Make Your Own Leather Tab

Here is an idea that happened out of necessity. My favorite tab was lost in the woods, and my spare was a bit too thin. An old pair of Wolverine slip-on boots were outside getting beat up by the elements, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. Then the idea just came to me. I laid my spare tab on the upper part of the boot, traced a copy and cut it out. With a few adjustments, I designed it to my specs. I liked the prototype so much that I made as many as I could with the rest of the boot leather.

The finger hole is the hardest part of the design. Trace the finger hole, then fold the leather and cut a slit. Use scissors to trim it to fit your finger. The photo shows some of the rough tabs and the scissors I used for this project. I also had to show off my Fred Bear Custom Kodiak Takedown.


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  1. Scott March 15, 2017 at 10:07 am - Reply

    I make my own tabs, too. I prefer the “Western Tab” with one hole for the index finger and a larger, oblong hole for the two fingers under. This type of tab is hard to find commercially. I traced the pattern from an old Ben Pearson tab of this style before it completely wore out. I use a scrap of thick leather purchased from a leatherworker vendor at a 3D shoot. One additional advantage of these homemade tabs is that they can be used “righty” or “lefty’ so I can loan a tab to a new shooter who shoots with the “wrong” hand. Prolong the life of the tab by treating it with a leather dressing such as Montana Pitch Blend.

  2. Robin Conrads
    Webmother March 15, 2017 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Thanks, Scott. That tab sounds interesting. Do you have a photo? I see now that we don’t have a way to post photos in comments, so I’ll look into that. ~Robin

  3. Jason Albert March 15, 2017 at 11:08 am - Reply

    I have been working on a finger tab design for years, but I have not come up with one that I am happy with yet. Being a leather-smith, I am a bit picky though. Finding the right type of leather and design is proving to be a challenge. i am getting close though. You are right about that finger hole. It is hard to produce a good clean cut. I would like to see some more pictures of the finished product. I really enjoyed this article. I like how short and to the point it was. Thank you for sharing.

    • Scott March 16, 2017 at 11:05 am - Reply

      I’ve had fairly good luck cutting the finger holes by punching (NOT cutting) through the leather with a small, pointed X-acto knife after I’ve traced the pattern.

  4. William D Warren March 15, 2017 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    If you have woodworking tools handy try cutting the finger hole with a half round chisel or maybe even a gouge like used to turn wood on a lathe. Use a soft wood block to work on so you don’t dull your edge. Find the correct size that matches the radius of your finger hole and press the chisel into the leather around the hole until you have it cut out.


  5. Skip March 23, 2017 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    Palm tabs require no holes. A wrist sling keeps it handy-I tuck mine up the sleeve of my string hand to keep it clean.

    For those desiring cordovan leather for tabs, look in thrift stores for shoes of that material-cut out the tongue for your tab-last a loooong time.

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