What are the Best Tips for Leather Embossing?

K. Gierok

One of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to successful leather embossing is choosing the right materials, starting with soft leather. As the name suggests, soft leather is relatively pliable and is a great choice for leather embossing. In addition, you will need a template with the design that you have chosen to use. If you are still a beginning embosser, be sure to avoid choosing a design that is too challenging.

Rags may be used to keep leather moist during leather embossing.
Rags may be used to keep leather moist during leather embossing.

Another important tip to remember when performing leather embossing is the importance of keeping the leather moist. One of the easiest ways to do this is by placing several clean rags in a bowl that has been filled with warm water. Allow the rags to soak for a substantial period of time, remove them from the bowl, and wring out the excess water. Carefully place your damp rags on top of the leather. Once you are ready to begin leather embossing, remove the rags from the piece of leather and wipe away the excess water.

Setting up your template for use is also important when it comes to achieving success with leather embossing. Start by putting your template on a sturdy piece of wood and nailing it in place. Once the template is secure, place your leather face side down on top of the template. Place a piece of Styrofoam over the leather. Put several sturdy weights on top of the piece of Styrofoam, such as hand weights of even, heavy books.

Next, be sure that you have allowed enough time for the leather to become embossed before removing the Styrofoam and weights. Ideally, it should sit undisturbed for at least seven hours. After this amount of time has passed, carefully and slowly remove both the weights and the Styrofoam from the leather and examine the piece closely. The outline of the template should be clearly pressed into the backside of the leather. If the outline is not clear at this point, you can carefully tap the leather onto the template with a rubber mallet for better results.

Lastly, practice. As with any art form, this is the only way to achieve high success with leather embossing. Don't be afraid to increase the difficulty of the leather embossing templates you are using. After a few attempts, you will become familiar with the tricks of the trade and your skills are likely to improve.

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Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - There are leather conditioners you can get which will prevent it from getting moldy. I think most people who emboss their own leather would add these automatically, but if you got the leather overseas they might not have had access to a decent equivalent.

I think you can get it at craft stores, or even furniture stores (for use with leather couches and so forth). Alternatively you might even be able to find it at a shoe store, since they would sell leather conditioner for leather shoes.

If you are just starting out with embossing you might want to use this to keep your leather in good condition as well.


Embossed leather can be absolutely stunning. I did some shopping while I was traveling in Africa and one of the things I couldn't resist was different items of embossed leather.

Of course, there they did it with traditional tools, which made it even more special. But it looks just as nice as the stuff made with a leather embossing machine.

I even got a small table that is covered with leather that's been embossed with different patterns. It's one of my favorite things.

The only caveat is that you have to make sure the leather doesn't go moldy by keeping it well oiled and clean and in dry conditions as much as possible. I imagine that's true of any sort of embossed leather.


Personally, one of the things I think people should keep in mind when they start this hobby and/or job is where their leather comes from.

I'm not against using leather at all, but so much cow skin and other kinds of skin are wasted in the meat industry. You really should try to make sure that no additional animals were killed just to get their leather.

I think most of the time people do use skins from the meat industry, but it is worth checking out, all the same.

You might also want to make sure the cows had a comfortable life, although since the skins would go to waste regardless, I don't think that's as much of an issue.

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