View Full Version : lasering leather

Mike Null
12-22-2006, 7:07 PM
Since we don't see much leather on this forum I thought I'd post a job I just finished today. A lady called and asked if I could make a plaque from cherry wood as a Christmas gift for her mother. I said I could but checked my wood supply and found I didn't have a 26x6 piece of cherry. I asked if she'd consider leather as I had that on hand. She would.

This is from a hide I bought several years ago and the frame is from some mahogany I had laying around. The leather was waxed with Johnson's before lasering.

Frank Corker
12-22-2006, 8:04 PM
Hey Mike, really nice work there. On the leather did you darken it with anything?

Karin Voorhis
12-22-2006, 9:42 PM
That is just a great piece. However I have to ask did it really stink???? I did somekind of leather no wax or anything and it came out great but the shop was nasty for ever. I do not mind acrylic or anything except that.......

Keith Outten
12-22-2006, 10:20 PM

Your leather project looks nice, is it glued to the face of the board?

I have engraved smal pieces of leather and had good luck so I purchased a couple large pieces for inventory just in case a job walked in the door. I haven't heard of using paste wax on the leather before engraving, is there a particular reason? Do you also wax the leather again after engraving?


Bill Cunningham
12-22-2006, 11:30 PM
I always get good results from leather.. I just laser it raw, and then spray a stuff called 'the tannery' on it afterwards
As for stink, I guess theres a little bit.. it mostly gets vented outside for the neighbors to enjoy :rolleyes:

Mike Null
12-23-2006, 8:08 AM
There was no odor due to a pretty good exhaust system. I once forgot to turn it on and the smell will make you remember.:eek:

I used Johnson's dark paste was which darkened the leather slightly. I have used leather dye in the past for a darker leather but didn't have time on this to find the proper dilution and then to let it dry etc., etc.

I used paste wax because I had used it on another project 5 years ago and it is holding up well with just a little dusting from time to time. After the engraving and before I removed the transfer paper I waxed the engraved area, then did the entire piece again for uniformity.

I used transfer paper on the leather prior to lasering to protect against smoke damage.

The leather was glued to 3/8" plywood with contact cement. I had intended this to be used on another project that I never quite got around to finishing. I've had it in the shop for several years and the glue was as good as new. The leather didn't shrink either.

Good looking work, Bill.

Bob Tate
12-23-2006, 8:32 AM
We have a member here, Daryl Barberousse, that does some stunning work in leather. Check out his web site. This guy has it together.


James Rambo
12-23-2006, 10:24 AM
I love the leather with the indian motif. Where did you get it? I have a customer that asked me to do some items with native stuff and this would work great for him thanks for the idea.

Bill Cunningham
12-23-2006, 9:44 PM
Here is is in a 300 dpi line art .gif file.. I have it in vector, but its over 900k
You should be able to trace it without problem...
I'm not sure were I got it.. Just one of those things that drifts into your clipart file..

Michael Kowalczyk
12-24-2006, 8:51 PM
Hey Mike, This must be the one you were telling me about the other day. Looks Nice! I will see if there is any leather shops around Houston that have some scraps i can play with. I would love to make a cover for my bibles like Bart has on his site. Thanks,

Mike Null
12-25-2006, 8:39 AM

I bought a whole hide several years ago from a leather distributor in Cols., Ohio. I made a couple of table tops and a few other small items and still have a good bit left.

I love working with it as it's so easy to cut and finish.

It's fairly thick so I don't know if it'll work for a bible cover.

Rob Bosworth
12-26-2006, 3:22 PM
Does anyone have any expamples of laser engraved black leather?

I just got a new 4" wide Santa's belt. A fellow out in Colorado made it for me. It is beautiful, but unfortunately, it arrived on Friday, kinda at the end of the Santa season. The belt is a nice thick, polished black leather belt, 4" wide, and 54" long. Now that the season is over, I am thinking it might be neat to "decorate" the belt. I might even be able to play with doing some "faux" 3D engraving.

Has anyone done anything like this? Does anyone have a picture that they could post of detailed black leather engraving. I know I could probably hand tool something, but I would like to try lasering.

(I already am going to try making a buckle by laser engraving a mold and casting a buckle. That will probably take me some time to figure out. Yea, but we love challenges)

Mike Null
12-26-2006, 4:23 PM

I've had one or two somewhat unsuccessful experiences but they were on thin leather.

In your case, if you were doing a monogram for example, you might consider engraving the surround and leaving the letters un-engraved.

Earlier in this thread there's a link to a very professional web site and you might pick up an idea from that.

Bill Cunningham
12-26-2006, 9:19 PM
I had a fellow send me 6 expensive Danier black leather wallets to etch some monograms into.. I ALWAYS tell the customer, that I have no idea what colour the leather will turn, when hit with the laser.. Depends on the 'genitics' of the particlar cow :D In this case, all the wallets turned a nice light brown, except for one which turned 'white' As it turned out, the initials on this wallet were for the best man, and the groom just told him he had it done 'special';)

I'm a handgun shooter, and the picture of a 1911 I etched on my own black wallet turned a nice shade of grey... So, you just never know what you will end up with, when it comes to coloured leather

Vince Williams
12-26-2006, 9:27 PM
Yes, I have done black leather with great results. 3d is the best i have found for black leather. I have done 4" harley coasters, leather tabs for an Amish saddle maker, and 1.75"x2.75" keychains will try to upload some pictures for you.


Carol VanArnam
12-26-2006, 11:03 PM
:confused: :confused: So you laser your wallet or belt but how does it stand up to use? I'm just wondering how long it stands up to daily use.

also- when you laser what are your settings... are you going fast and low power? how about your dpi setting?

Rob Bosworth
12-27-2006, 12:12 PM
Thanks Mike. I looked at that site. They had some really impressive leather engraving on the site. I looked at that site a month or two ago, looking for a pair of boots and or a belt for Santa to wear.

I haven't engraved leather for years. The smell stuck with me. If I remember, the leather around the engraving tended to be a little brittle. If I engrave the black polished leather, can I then work black polish or stain into the engraved area?

Bill Cunningham
12-27-2006, 12:40 PM
Here is a look at my wallet, etched 6 months ago, and a look at it scanned 10 minutes ago.. Like most men, I keep my wallet in my back pocket.. The etching is still there, and quite plainly visible..
I think this one was done @ 400 dpi 70 speed/70 power I know for deepstuff like a belt, I run at 100 power, and 50 speed.. for photos, (using the epilog photo mode @ 400 dpi) I use speed 100/ power 80 on a 35 watt