Leather executive wallet

I have only had one evening with my Glowforge so far. I made the ruler then a puzzle and went full bore into a leather wallet.

Since I live in Tampa and work in aviation I made my wallet with the local aviation sectional chart. I am happy with the project but had a few issues that perhaps I can get advice on.

  1. Leather stinks! The Glowforge seems to leak a bit. I added foam to areas I could to seal off the leaks and upgraded to better hose clamps which helped with the cutting but my wallet has that smell and it’s like repellent for my wife.

  2. I need to work on my photoshop skills. I desaturated the photo and messed with the curves but still found some parts of the map seem muted or just blurry together. I etched directly onto this leather and used the top setting

    which I believe was called draft 2d. Is there a way to have preset adjustments in photoshop if I decide to make more of these but for different areas? Basically, I would modify the same map but want to ensure they look consistent from wallet to wallet.

  3. Leather should be treated right? Should I have tanned this? Is there a way to remove the burnt smell from it, maybe bring back that new leather smell?

  4. This was the executive wallet design on the catalogue. It’s a nice wallet but already half a inch thick. It also took me a while to sew it together. It didn’t help that I put the pockets on upside down and had to remove them. If you get this design plan a good 4 hours for assembly. It says 2-4. My goal was to make a wallet and see how it went. I did that. Now I’m going to design my own. Any tips from your experience would be appreciated.


Very nice! What are the bubble shapes on the map? Elevation?


Nice job! We haven’t tried leather yet. Just haven’t thought of a project for it yet.

I don’t have an answer for your odor question, just wanted to say you did a fantastic job on the wallet. Stitching is not easy and it looks like you nailed it!

Haven’t tried this myself, but I’ve seen a few articles recommend using a non-abrasive orange hand cleaner, and a toothbrush: http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-LASER-CUT-LEATHER-HOLSTER-FOR-YOUR-PISTOL/


There have been various posts about using vinegar or soapy water or fast orange for clean-up to get rid of the smell.

You might also want to look at this post:

Ok, I’m going to reveal my deepest, darkest glowforge secret. I was having a terrible time with venting. I couldn’t get everything sealed up enough to stop smells as much as I wanted. I enlisted my engineer sister to help me. She designed a better window vent than I had, and I carefully taped everything with metal foil tape stuff that cut me twice. But I was still getting enough fumes to make my room smell more than wanted and kind of give me a headache.

And then I noticed a very slight, cold draft by the window. And discovered that my window was designed by someone with as much attention to detail as I have. Because when the window is open, theres a 2-3 inch gap (depth-wise) between the top window half and the bottom.

So… 2 design iterations later and all id managed to do was vent everything outside… right under a large gap. I’m totally blaming it on being short and not being able to see it. I taped that up without managing to cut myself (I probably need to go back and insulate it or something, too). But problem solved.

So, just be sure you check around for possible leaks, not just the venting hose and connections (which I also taped, because I can’t with those clamp things).

Oh, and we found a heavy plastic blast gate leaked way less than the fancy metal one I originally bought.


The map is an aviation map called a sectional, the bubble shapes show airspace around airports.


Nice looking wallet. As far as the tanning, I’m sure it is already tanned. But you could seal it with something…I’ve seen lots of people use a carnuba wax substance and polish it into the leather.

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To get rid of the burnt hair smell I keep a ziplock bag of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and a toothbrush nearby. When the piece comes out of the glow forge, place it in the bag and brush vigorously with the tooth brush for a minute or so, shake and brush off as much soda as possible, then wipe with a lint-free damp (not overly wet) cloth. The idea is that it should be damp enough to remove any powder left but not so damp that it gets the leather wet. You can do this before or after removing the making. It will have a slight residual smell that will dissipate within 24 hrs. You’ll want to stain and seal the leather with an appropriate product as well. I like the water based antique stains myself.


By definition it has already been tanned. There are leather conditioners, but they aren’t required. If you’re not having an issue with the engrave smearing sooty-animal-skin all over, then I think this part of your questions has transitioned from lasering-leather to leather work best practices. There are some leather workers here, but some Internet research and using a leather worker forum would probably be of the most benefit. Nice work by the way.

Leather stinks. No matter what you do it will be stinky when being cut and etched by a laser. I have tried a few things and best results have come through just leaving it in a well ventilated. open space for a few days. Eventually, the natural leather smell will return and the burnt flavor will disappear.

Looks like you used a veg tan leather - perfect. No finishing necessary. Over time the oil from your hands will darken and soften the leather, giving it a nice patina.

One piece of design advice I can share is with your hole spacing. You can use larger holes and increase the gap space to save time in stitching. g/l

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I can’t imagine the colors of jealousy I am displaying right about now. one of the main things I wanted to do with BEAMER when he landed was to make a new wallet. well we ended up getting a new house and that project is on the back burner as Beamer rests very lonely in our dining room prior to his move upstairs. GRRRR

looks great! I grew up in Clearwater and my folks and rest of my family are still in the area!

so I will continue to use my falling apart wallet and pine for the day I can make a new one. LOL


Thank you for all the input. The smell has gone down a little already. I’m getting tons of compliments on it. Very cool project and well worth the time it took to make.

You can sometimes get interesting effects on leather using a furniture-refinishing type stripper and a relatively soft steel wool. Experiment first, of course, but you may find it tones down the laser marks. Finish it with shellac and/or wax.

Since my Glowforge filter is backordered a extra six months, I bought a commercial one that will move up to 500cfm to help the Glowforge’s 200cfm and make all the leaks go the other direction. If the carbon filters will take out the smell is another matter but I hope so.

As I am also in Tampa please pm me as there is much more can be done in person directly.

Hi! Where in Tampa are you? I’m actually in Apollo Beach but I work at the Tampa Airport so I’m always heading there.

I’m curious as to what filter you bought. My window adaptor isn’t the greatest but I have plans to tweak it some but just haven’t got the time yet. I’m still getting myself up to speed on designing things to cut and fine tuning the Glowforge.

I’m curious what you have going and what your plans are.


I am in Temple Terrace near I-75 - Fowler exit.
I have many years working in vector graphics, and the magic email day is Feb 7 as of today but I have a lot of getting ready to do, as well more design ideas than I will ever get a chance to execute.
I got the filter from Amazon in a couple of days that was more filter than I had expected and so am needing to figure out how to connect it. The intake is 10 inches diameter and the exhaust is six inches so I will be needing some sort of interface to make up the difference. I made an ideal design in Blender but it would take a 14inch bed 3d printer and a lot of PLA to do that one.

We really should get a Tampa area group going if it has not started already.

Woah! I’m even more impressed. That’s really neat.

I made the same wallet, and yes, right after ‘lasering’ it smelt like burnt hair! I left it alone for a week (in a well ventilated room we rarely use) and the smell went away over time.