Sources for material for finger tabs


I'm currently using a Kaya Soul finger tab, and while I'm fairly happy with it, I've noticed that no-one seems to have stock of replacement faces or backing for them any more. In fact anything from Kaya seems to be end of line, while stocks last, so I assume that's an ominous sign for the brand?

Anyway, on to the point, I figure if the worst comes to the worst I could just cut some leather to shape. I was considering using three rather than two layers anyway to give a little extra protection.

When it comes to leather, can anyone recommend a source of sheets suitable for the purpose? Cordovan seems fairly rare and expensive, so are there other grades/materials worth using? Also what is the backing material, I assume it's suede of some kind? Again, info on any suppliers who might be able to help would be much appreciated. I've been doing a little reading and seen mention of Vulkollan, which is some type of plastic which I understand can be used instead of leather. Any thoughts on that?

As for the actual making of the tab, the Kaya (like most I suppose) has got loads of holes in it for screws to attach the faces to the metal plate. How would one go about cutting them out - very carefully with a scalpel or something, or is it OK to just drill the material?

Thanks for any information and tips :)

Timid Toad

Staff member
Fonz Awardee
I've been shooting vulcolan for 10+ years, on Simon Needham's recommendation. It doesn't need to be shot in, doesn't change when it's wet, is much cheaper than cordovan and really lasts well. You can cut it with scissors. As to backing, I've got 3 layers of a very thing soft old leather jacket. It's worth experimenting with backing, but there's no hard and fast rules. It's there for comfort.

Del the Cat

Well-known member
Plenty of old leather in the form of shoes, boots, bags furniture always comes in handy.
Cleanest way to put holes in leather is a punch. For small holes a masonry nail (or similar hard steel with the end ground dead flat (or concave on a small grinding wheel).Put the leather on some nice dense wood like Oak, good smite with a hammer and it will punch a lovely clean hole. That's what I do for stitching.
For big holes, tube is better. Don't be tempted to buy a cheap hole punch, the type with a wheel that has different sized holes, they are awful.
Just thought, the part from a paper punch would be good, the sort that makes a pair of holes for ring binders. :)


I needed a thicker leather as middle layer for my tab. Went to a shoe-smith that also handles leather and asked for it. "What's the application?". Raised eyebrows when I explained. But he sold me some thick strong scraps which are still going strong after 2 years.
And +1 on the punch & hammer for holes.


You can get good punch pliers... But like everything else, quality costs, and you are likely to only be able to source them from a specialist.
Individual punches have the additional advantage of not being limited in how far from the edge you can work (without doing the whole awkward thing of using the pliers backwards, with a hammer).

For cutting slots for a tab face it's good to punch each end, then cut between, to remove the rest of the material. It leaves a cleaner finish - less likely to tear/give way.

Vulcolan is supposed to be good (I've not used it myself), cordovan is good but hard to find, even forgetting the expense. There are plenty of fakes.
I've been using Oberon for some years which looks like a kind of tougher craft foam. Less durable than Vulcolan, but some of the same advantages. Some people prefer if for a backing than a face. I don't find that backing needs replacing as often as the face, however.

If you can get a replacement kaya face and not use it, it will make an execellent template for a new face. Failing that you have to try and flatten out an old one.
Draw round the template with a ballpoint. Mark each hole and slot similarly. Cut just inside the line for the outside shape. Cut holes and slots just slightly larger than the markings.


Well-known member
I shoot a Kaya too and managed to get a spare off eBay when I realised no one had any in stock any more, such a shame.

Mine has a third layer of leather fitted by me already - all of my leather comes from there sources:

local cobblers - not high street chains but independents, they have loads of offcuts in a wide variety of thicknesses plenty large enough for a tab face and I've always been given them for free

charity shops - plenty of bags & boots for not much money but provide masses of leather to re-work

saddlers - this is where I get my Cordovan offcuts, I admit there aren't many about and I am fortunate that as I work in the equine industry I have access to a lot of them

I took a template from the cordovan face when I first bought the tab and when making replacements I draw around this with a ballpoint onto the leather including in the holes and cut from that line.

The holes are simple - I use a hobby leather punch which cost about ?8 back in the day and is still doing well having been abused on leather, card, nylon webbing and plasticard (mini files put an edge back on now & again) with slots cut using Rik's method.

The backing I use is a thin lining leather from the inside of a pair of riding boots - the outer leather is Cardovan too which is a bonus :) - it has a shiny face and a sueded face which is what I have next to my fingers.