The leather edge beveler is an essential tool when crafting leather goods. It helps make the corners look smooth, even, and is so easy to use.
A leather edge beveler is a tool with a sharp, metal blade that is used to remove the square corners from the edges of leather goods. Leather bevelers can have rounded, angled, or straight blades, each providing a different finished look for the leather. They can be hand-held, or machines.
Of the few basic tools that are helpful to great leatherworking, leather edgers are among the most useful. Let’s explore more about what to look for and which one might help best.
What is a Leather Edge Beveler
Leather edge bevelers are also referred to as leather edgers and leather bevelers. They are tools used to shave the square edges off of leather. This is both for functional and aesthetic purposes. Functionally, it removes the sharper square edges and leaves a more rounded edge to the leather. This makes it less likely to catch on other items during daily use. The rounded edges are also more comfortable on items that are handled frequently such as belts and wallets.
Aesthetically, the rounded edges on leather are generally more pleasing to the eye. They soften the look and also make it easier to seal the edges when they are burnished or edge-painted, or otherwise finished.
Edgers and burnishers come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. For example, they can have curved blades, v-shaped blades, and custom shapes too. Leather edge bevelers are usually made with metal blades/tips attached to a wooden handle. One thing to keep in mind is that not all edgers are sized in the same way. A particular size from one brand or manufacturer might not match that from another manufacturer.
Similar to clothes, it’s best to try out the ones you’d like, and ensure the sizing meets your needs. In general, it is important to keep the edges sharp to ensure smooth, clean cuts. Here’s a video demonstrating them in use, in a few different sizes:
When to Use a Leather Edge Beveler
Generally, a leather edge beveler is used when crafting leather goods. It can be utilized after cutting leather, and before finishing it. For example, when making a belt, a strip of leather for the belt will first be cut from a larger piece of leather.
This will leave a long strip of leather with “square”, 90-degree edges. At this point, a beveler can be used to “soften” those corners, making them rounded. At this point, the other elements of the belt can be added and the dyes or finishes applied.
If one if making a wallet, the beveler would be used after cutting out the wallet shapes, and before sewing. After beveling, the edges can be further finished, such as with beeswax, burnishing, or edge paint.
Types of Leather Edge Bevelers
Let’s take at look at some of the more common types of leather bevelers.
Bisonnette Leather Edge Beveler
The bisonnette edge beveler is a beveling tool that has a rounded cutting hole towards the tip. While most edgers have a uni-directional cutting edge that needs to be pushed away from the body to make a cut, this one can be either pushed or pulled due to the circular cutting hole.
Thus, there is flexibility in how the leather is oriented when working with this tool, and which hand the tool is used in. This makes it a convenient option for edging. They come in various sizes, so preference on edger operation, and cutting size will help determine if this works well for you.
Common Leather Edge Beveler
The common edge beveler is, well, the most common beveler type. It features a v-shaped blade with a rounded center, perfect for taking the edges off of leather pieces. These are a standard leather working tool, and work great across so many projects.
Available sizes vary greatly, as well as qualities and handle materials. Also, the feel between manufacturers can vary too, so it’s important to try different ones out while determining which feels best to you.
Important, too, to remember is that the blades come in different sizes. Common are size 1, 2 ,3, etc. Different manufacturers size blades differently, so a size 1 from one manufacturer might be larger or smaller than a size 1 from another manufacturer. So as you work more with these tools, test them on scrap leather before using them on any finer pieces, to help ensure the sizing is right for your preference and project.
Leather Push Beader
The push header is a more specialized tool used mainly in leather carving and decorative leather working. Their primary function is to imprint in the leather two parallel lines with a rounded “bead” that runs down the middle of them. This can be aesthetically pleasing based on preference and the project style being worked on.
They can usually be either pushed or pulled. If you’re looking to add some visual appeal to your projects, the push beader might be a helpful leather working tool addition. Here’s a demonstration of push beader use:
French Leather Edge Beveler
French edge bevelers feature a more square-shaped scoop edge. A variation on the more common rounded bevelers, they can be used for some edging work, though also work well for gouging or skiving. Generally they are universal and can be used either right-handed or left-handed.
These bevelers are good options when looking for straighter edge cuts, or to shave down/remove material. Getting used to the pressure needed when working with them can be helpful, as more pressure can remove more material when working it over the leather. Here’s what they look like and how they work:
Leather Wheel Beveler
Wheel bevelers are used to efficiently bevel patterns into the leather. They have a rotating metal wheel on the end of a wooden handle. The wheel is generally imprinted with a pattern or design that then rolls into the leather when pushed or pulled.
The wheel element makes it easy to consistently add patterns to long lengths of leather. This helps ensure uniformity, in comparison to stamps, which require more precise, repeated positioning. Wheel bevelers can be a handy tools that make beveling decorative patterns much easier.
Leather Round Edger
These edgers are a type of general leather edger, great for both straight and curved cutting. When using v-shaped edgers, the edger marks are sometimes visible when using the common bevelers. Round edgers feature a rounded blade that helps achieve smooth, round edges, without leaving edger lines/marks.
This makes it much easier to achieve smooth corners on pieces, which also makes it more fun 🙂 A round is a nice tool to have when working on finer projects or softer leathers.
Leather Strap Edger Tabletop Edge Beveler Machine
For those working with high volume leather production, it can be helpful to have a machine that makes the process faster, easier, and more consistent. The tabletop strap edger works similar to other edgers, though it gives more consistent results.
The tabletop edger has two sets of blades that each edge an opposite of a leather strap. The blades are set, and strap pulled through as they edge. Since it’s a fixed machine with fixed blades, the edge will be even on both sides, and along the length of the edged strap or belt.
With manual edgers it’s important to be as steady as possible when using them, as variations in the manual pressure can lead to slightly higher or deeper edges along the leather piece.
Edge beveler machines are really helpful if you’re doing a higher volume work and seek consistent edging results in an efficient, slightly more automated way. Here’s one in action, so easy to use!
How do You use a Leather Edger?
A leather edger is used, most often, by holding it in the hand, lining it up with the edge of a leather piece, and gently pushing it forward (away from the body), shaving off the corner of the leather as it goes.
Harder or softer pressure o the tool can alter how much leather it removes, and how deep it cuts into the leather edge. With some practice, it becomes a simple, quick, fast, and great way to smoothen out leather edges.
How do You Bevel Leather Edges?
Leather edges are beveled using a leather edge beveler tool. To use a beveler on leather, choose the type of tool based on the look you’d like on the finished edge (rounded, v-shaped, flat, or custom).
Then, line the beveler up on the edge of the leather to be cut, and slowly push forward along the edge. The edge leather will be removed by the beveler blade, leaving a smooth, consistent, and in most cases (especially with practice 🙂 ) a great looking leather edge.
How Do You Sharpen a Leather Edger?
Leather edgers can be sharpened by running them over a small length of leather lacing, or rope, with jeweler’s rouge applied. For example, glue some leather lacing, or nylon rope (that is the approximate width of the beveling edge), onto a hard surface. This will make it straight and fixed in position.
Next, rub jeweler’s rouge onto the lacing or rope. This gives a straight surface over with the beveler can be run. Next, run the beveler over the lacing or nylon, each pass helping to sharpen the edger blades.
For v-shaped blades, more common blade sharpeners can be used if the sizing and angles make it possible to effectively reach the cutting surface. These can include more common sharpeners, such as knife sharpeners. Here’s a helpful video demonstrating how to sharpen edgers:
What are Leather Beveler Stamps?
Leather beveler stamps are metal tools that are used to push 3-dimensional patterns into the surface of the leather. Generally, they’re places on the leather and struck with a mallet or maul to provide the force to imprint the stamp pattern into the leather.
Popular Edge Beveler Brands
Edge bevelers come in many sizes and shapes, can be custom made, or purchased. Some of the more popular brands include the keen edge beveler, owden edge beveler, craftool pro edger, and the weaver edge beveler.
Bevelers are one of the easiest ways to make a huge visual impact/improvement on the leather goods. They’re also fun to use, and over time, become a trusty, go-to tool for many great projects. For an article on my favorite edgers, click here.
What is leather edge paint?
Leather edge paint is a pigmented substance applied to the edge of leather goods. They both act to seal in the leather edges, protecting them, and also provide an aesthetically pleasing look. Leather edges can be painted in virtually any color.
How do you finish leather edges?
After beveling or edging, leather edges can be finished in a few ways. The include burnishing, to smooth and seal the edges. They can be finished with beeswax. They can also be finished with edge paint, offering both protection and color.