All about leather

@glowforge team, what is the thickest leather that can be cut from one side? By chance does anyone know this information.


I definitely dont know.

But a quick google pulled this forum where they discuss it.

he said to cut 1/8" it took 2+ passes with 45 W. That being said, that is just one guys opinion, and I dont know if he is any good at it. He could be blasting away at full power, or just barely cooking so he doesnt get burn marks. Who knows.

I also know leather can vary widely in density so I’m not sure you will find a consistent answer.

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We haven’t tested maximum thickness, but vegetable tanned leather cuts like butter and oil tanned is just a cooked mess.


Thanks, I can’t wait to see what it can do.

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Leather varies so much, not just by hide thickness and density, but by treatment whether veg tanned or chrome tanned, that I suspect this will be a tannery by tannery, and maybe even hide by hide, experience. I’m just hoping the laser cutting process isn’t so delicate that there are intra-hide issues.


I have one case where am hoping that leather, or more specifically calfskin, is not too sensitive. Going to burn patterns or pictures into calfskin for vintage banjo heads. If I can’t control it enough then the integrity of the head will be destroyed and it will rip under tension.


I’m really glad I bought the filter now - the smell of cooked-oil-tanned-messes probably wouldn’t make my fiance all too happy

@dan, what’s the official word about Glowforging chrome-tanned leather? Safe or not, with the Pro filter?

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That sounds really cool. Will you post some pictures eventually?

Sure if it works out well. Obviously will be a while before I have access to a GF. The only other laser I can get to belongs to the Department of Defense. They tend to frown on personal projects.

Dan has posted several times that chrome tanned leather just doesn’t cut with the glowforge so the smell would seem to be irrelevant. From other forums it seems to be an art to laser-cut chrome tanned leather and may also require a more powerful laser or one that pulses (I don’t think the glowforge pulses). That said, I haven’t see a staff member list weights of chrome tanned leather tested or tanneries. For example did they try a 1.5 oz lambskin chrome tan or a 5oz one? Unless someone else posts a disaster story of trying 1-2oz chrome tan I may give it a shot; I have enough sample laying about. Even with veg tanned there are so many treatments I suspect I’ll run into various issues.


I believe my wallet is 2 oz chrome-tanned but I made it early on with a distant ancestor of today’s GF. You can get through lightweight stuff OK.


I’m feeling like a doofus here, @caribis2. I’ve searched the forum for “chrome” and “tanned” and seen Dan talk about oil tanned leather (and veg-tan of course), but nothing before now about chrome tanned. Would you provide a link or links to the comment/s you’re referring to?

Cool! I have a ton to work with.

Dan’s answer probably did it for you, but here is a link: Oil Leather Quote

You have to search oil and dan

I would be cautious about burning chrome tanned leather.
It seems that one of the by-products of burning it is hexavalent chrome Cr(VI) which is a fairly potent carcinogen.

I was doing a little research since I have absolutely no leather working experience, and I came across this very complete text on google books.

Tanning Chemistry: The Science of Leather

The passage that caught my eye was:

While I would not take this to mean “never put chrome tanned leather in your Glowforge”, it does indicate that you should be cautious about the quantities used, and to make sure your exhaust or filter setup is well thought out and working properly.


The folks from leather supply recommended that I stick to vegetable tanned leather and avoid chrome tanned, mainly from the volatiles emitted.


Here is a good how to for making a leather handle covering without sewing. Very laser friendly in design. It uses holes and slits. kind of like a zipper.


omg i so want to make handles now! I can see some awesome drawer pulls

As a crafter who has worked with a LOT of leather, Use a piece of scrap and do a series of test lines and circles. Do each line / circle in increasing power levels; that way you have a reference piece at the end.

I am looking forward to engraving some designs into base leathers, then aging them with different dies and pigments to give it the finish I am looking for.