Leather is a long-lasting, timeless material that has been a favorite choice for crafting various items throughout centuries. Its natural durability and forgiveness lend well to being manipulated and engraved with a variety of styles of designs and details.
Leather engraving is an art that has been around and passed down from century to century. Nothing is more beautiful than the designs, simple and intricate, that can be etched into the leather’s surface. They can be something such as a classic monogram letter or a design with intricate details.
When purchasing a leather product, whether it is for yourself or as a gift, personalizing the item and making it uniquely yours makes it all that much more special. For this reason, there are those companies that offer the buyer the choice of some form of personalization.
What is Leather Engraving?
Leather engraving is a process used to either personalize or create a decorative appearance on a leather-based product. The process involves designs permanently etched into the surface of the leather piece.
This etching is achieved by using specialized tools, which either cut or stamp the design into the leather’s surface. This type of application achieves a result that is permanent and beautiful.
There are various methods for engraving on leather. These techniques include hand engraving, laser engraving, and even using a Dremel tool, resulting in the leather taking on numerous appearances depending on the method used to engrave the material.
Popular Types of Leather Items that Can be Engraved
Leather Engraving Tools
The most common leather engraving tool, for use when hand engraving, is a hardened tool made from steel called a burin, or a graver. The burin is used to hand-cut the design into the surface of the leather.
This tool is the most common item used by those who do their own leather engraving. Although the process is a little more time consuming, the results are just as pleasing. Like everything, there is a learning curve for hand engraving leather, and as such, your most important tools are those of both time and patience.
If any holes are needed in the leather piece, they are achieved using a leather punch or chisel, along with a leather mallet. A leather punch uses the same principle as a paper punch in that it is a hand held tool that punches a hole. The alternative is a specialized chisel tool that is placed against the material and tapped forcefully with a leather mallet until the desired hole is formed.
For decorative designs, there are a variety of tools on the market that may be used. Each will require being placed against the leather piece and tamped with the leather mallet multiple times until achieving the desired impression depth. A note here, if you wet the leather before stamping it, the depth of the impression will be greater due to the pliability of the wet surface.
Leather engraving is an art that has been around and passed down from century to century.
Leather Engraving Kit
A leather engraving kit will provide all the necessary tools needed for leather engraving. Although there are kits with upwards of 400 pieces, you will just need a few necessary leather engraving items.
A basic leather engraving kit typically contains everything a beginner, or someone who sees leather engraving as a hobby, will initially need. These items generally include but are not necessarily limited to, a leather punch, an awl, a burin, a leather mallet, and a few stamping tools.
If you intend to do various leather engraving projects, you are better served to buy one of the larger leather engraving kits containing the essential tools, along with a mat, stain, string, daubers, and other specialized items used for both engraving and finishing your leather piece.
Watch this Leather craftsman engrave a unique design in his leather knife holder.
Custom Leather Engraving
For those that find they need a large number of items engraved or just do not want to invest in the time and materials required to perform the engraving themselves, there is the option to have the leather engraving custom made.
This option is also great if the image needing to be engraved is significantly more detailed or intricate. By having the leather engraved by an engraving professional, you will not have to worry about making any mistakes or the possibility of wasting both leather and time.
Laser Leather Engraving
If the leather engraving you need is somewhat intricate or detailed, laser leather engraving may be a more efficient choice.
As indicated, the process is done by way of a specially designed laser cutting the design into the leather’s surface. The engraving laser can offer a more precise and pinpointed style of engraving than can be achieved by hand engraving or with a Dremel tool.
The added advantage is that there is little to no need for any touching up or refinishing once the process is complete, resulting in a perfect, professional product that is perfect when it comes off the machine.
Here is a DIY video on how to make your own Leather Stamps
How to Engrave Leather with a Dremel
When using a Dremel tool for leather engraving, a few steps need to be followed for the best results:
- You will need to begin with transferring your choice of design, or a sketch, to the surface of the leather. This transference can be achieved through heat transfer or the use of a pencil or an awl.
- Now, you will attach the thinner engraving point to your Dremel tool. It is better to start with the narrower attachment until the initial marks are in the leather.
- Once the thinner lines are in place, you now go back over them, widening them. The widening is done with the same narrower attachment by repeatedly retracing the lines several times until you have the effect you are looking wanting.
This engraving technique works well on both finished and unfinished leather. And again, by wetting the leather surface first, the material is more pliable and acceptable of the engraving.
Here is a video on how to engrave with a Dremel Stylo
How to Engrave Leather with a Cricut Machine
It is possible to cut leather with a Cricut, however, you will need some specific tools. These tools included a strong grip mat, a deep point blade, and a brayer.
- Next, you will need to create your design in your Cricut’s design space.
- When working with leather, you will need to make sure to place the smooth side of the material against the cutting mat. Use the bray to roll the leather down to make sure it is stuck securely in place.
- You will also need to make sure to set your images to mirror-setting before you begin cutting.
- Set your material settings to leather.
- Insert your deep cut blade, and push your rollers two to each side.
- Load the cutting mat and press start.
Where to Buy Engraved Leather Items
Leather Engraving on Etsy
Etsy is the premier online source for all things handmade. Shop leather engraved products and choose from a variety of unique items for every occasion and every day.
Leather Engraving at Things Remembered
At Things Remembered, you will find gifts for everyone on your list that they will adore and at prices, you will love. Things Remembered can engrave any working or sentiment you need on leather items of your choice.
When you find that you need a unique gift, a leather engraved piece is a perfect choice. You have the option of doing the engraving yourself or having a custom piece done by a professional. For information on the leather technique of lacing, click here for my guide to lacing leather. For tips on leather coloring, click here for my guide to leather spray paint.
Is leather engraving easy to learn?
Leather engraving is an art, but one that anyone can learn. Like most other artistic expression forms, there is a learning curve, but the possibilities are endless once you get the technique down.
Do leather engraved items last a long time?
The leather material can last many decades if properly cared for, and since the engraving is carved into the surface of the leather, it will last several decades.