Cutting/engraving dyed veg tan

So I’ve seen that veg tanned leather is preferred because the chrome tanned leathers release harmful byproducts. I haven’t seen anything about using dyed leathers though. What would happen if I were to take a piece of veg tan, dye it with some Fiebing’s Pro Dye or something, and cut/engrave it? Would I need to worry about any toxins like with chrome tanned?

I did see an older thread on here about someone using a pre-dyed Tandy’s piece that smelled very badly, but in this case, I would be dying the leather myself. Don’t know if that makes a difference, but I would love to hear if anyone has experience with this.

Should be fine. Since the dyes are meant to be used by “regular folks” without lots hazmat capabilities they’re generally non-toxic (except maybe drinking it). Once they’ve dried into the leather you’re good to go.

Several of the leather folks here do some dying first before lasering. @jae on GF’s staff does some stunning work with leather. I think @deirdrebeth can also weigh in with some amount of expertise.

As for the smell, it’s a personal thing. I tell my laser students that it smells like burning flesh because it is burning flesh. But if you vent it outside you probably won’t have much of an issue. It’s only an issue if you don’t have good venting. Personally I find extruded acrylic stinkier.

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Almost all materials you laser do. Just make sure your vent setup is good and that part isn’t so worrisome.

I’ve done some projects that required me to dye before throwing the project into the forge. For this one, the piece was oiled, dyed, then re-masked before engraving. I came over the engraved area with some gold leather paint before removing the masking -

In general though, I tend to engrave before I dye on the rare occasions that I engrave anything. This wallet was engraved first…

I’ll be honest though and say that my biggest reason for not dying before I engrave is because I place a really high value on scrap material. These all came out of my scrap bin - there might be two pieces on a single mask that came from the same piece of leather… but if so, it’s something like the strap keeper or the bits that hold on the D-rings -

Since my leather is undyed when it’s cut, I can use multiple pieces of scrap for a single project and then dye everything to match. For me, that’s worth a lot!


When it comes to leather, listen to @Jae.


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