How To Replace Trunk Handles
How to replace leather trunk handles is a very common question I get. Most trunk handles were made over 100 years ago and the handles are either now missing or broken. There is no way to restore or save handles on most trunks because of the age of the leather. I occasionally find a trunk that has wooden handles. There are no current suppliers that I know of that sell wooden handles and it will be best to either save the original ones or replace them with leather handles.
Determine the type of leather trunk handles that you need
Handles can come in a variety of thicknesses and it it is important to have a handle that is strong enough to support the weight of the trunk.
There are three common types of leather trunk handles. Slotted, wide end and solid. After you determine what type of leather trunk handle is needed follow the directions below. There are some other types of leather handles that your trunk could have on it but for the most part it should be one of the handles listed below. I have come across a few trunks that have had wooden handles on them but it is very rare.
How to replace leather trunk handles – Slot and Wide End Handles
- Pull the nails from the end caps or loops. Be careful not to damage the wood behind the end cap and leather handle. Use a tack puller and End Nipper to remove the nails.
- Replace the handle loop or end cap. You can use clench nails or screws. Make sure that the screw is not to long or it will stick out inside the trunk. If it is tolong you can cut the end of the screw off with a rotary tool or cut off wheel.
- Repeat this process until you have replaced the leather handles on both sides of your trunk.
How to replace leather trunk handles – Solid Leather Type
- Remove nails from end caps using a tack puller and and end nipper. Be careful not to damage the wood behind the end cap and leather handle.
- Remove the old handles.
- Drill holes trough the old handle.
- Use nails or screws to attach the new leather handles. If the screw is to long simply cut off the part that sticks out on the inside with a rotary tool.
- Replace the end caps with nails.
- Repeat these steps until you have replaced all of your leather trunk handles.
How to replace leather trunk handles – Tips & Tricks
- Make sure that your new leather trunk handle is thick enough so it will not break when the trunk is lifted up.
- When removing the metal loop or end cap from the trunk make sure to not force the nails out. Use a pair of end nippers to slowly rock the nail out.
- Do not try to use any type of glue or adhesive on the handles. I promise that it will not hold up.
- Make sure that the finished side of the leather handle is a facing out and the rough side is facing in.
- Always drill a small hole in solid leather handles and do not over tighten screws
- If you are using clinch nails make sure the nails are 1/4″ longer than the thickness of the trunk and handle combined.
- If you want to use screws to attach the new leather trunk handles I suggest using coarse threaded drywall screws.
- Make sure that you use at least two nails or screws on the end of each trunk handle ( a total of 4 screws or nails per one handle)
- Do not try to bend over (clinch) modern nails. Modern steel has to much carbon it and they will not bend over tight enough. You must use old fashioned clinch nails (hand cut nails)