How to engrave leather (the easy way)

If you want to leave your initials or write your favorite phrase on a leather item, be sure to read this fabulous tutorial. Here I will tell you all about How to engrave leather easily and how to do it yourself.

It’s a super easy method to do, you just have to be detailed and attentive. If you already have some experience, you will be able to make a more complex drawing or design. 

There are two ways to leave a drawing or text on the leather, they are engraving and embossing. These are techniques that leave incredible results on your leather pieces, but they are applied with different tools and shapes.

Keep reading and I will tell you all about “how to engrave leather”!

The best way how to engrave leather (2022)

The first thing to do for leather engraving is to use vegetable leather, this material is the best to leave your designs due to its characteristics of impermeability, strength, and flexibility, essential for this method of engraving.

Another tool will be a riveting press, which is in charge of applying the force to apply your design.

You will also need a stamp with the letters, phrases, or drawings you want to engrave, this stamp can be done with a 3D printer or you can do it manually with the material you want.

The important thing is that it has reliefs and is hard and resistant enough to withstand the weight and pressure of the press.

To better remember the items, here is a checklist: 

  • Vegetable leather
  • Stamp
  • Riveting press
  • Cloth and water container.
  • Wooden board

Now let’s get to engraving!

The first step is to cut out the piece of vegetable leather you want to use and then moisten the surface. It is important to be able to make an engraving on this material, so don’t forget to do it.

Then you place the leather on the press (here it is necessary to have a wooden board or something that serves as a base between the iron and your body) and on top of this, you put the stamp.

Then you press the stamp with the press by sectors, you can start from right to left or vice versa, the important thing is that it is fast and neat, fast because you need your leather to be wet, otherwise if you let time pass, it dries and you will not be able to engrave anything) and neat because you need to make pressure evenly.I recommend doing 2 or 3 passes with the press for only a few seconds.

And that’s it! You know how to engrave leather on your own! 

How to engrave leather

With this technique, your engraving does not lose any detail of the stamp and you will see that the depth is perfect.

If you wish you can add ink to your stamp to engrave it later. You can use normal rubber stamp ink or special engraving inks. Try to use as many items as you want to make your design look beautiful.

Engraving vs. embossing

 I already told you How to engrave leather, now I will tell you about embossing leather. What you need to get, (apart from vegetable leather too) is a tool that has an iron edge and is easy to use and another one that does not have a point, but something rather round, so you can put pressure on it.

The sharp elements can be:

  • An awl
  • A knife with a fine point
  • A screwdriver (with a pointed tip)

Other important elements are your drawing or text traced on tracing paper and masking tape.

The first thing to do is to moisten your selected piece of vegetable leather and moisten it, then put it on top of a wooden board or firm material and fix it with tape at the ends. Then with the blunt tool, outline the outline of the drawing or letter.

Then take the awl (here try to be as careful as possible) and without leaving the lines and very slowly as if it were a caress, you will be lowering the leather little by little or “embossing” in a homemade technique.

Once you have gone evenly throughout the design, remove the paper on the leather and you can see the result.

You can already see that the two techniques are equally efficient, but they are used in different ways as we said. One of them prints a shape on the leather and the other one is like a relief on the piece. In my opinion, neither is better than the other, but perhaps one can have more detail in the depth than the other.

If you wish and you can, my recommendation is to try both methods to define which is the one you like the most or the one that best suits the design you want to engrave on our leather pieces.

A third way to do it would be with the Cricut leather cutting machine, which is super convenient since the machine does everything neat and fast for you. 

Here is a video about how to engrave leather using a Cricut maker:

Always remember, that if you are working with leather, you should use the strong-grip purple mat, so that it will be firm and the lint won’t get all over the leather when you are engraving.

Also, try to apply transfer tape over the ends of the leather and dampen it before using it.

You can use the engraving tip or debossing tip, but the better of the two for me is the engraving tip, as it leaves the engraving with a lot of depth and will not rub off over time (whereas with debossing the design is very subtle and may rub off).

 I hope this tutorial has helped you, and that you experiment in every possible way with your engravings. 

When you gain confidence and experience, you can do more complex things, bigger sizes, and even mass production. The important thing, as I always say, is that you are encouraged to explore with your creativity and bring out all your artistic potential with crafts.

Leather is one of the best materials to make ornaments, objects, personalized wallets, handmade jewelry, and everything you dare to do. Its texture and versatility offer a wide range of possibilities, so I advise you to learn more about this product. 

See you next time step by step! 

Happy crafts!

You can also see this article about Choosing the Best Leather Cutting Machine.