There are lots of reasons why we might want to join pieces of leather together using leather glue or leather adhesive. They’re effective, work quickly, and can be key to a successful project.
The best leather glue is the Tandy Leather Eco-Flo Leather Weld adhesive. It is water-based, low V.O.C., and relatively strong for most applications. The best leather cement is Barge All-Purpose Cement. It is waterproof, dries quickly, and will essentially bond leather together permanently.
The choice in what leather glue or adhesive to use will mainly depend on what you’re planning to glue, how strong the bond needs to be, if it will be sewn, and what the preferred application method is. If you’re ready to start your project, click here for my list of glue suggestions. For a detailed guide, let’s explore more below.
What is Leather Glue?
Leather glue is an adhesive used to bond pieces of leather together. The bond might be temporary, for example, to hold leather pieces together before sewing them. The bond might also be permanent, intended to join pieces of leather together indefinitely as part of a finished piece.
When we refer to leather glue, it can mean one of several different types. It’s key to understand what the different types are, so you’ll be able to choose the one that is most appropriate for the particular leather project you’re working on. Let’s learn more about each.
What Can Leather Glue be Used On?
Leather glues and adhesives can be used on a variety of leather goods including jackets, bags, pouches, purses, belts, wallets, pants, hats, gloves, sofas, upholstery, boots, and shoes. Literally any leather can be glued. It’s important to choose the right glue for your project. This helps ensure that the bond will be secure and the finished leather good look great once the glue is dry.
Types of Leather Glues and Adhesives
Multipurpose glues such as Super Glue and Gorilla Glue can work, though usually as a backup option to those intended purposely for leather.
Leather glues, such as Tandy’s Eco-Flo Leather Weld adhesive and Aleene’s Leather & Suede glue are leather-specific glues. They are white, and dry clear. This makes them useful across a variety of leather colors and finishes. They’re flexible as well, making them suitable for leather items that are worn as clothing.
“This is unlike leather craft cement, which requires even application to both surfaces that will be joined…”
These work well for most general leather craft projects and repairs, with overall good strength and durability. Leather glue can usually be applied to one surface that’s then pressed into the other it will be glued to. Leather joined with leather glue will not pull apart easily. This is unlike leather craft cement, which requires even application to both surfaces that will be joined, and will often form a permanent bond that is unable to be pulled apart.
Contact cement is a type of adhesive with a very, very strong bond. Usually, they are used to join material permanently. For example, when looking to glue leather without having to sew it after, leather craft cement alone will be the choice.
Often, after it is dry, if one tries to pull apart leather that is bonded with leather craft cement, the leather fibers will tear before the glue separates. It’s really strong. One very important key to using leathercraft cement, or any contact cement, is that it needs to be applied to BOTH surfaces that will be joined. An even application of cement will help ensure a smooth adhesion.
Super Glue/Gorilla Glue, etc.
These are quality glues that often come in special formulations for different needs. When considering the most common general formulas, they can certainly be somewhat effective when joining leather. If you’re in a pinch, and on’t have anything else, these can work.
However, they might not be as flexible, or long-lasting as leather glue. If you’re looking to put a patch or something onto leather these will likely work ok. Though if you’re working on a finer leather piece, will see the glue after it dries, or want it to be flexible and last a long time, look for leather glue.
There are many craft glues available. Generally, when used on leather, they apply a very light hold. While that might seem bad at first, it can be a great asset when looking to sew leather. Craft glue such as Elmer’s can be applied to the leather to hold it in place. It will dry relatively quickly, be tacky, and provide enough hold that the material shouldn’t shift when moving through the sewing machine. If needed, the piece can often be pulled apart.
So while not a go-to for all leather glue projects, if you’re looking for temporary hold for a sewing project, craft glue might be helpful. Otherwise, aim for a leather glue, or contact cement.
Most types of glue can be used on leather, however, their effectiveness will vary greatly. Generally, glues and adhesives specifically intended for leather will work best. They account for the unique properties of leather including the natural fiber-surfaces, and porous nature of then material. Quality contact cements also work great.
Here’s a hepful video walking through some popular types of leather glues and tests how effective each one is:
What is the Best Glue to Use on Leather?
The best leather glue or adhesive to use depends on the type of project you’re working on. Let’s look at a few of the best based on need. Also keep in mind, when using glue to hold leather in place prior to sewing, thinner/lighter glues are usually better. They won’t adhere to and jam the sewing needle as easily as often as heavier contact cements might.
If you’ll be sewing often, click here for my article on leather sewing machines. It can be helpful to know what your machine’s strength is when determining what glue is best.
Helpful Leather Glues to Start With
Here is an easy-reference table with paid links to items that I trust – these are great glues to start with.
Best Glue for Synthetic Leather
- E6000 237032 Craft Adhesive – this glue is a multi-purpose, industrial strength adhesive that is waterproof. It also dries flexible and clear. When working with faux leathers (that are often plastic-based), this is a great option.
Best Glue for Natural Leather – Medium Hold
- Tandy Leather Eco-Flo Leathercraft Glue – This is a water-based, low V.O.C. glue that is flexible and dries clear. Its consistency is like most craft glues, and relatively easy to work with. This is a good choice to hold leather in place for stitching.
- Fiebing’s Leathercraft Cement – This is a water-based adhesive that is white in color and dries clear and flexible. Although it has “cement” in the name, it performs more like a glue than a contact cement. This is a good choice to hold leather in place for stitching.
- Aleene’s Leather & Suede Glue – this is a craft-grade glue that is intended for leather. It, like the others, dries clear and is flexible. This is a workable choice to hold leather in place for stitching.
If you’d like to see more about how to use these glues on a project, click here to read my article about how to glue leather.
Best Glue for Natural Leather – Strong Hold
- Barge All Purpose Cement – This is a professional-strength contact cement, and likely the best overall glue for permanent adhesion of leather. It is flexible and waterproof.
- Petronio’s Master All-Purpose Cement – This is also a professional-strength contact cement, often used in show repair. While general preference is for Barge, the Master cement is right up there along with it, working great for permanent adhesion of leather. It is also flexible and waterproof.
- Tandy Leather Eco-Flo Leather Weld – This is a leather-specific, and generally strong adhesive glue. It can be used for most leather projects, and dries flexible and clear. This is also an eco-friendly option. It does not provide as strong a bond as contact cement, though contact cement is best used for applications that require extremely strong adhesion that will tear leather before the cement pulls apart. For many general-purpose applications the Leather Weld works well.
“Though, the Barge or Master contact cements are usually preferred for their quality, strength, and results.”
- Tanners Bond Contact Cement – This is another adhesive made by Tandy. It provides solid hold and the properties of a contact cement (permanent bond, water resistant, flexible). Though, the Barge or Master contact cements are usually preferred for their quality, strength, and results.
- Neoweld Contact Cement – This is a non-flammable contact cement that dries fast and allows for a relatively long work time. Unlike other contact cements, this one generally only needs to be applied to one of the two material surfaces being joined. While fast drying formulas can be helpful, sometimes we’re looking to reposition a piece before it dries. It’s not as strong as Barge or Master, though a good option if your application requires good adhesion with a longer working time.
- Springfield Leather Company Ever-Tack Contact Cement – This is a water-based, quick-drying, contact cement. It has a relatively quick working time, and dries clear and flexible. Another option in the mix, if you’re looking for something that is eco-friendly and provides good hold, this is certainly an option.
- Loctite Liquid Professional Super Glue – This is a standard super glue. It is dries fast (seconds), is very strong, heat and cold resistant (once dried), water-resistant, though not flexible. For a quick fix it can work, though there are better glues available for leather.
- Gorilla Super Glue Gel – This is a fast-drying (seconds), strong glue with a gel consistency. The gel allows for more even application of the glue without it running. The dried gel adhesive is water resistant, though not flexible. Similar to other super glues, this definitely can work well for a quick fix, though there are better glues available for leather where flexibility and a nice-finished look are priorities.
- Elmer’s Glue-All Multi-Purpose Liquid Glue – This is a classic glue we’re likely all familiar with. It provides very light hold and is not recommended for any strong or long term leather wear use. However, due to it’s light hold, it can be used to test positioning of pieces, and hold them in place for sewing. Even then, leather-specific glues such as Tandy’s Leather Eco-Flo Leathercraft glue will do a better job here. Though if you’re in a pinch and have some elmer’s around, it can be worth a try.
Applying Contact Cement to Leather
Common Leather Glue and Adhesive Questions
Is Gorilla Glue Good for Leather?
Generally, gorilla glue is not great for use on leather. Some versions (such as the Gorilla super glue) can work in a pinch for very minor repairs that don’t need to be flexible. However, the Gorilla glue that expands could lead to results where there is space between the joined pieces, which is likely highly desirable in a finished piece. Can it be used if nothing else is available, sure, though there are far better glues for leather applications.
Is There Special Glue for Leather?
Yes, there are glues and adhesives made specifically for use on leather. Since leather is a natural material and has pores in it’s surface, having the right glue with the right hold and flexibility is important for a quality and lasting result. There are a few great glues on the market made especially for leather use.
Does Fabric Glue Work on Leather?
Fabric glue doesn’t really bond leather well. It can certainly be used if looking to temporarily hold leather in place, for example while sewing. However if you’re looking to glue patches to a leather jacket or glue two pieces of leather together, glues made specifically for leather will provide far better results.
Can I Use Elmer’s Glue on Leather?
Elmer’s glue, while hugely popular and something we likely all have around the house, does not work very well on leather. It has a generally light hold and while it can temporarily hold things to leather and leather pieces together, it won’t really last or be water resistant. Leather-specific glues will perform far better and last much longer.
Can You Use PVA Glue for Leather?
PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue can be used on leather, though generally won’t provide strong adhesion. A common form of PVA glue is the white Elmer’s glue. While it can hold leather pieces in place, say for light sewing, it won’t provide very strong hold for a long time. It’s easily removable. For leather working, leather-specific glues will be much more effective.
Can You Put Superglue on Leather?
Superglue works on leather mainly only for quick fixes on small areas. While it will bond the material, it might not provide the most pleasing look on the natural fibers, while also drying hard and not flexible. Generally, leather glue should be strong and flexible. So if you need to fix something in a pinch, it can work, though if you want to repair something for the long-term, a leather-specific glue or adhesive is the way to go.
What Glue do Cobblers Use?
Cobblers use a variety of glues depending on the part of the shoe they’re fixing. In general flexible types of super glues made specifically for shoes include Boot-Fix Shoe Glue, Shoe-Fix Shoe Glue, and Cobblers Quick Bonding Adhesive Super Glue.
Those used that are more like contact cements include Shoe GOO Adhesive, Angelus Shoe Contact Cement All Purpose Glue, Gear Aid Aquaseal SR Shoe and Boot Repair Adhesive, and E6000 craft adhesive.
Can You Use Contact Cement on Leather?
Absolutely, contact cement, especially those formulated for use on leather, are highly recommended and very effective. They’re able to bone the porous material of leather, while also being flexible and water-resistant. When looking for a sturdy, permanent bond on leather, contact cement is a great choice.
Does Epoxy Work on Leather?
Epoxy is usually not recommended for use on leather. They work best for application on hard materials, such as metal and ceramics. Epoxy is usually very rigid and not flexible when it’s dried. Leather goods usually do best with a glue or contact cement that dries clear and is flexible.
So now you have a good idea about what leather glues and adhesives are out there and which works best for the type of project you’re working. The result is important, the right glue can help make a finished leather good look absolutely amazing. For glue suggestions based on specific application/project type, click here for my list of recommended glues.
What is the best glue to use on leather?
The best glue to use on leather, for general fixes and bonding, is Tandy Leather Eco-Flo Leather Weld adhesive. while not as strong as some contact cements, it is eco-friendly, dries clear and flexible, and works for most day-to-day project needs.
Does Super Glue Work on Suede?
Yes, super glue technically does work on suede, though it is not recommended. The finish might look rough and it will dry hard and not be flexible. A more effective glue would be one designed for suede, such as Aleene’s Leather & Suede Glue.