Looking for affordable substitute to replace a leather piece

I’m trying to find a replacement for leather to use as part of a key fob design I am making. It needs to be laserable (of course) and sturdy enough to fold over itself and hold the weight of a key ring. Here is the original design with the part I am trying to replace in leather.

Any suggestions? The leather part is .15" thick.


Why not use leather? If you don’t want actual leather for some reason you can use the stuff from Johnsons Plastics Plus: https://www.johnsonplastics.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=saddle

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Check out Acadia Leather on Instagram. They’re having a flash sale on some stuff right now. I’ve ordered from them a few times, and it is good stuff. Not all they carry is laserable, but you can ask.

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Ethical reasons.

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Bruceaulrich, I think you may misunderstand. I do not want to use leather for ethical reasons, so I am looking for another material.

Oh, ok. Sorry…misunderstood.

I wasn’t a hundred percent clear why either, but I have some of the stuff linked to by dklgood and I think it is what you’re looking for. It is a synthetic that is laser safe.

Yeah, I’m looking at it now. I wish they had thicker pieces, but I’ll see how it works out.

0.15" is 9-10 oz leather; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a synthetic that thick. The Johnson stuff is very floppy.

Some other ideas:

  • Engrave the fob onto proofgrade maple ply and use the Johnson fake leather for the strap.
  • Use a heavy weight canvas for the fob and use the fake leather as trim. Not sure if you could get that fine of an engrave on canvas or not (I’m thinking the canvas threads will be too thick for good definition.)

I use wood for the fob, and leather for the strap, as you can see in the picture.

I’m going to also see what rubber materials I can use as well.

My mistake, I thought it was all leather.

That fire hose material then? They make dog toys from it that cannot be “wrecked”, except they can. I have some well chewed fire hose material, no idea about laser safety though.

Used canvas sailcloth has been on my “to try” list for a while…

I’ve been trying to find rubber forever and have had no luck. If you find something let me know. I did find out that linoleum is laser safe. It’s hard to find true linoleum though. Most of it is PVC.

Now I have canvas, but without a stitched edge it’s going to come apart.

I have stamp rubber coming, going to try that.

Is this actually used? Or pretty much just hung up or stuck in a drawer? If it’s not going to see wear and tear, why not a little living hinge out of wood. You could cut a couple of holes and tap a rivet into it.

I want to err on the side of caution and have something which will survive a pocket. Hence, a living hinge will not do what I need (and wasn’t what I had asked for in terms of replacing leather).

I wonder if cork fabric would hold up? Or there is also Ultrasuede, a synthetic suede. It’s pretty floppy but you could cut two layers and glue or stitch them together.

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Any thick fabric or canvas would work with a fabric stiffener applied after. (Basically just a specialty glue…when it dries, the fabric will keep the shape.)


I’ll echo the canvas suggestions. Thick or layered denim might be another option.


Alright, I got a number of sheets of the Saddle Collection Buckskin. It has a look and feel of leather on the front, and the back is fabric-like. It cuts easy and lasers well. However, while they listed the thickness as .046", it is actually .032" with no compression. I am annoyed about this and contacted Johnson to bring it up.

That being said, I was able to cut two pieces for what I needed and put them stacked on each other for the loop of the fob.