Leathercraft is a great skill to learn and allows you to create so many fun leather projects. However, what can separate an amateur product from one that looks ultra-professional?
Well to be honest, there are many tell-tale signs of an amateur leather crafter but taking time to finish your leather edges can completely transform the overall appearance of your final product.
There are many leather fans out there that do prefer the rugged and natural look of an unfinished leather, but personally, I always take the extra few minutes to give my products that extra bit of professionalism by finishing the edges.
The first step to finish your leather product is to bevel the edges.
When cutting your pattern out on leather, you typical end up with a hard 90 degree cut on the edges. This typically will be more pronounced when working with thicker leather.
This sharp angle will eventually smooth out over time during usage but why wait?
Leather bevelers come in several different sizes and will instantly smooth and round out your edges for a much cleaner look and feel. These bevelers are fairly inexpensive so there is really no excuse to skip this step.
You may want to practice beveling on a few scrap pieces of leather before tackling your final product but the process is simple enough. All you have to do is run the beveler down the edges of your leather as it shaves off the hard edges.
It’s a good practice to bevel all edges (front and back) for a more uniform appearance. This beveling process usually takes place before any color dying is done.
Beveling the edges of your leather is a great way to remove the hard edges from cutting your pattern, but your leather will still be left with a rough surface. The rough surface is just the natural grain texture of the leather, however, there is a quick and easy way to give your edges a super slick finish.
This technique is known as burnishing or slicking and can be accomplished without buying any additional tools or supplies. All you need is some water and a hard smooth object (i.e. Bic lighter or smooth plastic).
Simply wet the edges of your leather with water. Once the edges are moist, you can now take your smooth object and quickly rub it against the leather edges back and forth. Within a few seconds you will see your edges go from rough to very slick.
The burnishing process is usually done after dying your leather if you so choose to do. This would ensure that the coloration of your leather dye is evenly distributed and has a full coverage.
You can also purchase specific burnishing tools to help speed of your process of slicking your leather edges. A specific burnishing tool is beneficial but you can definitely make do without.
That’s pretty much all it takes to finish you leather edges!
From Amateur to Professional
As you can see, it doesn’t take much time or effort to finish off your leather edges. Finishing your edges can really take your leather work from amateur to professional, at least at first glance.
Now if you want to get even fancier, you can implement Gum Tragacanth instead of the use of water or even finish off the edges with Edge Kote. These products will enhance the looked of your finished edge.
Personally I do not find those products to be absolutely necessary but feel free to experiment yourself and find out what techniques you prefer.