Tutorial: Leather mini u-lock holster

Ever since I got a rack on my Kona, I’ve bungee corded my u-lock to the top of it.

It’s not a particularly elegant solution, it gets in the way of attaching a pannier, and it’s a pain in the ass to get it out when I’m ready to use it.

As Rob says, I never win the “quick lock” competition. In fact, he could be in and out of the grocery story by the time I’ve even got my bike locked up at all. As I was preparing this week’s tutorial, Dottie at Let’s Go Ride A Bike posted about the best ways to carry a u-lock, so apparently it’s a problem for more people than just me.

I have a belt holster which I do like, but since I’m not always wearing a belt I need a more universal solution.

I’ve been coveting this leather u-lock holster from Walnut Studios for months. Well, let’s face it. I’ve been coveting everything from Walnut Studios ever since I first came across them.

“I could make that,” thought the girl who has absolutely no leather-working experience. “That would be fun.”

And you know what? I could make it, and it was fun.

Here’s how.

You’ll need:

  • a leather belt
  • a leather awl
  • sinew or waxed cord (I used waxed embroidery floss, because that’s what I had)
  • a big, sturdy needle
  • anorak snaps
  • anorak snap tool
  • hammer
  • binder clips
  • a mini u-lock

I promised you a more dudely project, or at least one without ruffles and bows. You’ll just have to look past the flowers on the belt—I found it at the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall, and just couldn’t resist.

Step 1: Cut yer belt up

You’ll need two lengths of about 10″ to encircle the lock, and a length of about 16″ to form the vertical piece.*

To cut out the belt piece, hold it around the u-lock so that the belt buckle is positioned the way you like it. I chose not to center mine, but you most certainly can if you like. It’s your project. Check to make sure it fits—it should be snug, but not so much that you can’t take the u-lock out easily. Cut this piece out of your belt. Check it one more time to make sure (I used binder clips to secure the ends of the loop).

Cut a second piece the exact same length.

The remainder of my belt was just the right length to then wrap around and form a hanging loop, like so. Your belt might be longer, so take this time to mock things up and make sure it will fit to your liking.

Step 2: Oh, snaps!

I used anorak (or post) snaps to secure my rack attachment loop. The ones I had in my stash were small, so I used two, but if you have nice big ones you’d probably only need one.

You need a special tool to install anorak snaps, and you definitely need some patience. I definitely wish I’d found this video before my first attempt. Go watch it if you have any doubts whatsoever.

Step 3: Make some loops

This is the fun part. Grab your awl and a work surface (I used a cutting board). Mark a number of dots about an 1/8th inch apart, then use the awl to poke holes through the dots. I put six holes on either end.

Now, you want to sew the two sides together so that they’re flush against each other, using a stitch like the baseball stitch. What I essentially did was baseball stitch down one side, then back up the other to make sure it was plenty secure.

If you’re concerned about it looking pretty, make sure that you put your best effort into the wrong side of the stitching, since the right side will be covered up in the end product. I can’t say I was too concerned about prettiness at this point.

You should now have two loops.

Step 4: Put it all together

Place the un-snapped end of your long strap in the exact center of the front of your lower loop. That is to say, right side of strap facing wrong side of loop, directly across from the loop’s seam. Use a binder clip to hold it, then mark your stitching dots. I marked six across the width of the strap down both sides.

Now carefully use your awl to punch through both layers.

Once you’ve punched through, your loop will likely not have been punched all the way through. Go ahead and go over those holes again to make sure.

Stitch the two pieces together using either a backstitch or two-needle lock stitch. The two-needle stitch is going to be the prettier of the two (and you will be able to see both sides of your stitching in the end). I used a backstitch.

Once you have the end sewn on, try it on your u-lock to gauge where it should attach on the far side of the bottom loop.

Use a pen to mark where the strap will be placed, then mark your dots for punching. I decided to go with a square formation on the back side of the loops, rather than just the two parallel lines that I did above.

Punch out your holes. I found it was easiest to use the corner of my cutting board like so:

Again, I used a backstitch to secure it.

Once you have that sewn, try it on the u-lock again to check the placement of the top loop. Sew that one on.

And you’re done! Put it on your bike!

* Reflections

In retrospect, I would have made two loops at the top, like the Walnut Industries one. I simply didn’t have enough belt material to do so, but my guess is that it would make the holder more stable.

I solved the stability problem with a mini bungee cord, and have had no problem with rattling. Play around with the design–and if you do, please tell me how it turns out!

14 thoughts on “Tutorial: Leather mini u-lock holster

  1. I agree with Biking Yogini — what great directions! Nice choice of belt, too.

    With a little bit of machine stitching, this could work up very well in webbing (or could be made from a decorative webbing belt), for those who don’t “do” leather.

  2. Definitely a more dudely project than some of your others. But I have to tell you that my husband, who just happens to be your father, said, “Is that what she wanted the leather awl for?! I would have used a cordless drill!”
    In your next dudely DIY post, he expects to see some power tools!

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  6. You can also do an overlock stitch with a stitching awl. That’s essentially imitating what a sewing machine does.

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  10. Hi! My boyfriend pointed out that you “have a short person bike too” (I’m a 5’1″ woman) and I was wondering if you could tell me what your rack is and where you found it? Thanks!

    • Hey Carlee,

      Yay for short people bikes! The rack is made by Planet Bike, though I “found it” in my husband’s stash of bike parts. 🙂 We had to bend it a bit to get around the disc brakes, but it works just great!

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