Introduction: How to Glue Leather for Sewing

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One of the first things I discovered when I started leatherworking is that trying to sew leather together is TOUGH. However, there is hope! Gluing your projects together before you punch holes or sew makes the process much more simple.

Gluing leather also comes with its own set of problems, but they're easily avoided if you work smart. :D

Check out my other leather ibles for more leatherworking basics:

Step 1: What You'll Need

  • leather for gluing
  • parchment or wax paper
  • paper towels
  • leather glue OR contact cement
  • something to hold it while it dries - I'm using small clamps

I'm using a glue specially made for leather, but I've also read on several leatherworking forums that contact cement can work just as well. :)

The parchment or wax paper will act as a guide for gluing. I tried using masking and painter's tape, but sometimes the adhesive on the tape can leave marks on the leather.

Step 2: Use the Parchment to Keep the Glue in Check

Lay the parchment or wax paper over the leather so the area you want to apply glue to is exposed. Hold it down firmly and apply the glue thinly along the edge.

When you peel back the parchment you'll have a nice crisp line! Now you can press the pieces together.

Important notes:

Always apply the glue carefully - too much glue can making sewing and punching holes impossible. You can also accidentally glue places you don't mean to if you apply too much, as it'll squish around when you press the pieces together.

The worst thing, though, is when glue gets on the grain (the nice side!) side of the leather - this will leave a permanent spot on the leather that won't accept oils, waxes or dyes.

Almost always, you'll be able to glue flesh-to-flesh sides of the leather. Grain-to-grain leather gluing can be tough. If you ever need to glue leather together on the grain sides, you might want to use a leather skiver or a hobby knife to remove the very top layer of the leather on the edge of the pieces. This will leave you with an easier to glue surface. :D

Step 3: Clamp to Dry

Once I've glued my pieces, I like to clamp them to make sure they dry in the right position.

I prefer to wrap the glued edge in paper towels and then apply the clamps. The paper towels will catch any excess glue and keep the clamps from leaving indentations in your leather.

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