How to Straighten Leather Cord

© by Rena Klingenberg; © 2003-Present Rena Klingenberg. All Rights Reserved

Here’s a simple, fun way to straighten leather cord that’s coiled up too tightly to be easily used.

When you buy leather cord for making jewelry, it often comes wrapped around a spool like this:

Once it’s coiled, leather likes to stay that way!

When you’ve bought several yards or meters of leather cord, the spool is a handy way to keep it untangled. But the downside is that once the cord has been coiled around the spool, it often acquires that curve and refuses to uncurl when you’re ready to make jewelry with it.

So here’s what I do.

It’s a technique that traditional leather workers have used for centuries to straighten and soften leather cord.

I have a collection of bone beads (see them in the photo above) that I’ve come across just from buying various bead lots that had natural beads in them.

I saved these particular bone beads aside because they have hole sizes that accommodate the leather cord widths I often use.

After I cut off the length of leather cord I need for a project, I simply run it back and forth through one of the beads a few times, to soften the cord and take the curl out of it.


For best results, you need to angle the bead slightly as you do this, so that it scrapes across the surface of the leather.

The scraping is what softens the cord and relaxes the curl.

I find that after the leather is softened and relaxed like this, it’s much nicer to work with as a jewelry making component.

It also takes on a very nice “distressed” quality.

I think what I especially enjoy about using this technique is knowing that our ancestors used this same method in creating things. I like feeling connected to them by doing things the same way they did.

Here’s our newly straightened leather cord:

You can see how easy this is to do – and it’s fun, too!

how to straighten leather cord

I hope you enjoy this new technique in jewelry making.

Rena Klingenberg

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