Wooden Leather Burnisher

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Introduction: Wooden Leather Burnisher

About: My Name is Nick and I love making things!! Learning about everything is something I like to do. I have been a carpenter here in Australia for about 10 years but recently have quit my job to do something I...

After doing some serious leather work, I wasn't happy with the cut edges on what I was making. Normally I don't burnish edges because the sealant I use soaks into the edge and makes the edge very water proof. However for this particular project I am making I felt it needed it. I read on a few sites that burnishing can take hours sooo I did some thinking and thought " why not make a burnisher that fits on a Dremel, a fast burnisher!!!". I then did some YouTubing and found a video with a guy using one he bought. I designed mine differently to take three different sizes of leather. 1-2mm, 3mm and larger. It works great and takes only a few minutes to burnish quite a lot of leather. I hope you guys enjoy.

Step 1: Things You Need

First I bought a timber curtain rod end and cut the base sides off so that it does not roll away when put on a bench or piece of marble. It will look like.. . . .. ... LOL ...UM well ya know. Next get some 3mm or 1/8th braising rod. This is very cheap from a hardware store, I had some laying around so I cut a small piece about 50mm or 2 inches.

Step 2: Drill Base

Next Put a 1/8th or 3mm drill in your Dremel and make a hole as straight as you can in the base of the curtain rod.

Step 3: Mix Glue

Next mix up some Araldite and swirl it around the braising rod and put it in the base even drip some in.

Step 4: Let It Dry

Let this sit for 24 hours - don't jump the gun on this step. I also filled a crack that was in this timber with the glue.

Step 5: Trim Braising Rod

Then with wire cutters, cut the base off the rod so it fits most of the way into the Dremel drill, then sand smooth.

Step 6: Cut Lines

Next use a hacksaw to cut in lines on the timber where you want to have your grooves. Do this by turning on the Dremel and slowly touching the hacksaw teeth to the timber bit you have made.

Step 7: Shaping

Next use the hacksaw as a lathe tool to shape the timber while the Dremel is going. You could use a rats tail file for this if you have one or even really heavy-grit sandpaper. I turned the hacksaw on an angle to open up the grooves.

Step 8: Sand It

I then I used sandpaper to clean the grooves out. Follow this with 600 grit wet and dry paper to smooth out the grooves and surface. I changed this later by opening the grooves to be more concave, although it created a very cool V shape on the edges at first.

Shape it according to what you want your leather edges to look like.

To use this, wet the leather with water and then burnish. No products required.

3 People Made This Project!

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21 Comments

user

Great idea, I bought a set of cheap 1s that was 27.00. Most cost 36.00 upwards to 60.00. I will definitely do this. For those asking, this is a good way to burnish leather edges for any application. Much faster and easier with a tool like this and a dremel. I used hand slickers for years. To keep from burning the edges, just keep wetting them with a sponge and water or edge dye and a wool dobber.

1 reply

Thanks for the input! Yep definatly agree burnt edges arent nice to look at.

This makes me want to get into leatherworking that I have been considering to make my own belts. Now I have a major process simplified in your instructable. I'm not sure what burnishing does. Is it a way of sealing the edge by slightly burning? Do you use any preparations? Thanks for your clever instructable.

2 replies

It not only is much better for look, feel, and usefullness, (it's one of the big differences between professional work and everything else), but it's also more durable, especially after you've added the edge dressing, because the most vulnerable part of the leather has been made tougher, less absorbent and snag-resistant.

Burnishing can be done a few ways. Basically it forces the grain of the leather down flat to create a nice rounded feel. It helps the edge stiffen so that it copes better with knocks etc. on a belt it will help the belt slide through your belt loops. Preferably you don't want to burn the leather. Just enough pressure to round it. Thanks for your nice comment.

Great idea and great istructable! Question: Isn't delrin considered even better for burnishing leather? It's just as machinable, and tougher.

Great burnisher! I"ll turn one on my lathe right away! Great instructable! I'm going to put mine on a drill press so I can use two hands to hold the leather.

What a smart idea! Thanks for sharing.

This is really great. I can think of lots of uses for this new shop toy. I'll throw some Ile on the lathe and make several in different sizes. Thank you.

1 reply

Great! I would love to see them when you have made them. Please share.

Is the burnisher also safe for personal application? ...just asking ...for a friend.

This is awesome and I will definitely need to make one for myself.

P.S. I think traditionally you would still use some form of sealer in conjunction with burnishing. From what I've read it seems the best method is to coat the edge in a sealer, such as gum tragacanth, and then burnish it. The heat from the burnishing motion heats the gum trag and bonds it with the leather creating a smooth sealed edge.

Damned autocorrect. Ipe, not Ile.

Nice build,made some thing simular years ago.
Seen a lot guys using these on the net,some secret wax mixture for great edges.

1 reply

Oh great!! Can you post up some pics of yours? Then people will have more ideas. Thanks for the nice comments also to everyone

really well done, thanks for the photos and instructions! great 'ible!

1 reply

Hey no probs. I can't wait for someone to make one and post it up. Takes about 1 hour to make and has saved me about 8hrs in the short time I have had it.

Bubinga hardwood makes a really good burnisher, just smooth it down to 150 grit sandpaper.