View Full Version : Saddle Leather Coasters

Russ Hazlewood
04-18-2006, 12:29 AM
Check out the saddle leather coasters I made for my law firm using my Epilog 45W.


This is my first attempt at engraving leather. It worked much better than I'd hoped.

The leather is about as thick as the sole of a new dress shoe. The lighter coasters are unstained, but sealed with leather sheen. The darker coasters at the top are stained with british tan stain and sealed. The coaster at the front (out of focus) is unstained, but sealed. I engraved it as a negative of the others. The process makes it appear brown with a slight red tint, and the letters are raised. It looks pretty cool.

In vector cutting, the laser charred the edges of the coasters, but the finish seals it, and it looks like an edge dressing.

I plan to make these as gifts and for marketing my practice. I'm in the process of laying out a pattern for a leather coaster stand. Other ideas or tips would be welcome.

Lee DeRaud
04-18-2006, 1:16 AM
Those are cool. Where did you get the leather?

Russ Hazlewood
04-18-2006, 1:34 AM
I bought the leather from the local Tandy Leather store. I'd say its about 1/4" thick. I paid about $7-$8 per square foot. (You have to buy a whole piece - mine was about 13.5 square feet). I cut the leather to 12" X 24" sheets using a C&H mat cutter. The sheets are remarkably uniform, stiff, and flat.

I engraved the leather at 100% speed, 50% power. I cut it according to the EPILOG book specs (can't remember right now).

The engraving is easy -- staining the leather uniformly is more difficult.

The Tandy Store has lots of scrap leather for experimenting. (They charge a nominal amount for the scraps). I was displeased with my results from other types of leather.

I was just glad to make something that looked professional with my machine. The folks at the office are tired of hearing me talk about my laser infatuation.

Dave Fifield
04-18-2006, 5:38 AM
They look great Russ. Thanks for the idea - I think I'll find me some leather and try making some for the folks at my place of work.

Dave F.

Joe Pelonio
04-18-2006, 8:48 AM
Very nice job Russ, your design is classy too. When vector cutting don't you love that old west branding day smell?

Dave Jones
04-18-2006, 10:09 AM
Very nice. My laser should arrive next week, and I've been buying all sorts of materials to test out. I guess I need to get some saddle leather too. ;)

BTW, I saw a show on the Discovery channel last week about making leather and they had a guy with a strange looking micrometer/caliper that was checking each hide near the end of the process to make sure they had uniform thickness.

Daryl Barberousse
04-18-2006, 6:49 PM
staining the leather uniformly is more difficult.

Set the leather out in the direct sun.....this opens and heats up the pours. Apply a mixture of stain and neatsfoots oil. This allows your stain to absorb more evenly.

Pat Kearney
04-18-2006, 7:48 PM
Russ the coasters are very nice. When you mentioned charring on the edges was sealed by the sealer how well did it seal it. I tried leather one time that I got from a local leather shop here. The raster image turned out great but the vector cutting turned the edges to a black soot that not only smelled awful but made everything it touched turn black-including my hands.
Anyone have any suggestions to fix this?



Russ Hazlewood
04-19-2006, 3:38 AM
I doubt that soot can be avoided when cutting leather this thick. I invite any suggestions on the subject.

I cleaned off the soot on the first few coasters I made, using a toothbrush and water. After that, I decided that the leather sheen adequately sealed the soot. It looks like edge dressing. After applying a few coats of the product, I can drag the side across a white sheet of paper without leaving a mark. I'm thinking the side of a coaster will not be subject to excessive wear.

As a side note, several people at the office thought the coasters were made of wood.

Shaddy Dedmore
04-19-2006, 9:37 AM
I'll preface by saying I haven't done leather, but I have an Epilog and there's a vector setting called Frequency. I'd try reducing that (max of 5000, I'd try 200 or so). It might be called PPI in other laser models with different ranges. Having the laser beam spend less time in the area might reduce the heat build up and charring. It also might prevent you from cutting all the way through, so play with the settings :)


Daryl Barberousse
04-19-2006, 10:03 PM
I agree....turning down the freq to about 500 pulses cuts the leather just as well and leaves less residue. I find that results vary from one type of leather to another.

I'm currently cutting leather that is 6 ounces (3/32"). With my 35w epilog, I'm using 13% speed, 100% power, and 500 freq....pops it right outta there.

When I cut thicker leather, I utilize the vector option to score a line and then I cut completely thru the leather using a round knife. You only get a charred edge half way thru the thickness, but then I edge dress the edges to complete the project.

Hope this helps.......

Joe Pelonio
04-20-2006, 8:28 AM
Try applying transfer tape before vector cutting, then when done use a damp cloth with alcohol to remove any loose soot/ash from the edges, then rub with clear wax-type show polish. The black looks good, you just have to seal it off to prevent it getting on the customers' hands.

Tom Radachi
04-21-2006, 11:43 AM
Good looking coasters. I just got my laser a few weeks ago and have started experimenting with leather. Went to our local Tandy store and got some scrap. They charge by the pound. Also got a pack of leather key fobs. Rather than vectoring the leather, have you considered using Tandy's precut leather rounds? Just a thought...

Lee DeRaud
04-21-2006, 11:58 AM
Rather than vectoring the leather, have you considered using Tandy's precut leather rounds? Just a thought...
TomDepends on the design and quantity. If the design needs to be centered very accurately, registration of precut rounds is a total PITA without some sort of jig...which is its own source of hassle if you're only doing small quantities.

Also, how consistent is the thickness on those? If you're doing a bunch of them, will you be having to adjust the focus every other one?

Tom Radachi
04-21-2006, 12:05 PM
The rounds that I saw packaged looked very consistent in size and color. As far as engraving them, I'd just make a template in Corel and put each coaster top left against the ledgers of the table. Can only do one at a time, but seems feasable to me, but then again, I'm REAL new at all this stuff so I may be making a fool of myself with this post...

Patrick Cooley
04-21-2006, 1:59 PM
I did some leather luggage tags for a baseball team. Worked great. I ended up using my disk sander to take the char off the edges. Worked well.

Brent Brod
04-22-2006, 8:42 AM
I tried cutting leather, but the whole place smelled like I'd been branding calves. I found this place to buy 4" rounds that are consistent in size and thickness. The leather varies between the pieces, but if you are staining it you should be ok. I made a jig from some scrap panelling and just dropped them in the holes. I cut the holes too small, so I had some trouble getting them to lay flat. I'll redo the jig the next time I make coasters.


Russ Hazlewood
04-23-2006, 12:01 AM
I've had some trouble with the coasters curling when they get wet. They can be straightened out afterwards.

I'm going to experiment with better sealants or, if that doesnt' work, I'll try to glue thin aluminum rounds to the bottoms.

Any thoughts?

Dan Oelke
04-24-2006, 2:15 PM
Coasters are to protect the table top. Wouldn't the metal on the backside potentially scratch the table it is being put on? ? ? Just a question.

Shaddy Dedmore
05-01-2006, 3:31 PM
Sealer? I was wondering what a good sealer was to waterproof the leather coasters.


Lee DeRaud
05-01-2006, 5:42 PM
Sealer? I was wondering what a good sealer was to waterproof the leather coasters.When I lived in snow country, I used some kind of spray silicone stuff to waterproof boots and hiking shoes...
any good-sized sporting-goods or hunting/fishing store oughta have something similar.

Daryl Barberousse
05-01-2006, 11:50 PM
Here is the product I apply on some of my leatherwork.

Keith Outten
05-02-2006, 5:32 AM
I have been using Rawlings Glovolium, made to keep baseball glove leather soft and protected. Should be available at any sporting goods store.

Russ Hazlewood
05-29-2006, 2:56 AM
I tried Neatsfoot oil --it softened the leather such that my coasters would lay flat, but it tended to darken/discolor them. On the other hand, Lexol Leather Conditioner works great!


Tom Cullen
05-30-2006, 5:42 PM
The pre cut rounds mentioned are fine if you just want to practice with a few and they come in a few different amounts per package. The only issue here is that they are not all exactly the same in circumference and trying to center a graphic can be somewhat of a pain. Tandy also has wrist bands in various sizes that are a lot easier to work with , just make sure they are stored flat because once they start to curl it is a problem focusing on them.

Tim Laser-dude Worth
05-30-2006, 9:52 PM
Hey, I really like those coasters. I have tried several times to do some leather work for clients but it just doesn't look good. Are you interested in taking on some work. Like I said, my machines just don't do it very well and I have them pretty busy.

Send me an email if you are interested lazer.dude@yahoo.com