How to engrave leather
Personalizing leather with custom lettering, engraving, designs, lines, edges, borders, colors and other types of treatments is quite popular for items such as belts, boots and jackets
Engrave on leather is similar to embossing; you’ll use many of the same tools and, in fact, the stamps are often very similar — they’re just designed to cut more than push. So how to engrave leather read this guide to find out how to engrave leather by hand
How to engrave leather by hand
Again, start with a sturdy work surface, two to four C-clamps, metal engraving stamps, cylinder tool, wooden mallet, a bevel tool, and the leather you wish to engrave.
Select a top grain leather appropriate to your project. Tooling is done on the smooth face of the leather. Cut your leather to the size and shape you want using leather shears.
Wipe down the area of the leather you plan to engrave with a damp sponge. As is true of embossing, the water will soften the leather, but be careful not to soak the leather too much as it will take longer to dry.
Clamp down your leather to a flat, sturdy surface using the C-clamps.
Place your pattern paper side down over the leather. Position your pattern so that it fits the leather and trace your design onto the leather. Remove the papers.
Punch holes using a leather punch or chisel. Use a leather mallet to strike the chisels or tools as metal hammers will drive the chisel too hard.
This will take some practice to determine how much pressure to apply. Repeat to create the pattern or letters you’d like to engrave.
Striking the engraving stamp will cut the leather. You can leave the engraving here with the edges cut into the leather, or continue with the next step for a more interesting look.
One benefit to engraving on leather is creating a raised look to your pattern, shape, or letters. After create the shape, take a bevel tool and work around the edges of the lines created.
This will angle into the cuts and lift the edges, giving the engraving a raised finish.
If you started with unfinished leather, add a stain to complete the process.
How to engrave leather using engraving tools
Place the tool along the line you wish to indent. Hold the tool level to the leather and tamp the end with a leather mallet. Tooling leather is a skill that develops with practice, you do not want to strike too deep and leave small cuts and you do not want to strike too shallow and have some of the pattern on the metal engraving tool not show up on the leather.
Keep your leather moist while you work by adding water with a sponge. You will soon have a feel for how much is the right consistency to produce the engraved look you want. Use various stamps and shapes to form your designs. Use a stylus to draw lines.
Rub your work smooth with a leather burnisher when you are finished. These are metal or wood tools with smooth edges that allow you to rub (as if polishing) along areas to smooth out the look. Burnishing helps engraved work last longer.
Apply dyes, colors, treatments and finishes once you are certain that all tooling is finished.