How to MAKE a belt out of an automobile seat belt, new and improved version.
This is two instructables in one, as I will show two different ways to make a belt. One is version 1.0, and the second is 2.0, as it was easier for me to make, and also adds the luxury of being adjustable.
Step 1: Why Do This Anyway?
I have a passion for re-purposing stuff. I often drive by the junk yards, or the dump, and see all that potential, just waiting there.
I have been accused of bringing home more stuff than I take to the dump. The problem is, I just see all those useful things, and hate to see them go to waste. Our city burns all of it's trash, and makes electricity out of the process. But then, of course, sells the power to the highest bidder.
I just couldn't stand the thought of a perfectly good camp lantern being burned...so I brought it home, and it is the one we use now.
Version 2.0 makes use of some leather working tools. A setter, and an anvil. Simple tools, that really make it possible to make a professional looking article, and they are cheap! Read on for more info.
So, here it goes...
Step 2: Look for a Car That Wants to Donate a Seat Belt
First of all: This is an instructable partly inspired by "bofthem" and his well written instructable, so, props to him, and check it out here.
In the city I live, there happens to be whole "junk" yards full of cars that want to donate their seat belts to a higher cause such as this.
Be sure the car is no longer in use, since seat belts are the law.
This place charges $4.00 for a seat belt ($2.00 per each end of the buckle). ***UPDATE*** They now charge $6.00 or $3.00 per each end of the buckle. Sheesh, prices going up everywhere! This "junk" yard is a self serve place, which I prefer. You pay $2.00 to get in the door, and then with your own tools can go get whatever you want, at great prices, since you are doing the labor.
Step 3: Get That Seat Belt Out.
I was considering undoing the bolts or screws that hold in the seat belt, as I think the mounting hardware is included in the purchase price. I can always use extra nuts and bolts for projects. But, when I got there, I realized most of the seat belts were attached with Torx head bolts, for which I did not bring a bit.
Also, many of the mounting brackets are down in hard to reach places and are hard to get to without taking out the seat, removing interior carpet, etc.
So, I decided just to cut them out as close to the end as I could.
I had my trusty Buck knife, but it really put the hurt to it, as I had to cut up against steel, and cut through some serious grime. I should have brought my utility knife with the disposable blades.
Step 4: Get That Seat Belt Home, and Give It a Cleaning.
Since I am not too keen on other people's filth, I decided to wash the seat belts I purchased. Imagining all the things people could spill, drip, or wipe on a seat belt, got me a little overwhelmed. Since I didn't want to put them in the washing machine with their buckles, I just did it by hand.
I have a deep basin type sink in the basement, so I put them all in, filled it with HOT soapy water, along with a little bleach for kicks.
The water was filthy the first two washes, and the 3rd it was pretty clean.
Step 5: Hang Them Up to Dry
Let them air dry. I used our laundry rack. Wouldn't be a good idea to put these in the dryer...
I got a few different kinds of belts. I plan on making them as gifts, as well as using them for different things. I was a little let down that most modern cars have rather non-discript seat belt buckles. Most of them are like the one at the top of the photo. Black plastic with a red button. I checked Ford, Chevy, Dodge, VW, Mercedes, Audi, Honda, Toyota, etc. All would be indistinguishable from each other once out of the car.
The large dark green one with the round button would never fit through any of my pant belt loops, but is adjustable. I plan on using it to make a harness for pulling a sled (pulk) when I snowshoe or go ice fishing.
Step 6: Gather All the Supplies, It's Time to Assemble!
Starting at the top of the photo:
Stapler - common household item
Hammer - also common
Scissors - also common
Ice pick - also common, especially if you are prone to picking ice, or stabbing things
Seat belt strap - The one we just got cleaned up and dry
Snap parts - more detail later
Seat belt buckle - also recently acquired from junk yard and cleaned up
Permanent marker - also common
Lighter - remove that annoying safety piece covering the wheel
Snap installing tools - Anvil and setter, more later on this also
Step 7: Lets Gets Started Making
The first obstacle I noticed was this little guy...
It is just a plastic rivet, that keeps the seat belt buckle from sliding way down out of reach.
I just grabbed a small standard, or flat, screwdriver, stuck it under the edge, being careful to not damage my seat belt webbing. It popped off with just a twist of the handle. There is no hole, it had been installed by pushing the fibers apart. Pretty easy really.
Step 8: Clean Up the Ends
Now, it's time to clean up the ends.
I think this step may void any seat belt warranty, so proceed with caution.
Cut them nice and strait with the scissors. It is surprisingly easy to cut. Make sure you don't cut it too short!
Measure around your waist twice, and cut once. I didn't use a tape, I just physically put the belt around my waist, added a about another 10 -12 inches, and then held that spot with my fingers.
Step 9: Stop the Fray
Melt the new ends slightly with the lighter. This only takes a few seconds. The tip of the orange flame is the hottest spot. Hold the seat belt there until it starts to liquefy and smoke a little, then move it. You don't want it to burn or get too discolored.
Step 10: Attach Buckle
On this belt, you can see that the metal tab was still attached to the belt, from the factory. So, with this belt, all I have to do is attach the buckle. The trickiest part to this step is getting the proper length. Measure it several times, because you want to get it right. Too short will be useless, as will too long.
This raised an issue with me: with different pants, or if I am going to tuck in my shirt or not, my belt needs to be a little different length. This belt is NOT adjustable.
This is one of the reasons I decided to go for version 2.0 in the following steps.
So, feed the belt through the buckle as shown, pull it over it's self, mark with marker, and then sew. I stapled mine in place until it can be sewn.
I am not much of a tailor, so following this step, I will show you an alternative, and sort of a 2.0 version, as I think it is better.
Step 11: Let's Kick It Up a Notch
With this belt, both parts of the buckle were not attached.
Step 12: Cut Ends
Cut ends as shown, and fuse after cutting using before mentioned method with lighter.
Again, be careful not to cut too short. Measure the belt around your waist a couple times, then add another 10-12 inches, and cut. With this one, don't worry about being too long.
Step 13: OH SNAP!
Fold over, and mark as shown.
Push ice pick through both layers of belt, and make a nice hole. You are not cutting the fibers here, just spreading them apart. Work the pick around some to get them to separate so you can do the next steps.
Step 14: Snap Information
Shown are the tools, and hardware you need to install this snap, with accompanying links for further info and purchase.
I got all my snap supplies from The Tandy Leather factory in town, but they have a great web site: http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/
Top is the setter
stock number 8058-00
Left is the anvil stock number 8056-00
On the right are the 4 pieces to the snap.
I used "Line 24" black snaps for this belt stock number 1263-03
Make sure you get the right parts of the snaps together. The pieces are lined up here that go together. On the left is the pieces that are what I call the "round" pieces. The upper piece has the rounded bottom, and the lower piece has the gentle rounded outside edge.
The two pieces on the right are what I call the "flat and tall" pieces. The upper one has a flat bottom, a thin edge, and a tall post. The lower one has the thin edge, and is "tall."
Step 15: Install the Snaps
Separate the fibers, and push in the post from the bottom.
I actually ended up putting the post over the ice pick, then sliding the pick with the snap post on it, using the pick as a guide of sorts.
Put the collar over the post, get the anvil under with the flat side up, and put your setter on the post, and drive it home with the hammer. You must curl the post all the way down, so it is out of the way, and you don't want that snap to get away or work loose. You don't want to loose your pants, or anything you may have hanging on your belt (Leatherman, holster, knife, quiver, etc).
Keep checking as you go, until you get it hammered to the right curl.
It's important to keep everything as straight as possible, so keep an eye on the post to make sure it is curling evenly as you hammer happily along.
Step 16: Install Other Half of Snap
Just the same way, only make sure your anvil has the concave side up, and make especially sure you don't go too far with the hammering with this side, as this is the side that will show on the outside.
Fold your webbing as needed, and push it through the slit of the tab. Before you install any part of the snap, make sure it will slide through the tab. You may want to push the webbing through, and then install the snap pieces. Would be a bummer to install the snap, and then not have it fit through opening.
Step 17: Install Other Snap
Install the other snap for the buckle end. This is the area that you can make adjustable, as you can install more than one snap. I measured one for the fit of the pants I had on, then went about 1 inch to each side, for smaller and bigger sizes.
Hence, this would be adjustable, as you can just move between snaps for different lengths.
Step 18: Enjoy Your Good Looking Handy Work
This is the time when you get to put on the belt, go out on the town, and enjoy all the looks and conversation that will arise from you having the coolest belt around.
Especially catchy at car shows, monster truck jams, NASCAR events, and the like.