How to fix leather once engraved

Fixing leather after engraving so soot does not come off

1 Like

Welcome to the forum. There are many older topics that discuss good procedures for leather engraving.

Not quite sure what you mean.

Fixing: as in fix the soot into the engrave with some type of fixative?

Fixing: fix it so that as to ensure that there is no soot in the engrave that might cause smudges?

Here is one topic that has settings in it that deals with engraving residue. Read through this and see if it is getting to what you want.


There are spray fixatives you can use to “glue” everything down, but I’d suggest cleaning instead (and then conditioning the leather so it doesn’t get brittle).
The simplest way is alcohol and a toothbrush to clean, and then coconut oil to condition (rub it in, leave it overnight, and then wipe off any extra). You can buy commercial cleaners and conditioners too. Windex wipes have also been used by some folks on the forum.


The type of leather you are using, its thickness, and whether using as-is (e.g. already finished) or you plan to dye it after etching will affect your choice.

For all my leathers, including undyed/natural veg tan, I just use bit of hand soap on a toothbrush and bit of running water–the soap helps grab the soot and hold onto it down the drain–you can try water alone with a small brush, but I’ve had soot get into the leather around the etching (which tape helped clean up).

I then pat with a towel to get water off, and leave it flat to finish drying. You may need to dry some leathers longer than others pending the size of the design and finishing, You can always press it with an iron & press cloth (between leather & iron’s sole plate) to flatten it again…

For some finishes, I just use low tack tape to grab and remove the soot–be very careful to use clean piece each time so you don’t transfer the soot from the tape to the unetched areas.

Start with bit of water & soap as the mildest option.
Alcohol is more aggressive approach, and I personally avoid it.

But pending the leather’s finish & what you’re doing with it, it might be better option, but I never use anything but water & soap, then maybe some tape.

And I like Mink Oil for any conditioning work. But different leathers & types of tanning & what you next plan to do with it might require a different approach.

But it’s best to TEST. Always test for your leather & project.

Sometimes tape affects the finished surface in a way you can’t clean up.

Unless you’re soaking the leather in water (as needed for molding /shaping natural veg tan) or its very thin leather or natural veg tan (it acts like a sponge), the light rinse & soapy toothbrush for the etched area should only dampen the area, and in my experience, does not require reconditioning the piece (in my experience–I etch a lot of leathers for various projects, but i don’t do any dye work after etching, either). But I’ve recently had a new piece of a thin cowhide showing where it had been damp…


Thanks for the tips @bansai8creations and @deirdrebeth! I’m going to move this thread to Everything Else so that the discussion can continue.

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.