Leather Moisture Content Question

Hi Friends,

I started playing around with leather and found that the leather dries up/out quite a bit from lasering it.

The finished part looks great, but FEELS dried out. I can’t explain it better than that.

I was wondering to myself if it makes more sense to wet the leather BEFORE lasering so it doesn’t dry out as much during laser time OR to wet the leather immediately after to bring the moisture content back to what it was.

Before I go and experiment a whole lot, I figured I would tap into the collective brain power of this amazing group.




The moisture will absorb more energy. I don’t know how it will affect the result.

I haven’t noticed any drying out but I have been experimenting with soaking veg tanned leather. I put it in water until it stops fizzing then wipe it off. One interesting thing is that the edges of the cuts rise up a bit as I assume the water is turning into steam. Haven’t noticed any side effects when it drys out.

Soaking the leather reduces char a little bit and smoke quite a bit.

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I’m not a leatherworker, so I could be completely off-base :wink:, but I think that there are leather conditioners that could be used post-GF to moisturize and protect. @morganstanfield , any suggestions re zapping wet leather?

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I know what you mean Secret_Sauce, it does feel dry coming out of the laser. I do what dwardio suggests and clean with leather conditioner after I cut it. It really softens the leather up and helps makes it supple again. I made a few wallets this way and after a month or so of use, even the engraved areas are beautiful and supple.

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You are burning the leather, it’ll dry it out. If you wet it down before you burn it’ll affect the burn times and power.

Do what everyone else suggests and condition/oil the leather afterwards to re-add moisture. Leather is skin, skin likes oil to keep it supple.

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Not really–I haven’t forged much leather yet. I’m still working out the kinks with kerf on an wood marquetry order my hubs voluntold me for. :confused:
In general, though, you’ll want to condition or otherwise finish any veg-tan projects. It will keep them cleaner and softer.


You can use one of the purpose-bottled oils like neatsfoot, saddle soap, or gum tragacanth.


You can go cheap and use any normal skin lotion or even hair conditioner to recondition the leather. These will also allow you to cover up the burnt-leather smell if you use something scented.

I would advise against ‘edible’ oils like vegetable, canola, or sunflower.

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Never ever use something like vegetable, canola or sunflower oil on your leather, unless you like the smell of dirty shoe.

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I can have plez?

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I haven’t experimented much but there does seem to be a certain level of power that causes the leather to turn into carbon excessively. I’ve started using speed 130 and power 68. for 7-8 ounce leather. it takes about two passes to make a clean cut. add or subtract for other thickness.

Also noticed that it’s beneficial to let the leather sit after a Glowforge run. seems to become more flexible after sitting for a while. Most likely because of the heat it just absorbed.

Heat is basically an old fashion way of making leather more rigid.