9 Oct 2015


There are a lot of edges to burnish on this bag so I thought that I would show you how I do it. Well that is actually not that easy to do because I always end up trying different things and going back and forth between step. These are the steps I go through:
  1. Wet the edge with a molotow marker filled with water.
  2. Lightly burnish the "edge" of the edge
  3. Dye the edge.
  4. Burnish with canvas cloth
  5. Apply leather hardener with a molotow marker
  6. Let dry for several hours
  7. Sand the edge with sandpaper grid 80 or 180
  8. Dye the edge
  9. Wet the edge
  10. Burnish with canvas cloth
Repeat step 8-10 until edge is as smooth as desired. For an ultra smooth edge you can finish of the last few "repetitions" using 400 to 1000 grit instead of 180.

Sometimes I finish by applying beeswax and then burnish with the canvas cloth. This gives a bit of greasy feel. I also tried wetting a rag with the leather hardener and running it over the edge (this works best with a ultra smooth edge)

My burnishing method does not differ much from how most people burnish. There are some differences that I would like to highlight.

Firstly I use Molotow markers to apply all fluids to the edge. As with the dyeing it just makes things so much easier. Some people insist on using a felt rag in a clothespin or something similar but I find this to be cumbersome. Especially when applying the dye you want something that does not deform or have stray hairs going everywhere.

Talking about the dyeing another crucial step to get a crisp line is to burnish the edge of the edge. I use a dremel with a homemade burnishing wheel made out of some kind of very dense wood. You could use a bone folder or even a pen instead. I have never seen anybody do this but I really like the method. The cleaver reader might ask "why don't you just burnish the hole edge before dyeing?" Good question! When burnishing it kind of seals the edge making it harder for the dye to penetrate. That is the reason why I always sand the edge before applying dye.

The last thing I want to mention is the fact that I sand after I burnish with the canvas cloth. This does not seem to be common practice. It does however make perfect sense to me. To get a smooth edge you need to get rid of all pits and valleys. The valleys will be taken away by the first sanding but to get rid of the pits you have to remove "a lot" of material. Unburnished leather is too soft to sand to a smooth finish so the only way around it is to do it after you have burnished. This might be different if you have access to some sort of belt sander but as I only have sandpaper and muscle power I really don't know.

The difference between ultra smooth and normal. The top one is the ultra smooth right after it is done. When it dries up up some "cracks" will appear.

 Wet the edge.
 Burnish the edge of the edge with dremel tool, bone folder or a pen.
 You can clearly see the difference in where the edge has been burnished.
 Here the back side edge has been burnished as well.
 Dye the edge.
 Burnish with the canvas cloth. I know this is not the strap but I cant find the image. You get the idea.
 Apply hardener.
 Edge after the hardener has dried
 Sand it.
 Edge after sanding
 After applying dye.

 After applying water

 The flash really kills it. The edge looks good in normal daylight.


  1. Hello!
    Саn I learn, what paint for edges use You and what hardener?
    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi, I just use my normal dye for the edges. The hardener is this one: http://www.leatherhouse.eu/products/35-top-finish/621-leather-hardener/
      Nothing special about it :)

    2. Hi, Did I understand correctly (base by the pictures) that the processing sequence is as follows: 1) water, tarpaulin, paint 2) sandpaper 3) hardener, sandpaper 3) paint, sandpaper. The question is, what is the point of painting before the hardener? Thank you!

    3. Well the process is not cut in stone. You just need to try what works for you and the leather you're working with. With some of the recent leather I worked with I found that the hardener does not really make that big of a difference so I just leave it out.

      I apply the paint before the hardener because I think that dye penetrate the leather better when nothing has been done to the edge.

  2. Your post is really helpful... Good job.. That's the edge that i want to reach...