Leather is a notoriously difficult fabric to work with. Since it is made from the skin of animals, it is both supple and delicate at the same time. Any hole made in the fabric presents an opportunity for the fabric to rip and tear further. Despite these drawbacks, installing snaps on leather is a relatively pain-free process that even people without previous leather working experience can accomplish in a short period of time with the right tools.
Select a leather punch of a slightly smaller diameter than the snap. A leather punch is a tool that creates an even hole in the leather without the need for scissors or knives.
Punch a hole in the leather at the spot you wish to insert the snap.
Create a second hole corresponding to the first on another piece of leather, if applicable. A jacket, for example, would need a hole in each lapel in order to fasten shut. Place your holes accordingly.
Split the snaps into their base components. Each snap has two pieces, a finished or closed top which shows when the snap is closed and the pronged or posted end that attaches the finished top to the leather. The pronged or posted end has either a “male” or “female” piece that allows the snap to close when coupled with the opposite snap.
Position one of the snap components with a post or prong face up on the anvil. Place the punched hole in the leather over the post. Set the snap component by placing a female closure on top of the post, sandwiching the leather between the two components.
Layer the snap setter over the closure component. Hit the setter with the mallet two to three times, hammering it in place. Remove the finished snap and piece of leather from the anvil.
Position the male closure piece on the setting anvil with the stud facing downward. Position the second punched piece of leather over the stud. Place the socket or pronged cap post on top of the leather, aligned with the male closure piece, sandwiching the leather between the two components.
Place the snap setter over the closed top of the snap component. Strike the setter with the mallet, hammering the snap components in place.
Any hole made in leather stays in the leather. Double check the position of your snaps before punching holes by making a mark with tailor's chalk. Alternately, use a piece of double-stick tape to affix the snaps to the leather and try them out before affixing them to the leather.