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Leather embossing, using leather embossing kits to make embossed leather

Updated on November 18, 2010

What is Leather Embossing?

Most people have heard about getting a design or initials embossed in a fine leather briefcase or maybe a leather belt. But few really know just what it is and how you emboss leather. The art of leather embossing is really quite simple and most anyone can do it.

Leather embossing is using a pre-made design, letters or an embossing wheel to press or stamp a design into leather. Think of how kids use stamps with designs in them to press into play-doh. The same principle is used in embossing leather.

After you make the embossed leather design you also can use leather dye or leather paint to color the emboss. Most leather briefcases and other fine leather items that have initials embossed into it have them colored a nice gold or silver.

Leather embossing kits, tools and wheels

Because leather is pretty sturdy material most leather embossing tools are made of steel or other strong metal. Big companies use giant embossing machines costing thousands of dollars. But leather embossing hobby kits can be bought for less than $100.00.

Most good leather embossing kits come with a good selection of embossing tools, dies, wheels and leather working tools. They also have several raw leather pieces ready to emboss and turn into a nice wallet, pet collar or leather belt.

The three most common leather embossing tools are design dies, letter dies and leather embossing wheels. The embossing designs are metal designs at the end of a metal rod. They can be anything, like a star, deer, bird, whatever you want.

A leather embossing alphabet set has every letter shaped into the end of a metal rod, or die. That is how you make leather embossing initials and names. They can also have many types of fonts you can buy.

Finally there is the leather embossing wheel. It's a handle with a small, strong steel wheel at the end of it with different patterns in the wheel. By pressing down hard and rolling it across the leather you can make beautiful designs in the border or down a leather belt.

How to make embossed leather

You should use vegetable tanned leather or what is called tooling leather to make embossed leather. This type of leather is softer and easy to work with. The leather included in leather embossing kits are tooling leather. Most briefcases, saddlebags and leather items like that are also vegetable tanned leather.

First wet the leather to make it soft. Do this by soaking it with wet rags, or use a steam iron and steam the leather carefully. Lay the leather over a sturdy workbench or table. Your going to be pounding the leather so don't use your fancy kitchen table!

Mark the area on the leather where you want your designs, initials or whatever with a pencil. Tracing where you want the embossing to be is much better than guessing. For names or initials use a ruler and draw a straight line where the bottom of the letters should be.

Place your design or letter die tool straight up on the leather where you want it on the side of the leather you want it to show. Taking a wooden or rubber mallet hit the top end of the die tool sharply. It does not have to be too hard, just solid sharp taps.

Tipping the leather embossing die tool slightly all the way around as you tap it will make sure the edges of the design are impressed in the leather well. Once done go to the next spot and use the next leather embossing die tool.

To use a leather embossing wheel make sure the leather cannot move. Place the wheel where you want to start, press down firmly and roll it along the leather. Follow the leather edge to make a pretty border, or follow a pencil path on the leather to make loops and shapes.

Dying and painting your embossed leather

Once you have your embossed leather designs, initials or patterns in your leather item, let it dry overnight. Then if you want you can add color to your embossed leather designs. Use leather dye or leather paint to fill in your embossed work.

Once that is dry finish it with a leather sealer to protect it and make it water resistant. Leather embossing kits are easy to find in hobby stores and online. There are many different leather embossing tools you can add to a kit as you get more experienced.

So that is how to do leather embossing! It's fun and can make a plain leather briefcase or wallet look much better with embossed leather designs or initials. Leather embossing kits make a great gift also.


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    • Bill Manning profile image

      Bill Manning 6 years ago from Orlando, Fl.

      Wow that's a tough question Siv. You would have to try a tooling company or something like that. I don't know any right now but I'll let you know if I think of any.

    • profile image

      Siv Anita Elstad 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing! I wonder if you have any idea, of where I can find someone who could manufacture a stamp tool with my logo on it?

    • profile image

      Lanajoy 6 years ago

      Great explanation and very helpful!

    • danfresnourban profile image

      danfresnourban 6 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you for sharing this comprehensive page on leather embossing, I have never done leather work but I have appreciated the finished product and always wanted to try it someday. I will bookmark this hub so I have the information ready when I finally get around to trying it.

    • Bill Manning profile image

      Bill Manning 7 years ago from Orlando, Fl.

      Thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed the article. :)

    • PassinItAlong profile image

      PassinItAlong 7 years ago

      Brillant intro to the craft, you have me feeling like making things now. thank you

    • Tim_511 profile image

      Tim_511 7 years ago from Huntington, WV

      Nice overview! Thanks!