How to Burnish Leather – 4 Simple Ways

The smooth feel of leather, having a perfect finishing, is amazing. If you desire smooth leatherwork worth appreciating, you must remove the rough edges to give them a shiny look. For this, you have to know how to burnish leather efficiently.

Irrespective of the leather type, leatherwork, gone through burnishing, are usually attractive, long-lasting, and worth every penny spent on them. Burnishing leather can be a tedious job, however, but the result is always worth the effort.

Steps to Burnishing Leather

Processed leather comes out even and smooth but, crafting them requires cutting which exposes the loose fibers at the edges of the leather, giving them a fray and raw appearance.

Burnishing adds the perfect finish that makes leather products appear high-quality, so you’ll need some essential tools and techniques for ease and to achieve a great result. However, you may also learn how to burnish leather without tools at home if you don’t have the required tools.

Not knowing how to burnish leather shoes or how to burnish leather belts and any other piece of leatherwork, for that matter, will reduce the quality of that item because the job will seem incomplete. The major tools you’ll need to burnish leather include:

how to burnish leather edge

  • Beveler
  • Gum or beeswax
  • Sandpaper or sanding attachment for machines
  • Buffing cloth
  • Wood, glass, or metal burnisher

So, here are steps on how to burnish leather edges for smooth finishing.

Step One: Sand the Leather Edges

Sanding the edges using an abrasive material such as sandpaper is a great way to achieve smoothness. It helps to trim the leather fibers as the heat from the friction makes the fibers bind well to the leather, producing a nice and polished edge.

Step Two: Use the Beveler

After sanding, the next step is to run the beveled through the leather edges. This beveling process is necessary because it makes the edge of the leatherwork become rounded and ensures it doesn’t fold while burnishing.

Step Three: Apply a Coat on the Leather Edges

This coat application is a simple yet essential process in leather burnishing. Here, you’ll coat the edges of the leather using a compound such as gum seals or paraffin wax. You may also check out how to burnish leather with beeswax if that compound is available to you.

Using any of these compounds to coat the leather edges makes it hard and gives the shiny appearance you desire to see at the end of the job.

Water is equally good where none of these compounds are available. Some people wonder how to burnish leather with water but, it’s just the same process as using any of these other compounds and, you’ll also get an excellent result.

All you need is to apply the appropriate quantity of the compound on the leather edges, ensuring it becomes damp and not wet due to excess. Also, take care to apply the compound evenly throughout the leather edges.

Step Four: Rub the Leather Edges

Next is to burnish the leather edges by rubbing a hard object or material against it. The objects or material should have a hard and smooth surface, but it shouldn’t be abrasive to avoid removing the compound used for coating.

You may use a wood piece if you are burnishing by hand or mount it to a power drill if you are using a machine burnisher. Also, ensure the mounted wood pieces are strong enough to have leather pressed against it, and it’ll remain stable.

Apply some pressure while rubbing the leather edges against the hard object and the leather will darken a bit and begin to shine. Then, air-dry the leather to let it harden. Ensure not to dry under direct sunlight because the sun can change the color of the leather item.

Tip: After drying the leather, you can apply a leather burnishing cream lightly on it, to protect the finish and make it last for a long time.

how to burnish leather belt

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you burnish leather without a burnisher?

You can burnish leather without a burnisher by using a hard object with a smooth surface such as a wooden handle. Run the object over the edge of your leather by applying some pressure to get the leather shiny.

However, ensure that this hard object or material is not abrasive to avoid the risk of removing the compound applied earlier for coating the leather edges.

How do you hand-burnish leather?

You can hand-burnish leather by following the steps below:

  • Use an abrasive material to brush the leather edges. The material can be sandpaper or emery cloth. Run the abrasive material over the leather edges with light, quick strokes while applying pressure.
  • Apply a coating compound on the edges of the leather. You can use beeswax, paraffin wax, or water as the compound for coating. This coating will make the edges sturdy and shiny. Ensure to use the correct quantity and apply it evenly to the leather edges.
  • Use a hard object with a smooth surface to rub the leather edges. This rubbing will help you to achieve smoother edges.
  • Allow the leather to dry by air drying it in a room and not under direct sunlight. Once the leather is dry, it’ll be hard and polished.

Can you burnish leather without gum?

Yes, you can burnish leather without gum. You can use wax or water that is free of impurities or additives. Whichever compound you use, gum, wax, or water, will give a satisfactory result, provided you follow the procedure.

Can you burnish leather with leather?

There are several items or tools you can use to burnish leather edges. However, the leather may not be one of them. You can use wooden or plastic burnishing tools as they are designed to be hard and smooth. They are also sturdy and can withstand the pressure you apply while burnishing.

What is a leather burnishing tool?

A leather burnishing tool is a device used to burnish, smoothen, or polish the edges and surfaces of leatherwork to produce heat through friction. This tool is essential as it is the basis for beginning leatherwork.

Leather burnishing tools come in various materials such as wood and plastics, hands, and machine burnishers. They make the work easier and give your leather a sophisticated appearance.

What is the process of burnishing?

The process of burnishing involves polishing a thing by rubbing and generating heat. Perhaps, you are looking for how to smooth leather in leatherwork and then consider burnishing the leather.

The steps one can take to burnish leather include sanding with an abrasive material such as sandpaper to smoothen the edges, coating with a compound such as wax, burnishing with a hard object, and buffing to dry.

Wrap Up

Leather is an essential material that one can use to make various products. However, cutting it exposes the fibers at the edges and makes the leatherwork appear rough hence the need to know how to burnish leather to seal the edges and make it shiny.

The burnishing process may take some time and energy, but the result is always worth it. All you need is the basic tools and the correct technique, and you’ll easily create high-quality leatherwork with professional edges.

Evina Naomi

Ewofere, Evina Naomi is a biotechnologist and passionate content writer. As a great lover of leather and various leather crafts, she broadly addresses leather-related issues. She is a writer of many excellent articles on leather. With great knowledge and enthusiasm, readers can access researched pieces on various leather types and the best techniques that work on them. Naomi is here to lead you through the journey of choosing excellent leather products and ensure you handle them rightly. So you can embark on your leather sewing and crafting journey with her and have an incredible experience.

Recent Posts