to the size. And I chose to use "black" snaps.


Here is the snap tool. Remember, there are great video tutorials on the Tandy site to show you how to place these. Practice before you do the real thing. They're a pain in the butt to remove if you screw up.


And here is the snaps I used on my OWK belt. Be sure you place the "male" and "female" parts of the snaps on the correct side of the belt. And....since I am using snaps...I need to watch my weight (and not get fat!) lol


Finally, for my Jedi belts, I use button studs. Sam Browne is a type of button stud, though the shape is a little wonky for holding the outer/thinner belt in place. These I have pictured are really good...and I prefer the screw kind (as opposed to the rivet kind). As long as they hold the belt in place and there is a button part that you can see, you're good for face characters. Also, I used the "large" from Tandy. Interestingly, the size of the stud part is the same between the "small" and "large". The difference is the size of the screw on the back which is either 5/16" or 3/8". Always go for the larger size.


And finally, my OWK ROTS belt finished!


I didn't mention the outer/thinner belt keepers. I cut the length for the outer belts long so I'd have enough left over to make the keepers. This way, when I stain the leather, the parts I cut off for the keepers are the same color as everything else. I also size them and sew them together. Some may glue them, but that's a horrible mess (at least for me).

If anyone has any questions, feel free to comment, PM me or find me on Facebook.

I hope this tutorial helps folks make their Jedi Utility Belts.

Oh...cost? Well, not counting the tools I used (which was no big deal to me because I've made a lot of belts*...still each tool I showed was rather inexpensive), I probably have about $40 in a single belt.

*Sorry, but I do not make belts to sell.
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Last edited by EeanLedgor () on Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:32 pm; edited 7 times in total
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rogue9607 (Nick)
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for another great tutorial! I'll have to give this a try one of these days.

One question for you, and I could probably just look at my belt, but I'm interested in how you do it. How do you attach the small belt to the buckles and those keepers? I'm guessing you stitch those too, but I'm unsure.

Also, any thoughts on where to find Jedi buckles?
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The button studs hold the outer/thinner belt in place. It takes a little trial and error to figure the spacing between the button studs.

But the outer/thinner belt loops through the sides of the buckle and back under itself...and is held in place buy the front keepers.

As for buckles...there's lots of sites where you can get "Star Warsy" buckles. The OWK and Anakin are more difficult to find. And some people will go to their local thrift store and look for purses and rip the buckles off them....well, after they buy them, of course (eek....or I hope!!!).
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radtrinidad (Leia Askin)
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome belt tutorial SithariRog.
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Ixam Let'si (max)
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
SithariRog (Roger Allen) Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:39 am Post subject:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BWAHAhaha!

Yeah, I'll give excruciating detail with pics. Granted, some of the products I list might be available in Australia (though I doubt it*), you should be able to find an equivalent.

*I was just in Puerto Rico and visited a leather store. It was a locally owned shop, but they had the exact products I get in Alabama, only the packaging was different.


you weren't kidding about the details.

this is exactly what I was wondering about.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Purses and shoes at thrift stores can provide nice buckles for cheap! My buckle came off a purse I got for $.50!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v355/cope2392/Picture034_zpsd139bf26.jpg

All of these odds and ends came off purses, shoes, and belts found at thrift stores!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v355/cope2392/Picture007-1_zps6b0f30af.jpg
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Ixam Let'si (max)
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi SithariRog,

I have found a belt buckle (style B) now if I combine this buckle:




DETAILS: Large Rectangle Buckle Blank. Buckle blanks make it easy for you to design your own buckles. Buckle measures approx. 4-1/16" x 2-5/8".

with the belt seen here (don't you just love that batman symbol)



would that suffice for the jedi belt?
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, that belt buckle blank will work for a Style B Jedi belt.

The key there is to use a belt sander (well, that's the easiest thing to use) to sand the front surface in order to remove the processing welds (or make them disappear). You sand in the same direction. It gives a REALLY nice satin finish to the buckle. This is the method that most folks use in creating Imperial Officer belts for the 501st costumes.
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Ixam Let'si (max)
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SithariRog wrote:
Yes, that belt buckle blank will work for a Style B Jedi belt.

The key there is to use a belt sander (well, that's the easiest thing to use) to sand the front surface in order to remove the processing welds (or make them disappear). You sand in the same direction. It gives a REALLY nice satin finish to the buckle. This is the method that most folks use in creating Imperial Officer belts for the 501st costumes.


And the belt that I have is 1.5" wide is that too thin? Its the belt I wore with the inner tunic
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Too thin. It really should be at least 2" wide...or 2.25" wide.

But with that buckle, the widest belt you can put on it is probably the size belt you have. However....what you will do is narrow your 2"-2.25" wide belt down to fit the buckle. The belt ends up being about as wide as the buckle itself (but is narrower on the back where you loop it through the holding bar...if that makes sense).

I may have some pics showing how I did that. I'll have a look.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I spent a lot of time alternating between medium grit sandpaper and a green scotch brite pad to get rid of the weld marks on my buckle... This was for an Imperial costume but with some work your buckle can be this smooth as well.



With some work I was able to get a 2 inch belt on the buckle with not that much effort. Your mileage may vary...
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Gil,


That was very helpful.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't worry about making a mistake because you'll put the final finish on it by going from side to side in a straight line with the Scotch Brite pad.

I dull clear-coated mine when I was done and it still looks pretty good. The best part is, if it gets scratched, you can just brush it all over again!
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SithariRog wrote:
Yes, that belt buckle blank will work for a Style B Jedi belt.

The key there is to use a belt sander (well, that's the easiest thing to use) to sand the front surface in order to remove the processing welds (or make them disappear). You sand in the same direction. It gives a REALLY nice satin finish to the buckle. This is the method that most folks use in creating Imperial Officer belts for the 501st costumes.


I was wondering if you had a chance to dig up the how to get the buckle on a 2” belt?
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well...apparently, my Imperial Officer's belt is 2" wide...okay for a Luke belt or a Style B belt using the buckle you have (assuming your buckle is the same as the buckle I'm showing below).



Anyway...I did not have to resize my IO belt, but...the belt on bottom is the buckle end of a bandolier I made for my Tusken. This shows how I took a 2" belt blank and sized it down to fit the buckle. It looks fine, but I also knew that I would be wearing an outer robe for my Tusken, which would cover this part of the bandolier.

For a Style B Jedi belt where you're doing something similar (making a wider belt fit a narrower buckle, I would suggest you size it down "under" the buckle (when possible) to hide the fact that you made it thinner. OR, you could just remove the belt attaching apparatus from the buckle, attach it to the belt, then close the belt in the back with Velcro (which I hate) or snaps (as is done for most Style A belts...that is, closing in the back, not necessarily using snaps).

Hope this helps you visualize what I'm talking about.
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Last edited by EeanLedgor () on Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:08 pm; edited 2 times in total
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