Laser cut leather from leather jackets. Possible?

I just found out my pro unit is on its way. Time to go from dreaming designs to implementing. One of my ideas was to use old leather jacket leather for projects.

I am working on a design for fish-scale-like bracers (forearm protectors).

Ideally I would like to re-use as opposed to buying new leather.

Is it possible to user recycled leather?

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I would be concerned about the kind of tanning process used for the leather.


If you ask the cows, pretty much all leather is recycled


Recycling is great but it has to be veg tan and most jackets won’t be.

Do you have any examples of what leather items are typically “veg tanned”?

I googled… and figured it out. There are lots of places that sell veg tanned remnants. Very cool. Renewed excitement.


Note: Leather is, by far, the worst smelling thing I’ve put in my Glowforge so far. I haven’t, though, tried acrylic, yet.

A few days ago I would have said I preferred acrylic. The stuff I used yesterday? Give me leather anytime.

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Yup, remnants are your best bet for small things. I can often tell you that something is not veg tan but I can’t reliably tell if it is so I’ll be buying mine.

Yes and you can use either the burn or water test to see if it’s chrome (bad) or veg tanned (good). The trouble is that it’s destructive to a bit of the leather which means if your source is Goodwill or other used clothing places, you need to buy it and then might find out it’s not suitable.

2 more tests I need to learn. Of course, one of my main sources is going to be Tandy and people explicitly labeling veg remnants.

Just a tip…check to see if you have any upholstery places locally. (We have a couple of custom bus builders for the country tour crowd and it can be a great source for some nice leftovers. Even if it can’t be layered it is wonderful for embellishments to a project)

Here you go. Pretty simple.


Response to a comment I made before. That is why I so rarely trust my memory anymore.

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It’s because we’re heading into winter and our bodies are shunting the blood from our brains to keep our bodies warm :grinning:


Yeah, I’ll get on board with that…it has nothing to do with age, nope.


Any modern leather garment (ie not native American buckskin) is almost certainly chrome tanned. Veg tan is just too stiff to be wearable in large pieces. Conveniently veg tan is pretty also pretty inexpensive in the leather world.

Chrome tan is potentially laserable but you’d have to play with your particular piece to see how it reacts. It tends to be soft for bracers tho.

Please read through this thread before you laser leather: All about leather

It has a lot of good information about tannages that is important to know, both for quality results and for safety.