6 Techniques to Engrave Leather: Add Personalized Design to Your Leathercrafts

Leather is timeless and unique natural material that human has been used for thousands of years. It is durable, easy to wear, easy to form into all manner of objects, and just looks great in natural beauty. 

Except leather's natural beauty, creative people also want to add a personalized and elegant touch to their leather crafts they're giving as a special gift or keeping themselves. 

We often have customers looking for personalized design suggestion or want to figure out how leather engraving work. For better understanding of leather engraving, what it looks like, how it can affect the leather being engraved, and which processes result in what kind of styles, here comes the article that I will explain 6 common leather engraving techniques. With some practice, you could even do it yourself at home.


Leather embossing on natural vegetable tanned leather

Laser engraving and stamp embossing are the two main ways we applied to almost all our personalized items. Embossing is an easy way to decorate leather by using a heavy steel plate or a rolling wheel which will not break the surface. An ordinary, heavy hammer or mallet, metal stamps which could buy online or local stores will be enough to initiate leather engraving, so it's popular among leatherwork beginners.

To start press leather embossing, you need to:

1) prepare the unpolished leathers - best choice is vegetable tanned leather for engraving.

2) Find sturdy metal molds or stamps you like and decide the place where you want to imprint them.

3) Use a wet sponge to moisten the leather. Don't get it too wet. If the leather color changes, wait till the leather dry a little bit.

4) Smooth the leather surface and the front leather should be on top, you can use clamps to fasten it.

5) Place the cylinder tool in the center of the metal mold or stamp, tighten it as far as possible. Then put the stamp side on the spot you want imprint the pattern, use the mallet strike the other end of the cylinder heavily. The heavier you hit, the clearer the embossing pattern on the leather.

Also, you can buy a press machine which is very useful and convenient. In case you have a special press and heating device, you can make your designs more luxury with the help of gold or silver foil, which will be placed between the leather and the stamp.

Gold foil embossed leather


Leather carving patterns on vegetable tanned leather

Leather carving is art. Just like wood carving, leather can be carved with many complex and gorgeous patterns. For the material, the best choice is the natural vegetable tanned leather since light color leather is easier to carve than dark color leather and the patterns is more visible.

For beginners, choose some simple patterns to practice at first. To carve leather, use a wet sponge to moist both sides of the leather firstly. When the material is returning to its original color, slightly wet and soft, it's ready to work with.

After that, use a pencil to draw a pattern onto tracing paper and transfer the pattern into the leather with a stylus, then immediately carving each line into the leather with a swivel knife. Chisels, scrapers, stamps, and various tools will be applied to carve your design on the leather.

Leather carving is a time-consuming work. If the leather piece is to dry, dampen it again before you get back to your work.

Laser Engraving

Laser engraving on dark brown leather

To do laser engraving, we exactly need a special laser machine. Laser machines use compressed carbon dioxide to produce a high-power light. The laser beam etches designs on leather by cleanly burning through its surface. With powerful and specialized laser machine, complicated and exquisite designs can be imprinted on leather quickly. But it's very expansive unless you want to start a business about this.

Moreover, laser engraving can also apply to the following types of leather:

  • Full grain leather
  • Top grain leather
  • Genuine or corrected leather
  • Bonded leather

Perforating. With the help of holes of various shapes and sizes on the leather, you can create original patterns. For perforation, you will need punches - when using an awl, you will not be able to make a smooth hole.

Weaving. From leather strips, you can weave a bracelet, a string for a pendant or a belt. And if combined with perforation, you will get a bag or purse. You can cut the leather into strips manually, using a cord cutter or buy a ready-made cord.

Pyrography. The drawing is done by using an electric scorcher or a heated stamp. In production conditions, laser burning is used - it allows you to achieve greater accuracy and detail. There are also portable laser engravers that can be used at home, but it's expensive.

Personalization Suggestions

Your personalized design gives your leather crafts a nice touch and wonderful meaning, personalized items show that you've thought about your loved one. If you have picked up your DIY Leather Project, but not decided yet what to engrave, look these suggestions below.

  • Engrave initials/name of your own or beloved one.
  • Engrave a special date.
  • Engrave a simple image, pattern. You can literally design one by your own.
  • Add your life motto.
  • Engrave a quote about success and fortune.
  • Engrave moralities that you most appreciate.
Have you had a personalized design idea on your mind? Check the product category which support customized design on POPSEWING, make your own bag at home. Have fun, take your time, enjoy sewing these bag kits yourself.

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