Make a Custom Leather Crest Using 3D Printing (large Size 4")




Introduction: Make a Custom Leather Crest Using 3D Printing (large Size 4")

About: I am a Mechanical Engineer who loves to design and build things. I'm always working on new and fun projects.

Do you want to be able to make your own large leather crest?

Well here is an inexpensive way to make one and make it look great.

Here's what you will need:

- 3D modeling software access (tinkercad is free online)

- 3D printer (or printing service)

- 4" x 4" x1/2" piece of aluminum plate (or you can cut one to size with a hacksaw, and an endmill See Step 3)

- Epoxy Glue

- Clamps

- Sandpaper

- 1 Ton press

- Veg Tan Leather

- Plastic Bowl

- Sponge

- Bristol Board

- Rubber Cement

- Compass

- Exacto Knife

- Poundo Board

- 2 mm 2 hole punch

- Poly Mallet

- Disposable Vinyl Gloves

- Antique Gel Stain (or other stain)

- Cotton Daubers

- Paper Towel

- Burnishing Tool

- Dry cloth or towel

- Tan Kote (clear coating)

Step 1: Develop Your Stamp Design and Print the Pattern

First you need to design your pattern.

Pick a design you like and sketch it out using your design tool.

Make sure any design lines are at least 0.5 mm thick or it won't be strong enough to stamp.

Things to remember:

- Anything you make as a positive feature (extrusion) will be a deboss on the leather surface

- Make sure to mirror the desired image as the stamp will make an inverted image.

- 2.5 mm of depth is good as most leather is about 3 mm thick.

- Make sure the design has about a 1 - 2 mm backing to support everything.

- Make sure there is enough negative (cut) space for the leather to move during stamping.

Step 2: Have the Stamp Design Printed

On to printing.

I had mine printed in Taulman Alloy 910 filament at it has held up extremely well and is very strong.

If your design is very complex I would recommend this material as well.

- Print the design piece using your printer or find someone to print it for you on 3D Hubs.

- It should be a print with a high resolution to pick up the fine details.

- Make an extruded circle of the border of the crest to mark where the stitches will go.

Now it's time to build the stamp

Step 3: Let's Build a Leather Stamp

- Start off with your 4" x 4" x 1/2" aluminum piece.

- If you don't have an aluminum piece cut to size, check out a metal supermarket or similar store to try and get one.

From a large piece of aluminum plate:

- Cut a rough square greater than 4" x 4" from the plate using a hacksaw.

- Using the straightest edge of the piece as reference, use an end mill to smooth out the edges nice and straight, finish with a climb milling pass for a nice finish.

- Use some sandpaper to rough up one side of the aluminum plate and the backside of the stamp.

- Following the instructions of the glue, apply epoxy to the aluminum surface, and clamp the stamp piece in the center of the plate. Let the glue cure.

Congrats! you just made a reusable 4" leather stamp.

Step 4: Time to Stamp the Leather

- First cut some Veg Tan leather pieces about 1/4" - 1/2" larger than your desired size.

- Apply rubber cement to the bototm of the leather piece and a bristol board piece and glue them together. (You make need to put a heavy book on top to make sure it sticks) Let the glue dry.

- Fill a plastic bowl with water (1/2 way)

- Using a sponge, wet down the leather pieces evenly, and let sit till the leather turns back to it's original color.

- Repeat until the leather feels slightly wet but not soaked, it should feel cool to the touch as well.

- Make sure your arbor press is clamped to your worktable.

- Setup your stamping with a plate on the bottom, then the leather piece, then the stamp, then another plate (depending on the swing of your arbor press, we don't want to dent the aluminum either)

- Once set up, use the arbor press to press the stamp into the leather in the center location.

- Shift the leather piece without removing the stamp to another spot on the stamp and repeat.

- Repeat the pressing on various spots until the entire surface has been pushed down thoroughly, and perhaps repeat some area again. (Push down very hard)

- Remove the piece for the press, and gently pull the stamp off. Let the leather dry.

- To remove the cardboard, peel it off while keeping the leather piece face down, flat on a work surface to avoid any excessive warping or wrinkling.

Step 5: Leather Trimming and Prep

- Use a compass to trace a circle around approx 1/8" outside the edge of the crest design.

- Use an exacto knife to trim the circle you just inscribed.

- Use an edge beveler to clean up the outer edge of the crest.

- Starting at one side, use a 2 prong 2 mm hole punch and punch a set of holes in the crest. Use a poly mallet and work on top of a poundo board.

- Remove the punch, and punch the next hole using one of the previously punched holes as a guide and the line from the punch.

- Repeat until all you have completed the circle.

Step 6: Dying, Edging, Protective Coat, Finished :)

Since there are many recessed features that we want to stand out by making them darker and more defined, the kindly staff at my local Tandy suggested the Eco-Flow Antique gel.

- Pick a colour you like from Tandy's instore test pieces. (Remember that leather pieces dye slightly differently)

Wear disposable vinyl gloves or you will dye your fingers in this process.

- Using a cotten daub, spread the dye all over your crest piece EVENLY. It can be thick as long as it's even.

- Use a paper towel to VERY GENTLY wipe the dye off the top of the piece to try to keep the dye in the recesses.

- Repeat until the piece has the desired appearance. Make sure to dye the edge as well.

- When the dye is mostly dry, use a sponge to apply water from a plastic bowl to a small portion of the edge of the piece, then using a burnishing tool, rub the edge vigorously to seal the edge.

- Repeat the process to burnish all of the edge.

- Apply an even coat of Kote-Tan to the surface of the crest using a cotton dauber. Let dry, then repeat if desired.

Congratulations! You have just made a custom crested leather piece all on your own.

Tandy Leather Contest 2016

Participated in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016

Makerspace Contest

Participated in the
Makerspace Contest

1 Person Made This Project!


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4 Discussions


4 years ago

nice work! as both an amateur leatherworker and a 3D Printing enthusiast, it got me wondering if it's possible to use a 3D Printer as a leather engraver, if you take out the filament and offset the Z-Axis.


Reply 4 years ago

I'm not sure it would work. The way I'd look at things, the print head has 0 force applied to it (aside from gravity) so it is not used to feedback. Leather engraving I believe is usually done by force. I've seen laser engravers attached to the XY axis of a printer to be used that way, but it's not receiving any force.

I just don't think the stepper motor on the Z-axis of a 3D printer could provide and handle enough force to actually engrave the surface without damaging it. I may be wrong, but this is my opinion on the idea. It's neat, but I think a laser engraver would be better.


4 years ago

Really cool work! Love the design as well.


Reply 4 years ago

Thank you very much :D