How to Engrave Leather by Hand | Carve It in Your Own Style
Oh, wait! Why do you even need to know how to engrave leather by hand?
That’s a very understandable question to have. Let me answer this for you.
Who doesn’t love showing off some fancy leather accessories? Things get even better if your leather has been adorned by some splendidly done engraving. It basically adds more value to your already valuable leather items.
Leather is a unique material with lots of distinctiveness that other materials can’t just match. It’s durable, convenient to use and most importantly It looks naturally great. What gives the leather some extra points is its adaptability to form into all manner of objects.
The leather on its own looks absolutely gorgeous. However, a bit of craftsmanship can make it even look better than the usual. That’s where leather engraving comes in.
Leather engraving is a process in which designs are placed into the surface of a piece of leather. It has plenty of variations. Once engraved, different looks come out of leather with the help of different techniques.
That’s what makes leather engraving so fascinating.
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How to Engrave Leather by Hand
Before we give you instructions on how to engrave leather by hand there are few things that you need to have. You need to use these things or materials as resources in your process of engraving leather.
- Top-grain leather
- Leather shears
- Engraving tools
- Leather burnisher
- Hole punches
- Carbon paper, etc.
Now let us break down the whole engraving process step-by-step and hands-on.
The leather selection
Choose a top-grain leather that would fit best for your desired project. Carving has to be done on the smooth side of the leather. You need to be choosey if you want your leather to look absolutely top-notch.
Time to play with scissors
Not scissors actually! You need to use leather shears to cut the leather into the desired size and shape. Tooling the leather might cause some expansion or spread of the leather. In addition, most of the times people tool the leather when it’s wet. So, the leather will shrink when it dries. You must keep these two things in mind.
A pro-tip would be to use a sample size drawn in scrape paper so that you can check every now and then while tooling the leather.
Lay your leather
Place your leather on a flat surface. Position the carbon paper side down over the leather. Use something pencil or pen a-like to position your intended design on the smoother surface of leather. Then slowly and steadily remove the carbon paper.
Punching holes through your leather
You might try a chisel to punch holes through the leather. But our suggestion would be not to punch a hole if holes are not required that much for your design.
Oops! Forgot to tell you one thing. Do not use metal hammers to strike the chisel as that would end up pushing the chisel too hard. Using a leather mallet would be much much safer.
Bathe your leather
Soak, I mean drench your leather for up to 30 minutes. Make sure to pull the leather out of the water before it becomes way too pudgy.
If you still somehow manage to over-water your leather, don’t leave the scene before drying it to the soft texture. Only then you can use the leather for tooling.
Then … Engrave
Now comes the main scene of the movie. But this is not easy.
Place the engraving tool along the line you want to make a dent. Hold it at the same level as the leather, use a leather mallet to tamp the ends of the leather.
As we’ve already said tooling or engraving leather is not an easy job at all. I think it’s fair to say that this job is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, with the right mixture of practice and dedication, one can pull it off.
This is a skill that develops with regular practice. You neither want to strike too deep to make small cuts nor to strike too shallow to have some of the patterns not show up. So, as you can understand, it is pretty much complicated.
Use a swivel knife
We haven’t talked about swivel knife yet, have we? Gather a swivel knife and hone it properly. This is a specialized blade that turns in your fingers.
Hold the knife vertical, then carve over the design patterns. Remember to go no deeper than half the depth of the leather.
The final project
Then comes the final process of selecting stamps and finishing your project.
Use your mallet to tap repeatedly with your stamps according to the patterns of your design. Remember that the stamp is not a nail, neither mallets are hammers. So, go slow with them. The final work should have a three-dimensional shape in it.
The finishing touch
These are just some finishing touches.
Keep your leather properly hydrated. Use a sponge to brush water. After a few rounds, you’d know how much moist the leather requires to be.
Try using a stylus to draw lines while designing the patterns. Finally, rub your finished project with some leather burnisher. Burnishing will help your engraved leather last longer.
No matter whether you are looking to enrich your knowledge about engraving leather or you’re going to do the work done all by yourself, our step-by-step guide should help you.
It is not easy to learn how to engrave leather by hand at once. It has its advantages, disadvantages as well as hazardous consequences. Hence, one needs to be careful about engraving leather all by his or her pair of hands.
However, if done accurately with the maximum level of precision, your hands can produce marvelous pieces of engraving designs on your leather clothing, jewelry or accessories. You just have to be patient and have the will to learn.
So, that was pretty much all about our hand-on guide on how to use your hands to engrave leather. I hope you’ve liked it and will follow when you have to be in the action yourself. Till then have fun and practice away this wonderful art of engraving leather.