Leather Questions

So I’ve been playing around with leather for a little while now. Love that I can laser cut it and make something with zero tools. I know this has been talked about before but I’m failing at searching so heres my question.

In the Glowforge campaign video what kind of leather is used to make the wallet? I like how flexible it looks!

We went to tandy leather and told them what we were doing. We left with some dye and a shoulder of 4/5 once tooling leather. It cuts great but its not flexible at all and super thick (almost an 1/8"). It makes a terrible wallet.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Maybe @dan can chime in and point me to what they used or maybe @morganstanfield (the queen of leather or so I’m told)


Just search LEATHER @markwarfel .
Several discussions on it. I am not planning on using it a lot but have picked up several clues as to good/bad, just from browsing the forum here.

examined proof grade items and also talked plus and minus of leather types.

Another one I enjoyed walking through is here:

Hope this helps


I personally would want 1-3 oz veg-tanned leather for a wallet. I used something like 4-5 oz on my ministry of magic passport cover and it was fine, but by time you’ve folded a wallet in half and added a pocket or two for cards, it gets thick fast.


I believe it’s thin natural leather:


It’s an English vegetable tanned kip leather; very flexible and soft. Takes dye and finish well, and looks great without it too. My wallet’s made of it and it gets compliments all the time.


Kangaroo leather is thin, strong and very supple


Thanks @brokendrum! I have poked around a bit but sometime I remember reading a post and can’t find my way back. I’m definitely going to have to re-read the all about leather thread.

Thanks for your help!

A ministry of magic passport?!?!? that sounds awesome. Yeah I was making a trifold wallet. The thing is almost 3/4" thick! just in leather!

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It looks like it was dyed before cutting? Is this possible? I mean laser safe? I wasn’t sure and being cautious I was dying after cutting. I have some of the medium Proofgrade leather and liked it - i’ll have to try the thin. The only thing I didn’t like was that it seemed to be an awkward size. I know you can’t answer this but I have to ask. Will it be available in bed size pieces eventually?


And it comes with a pocket!!!


Went to Tandy for a preview. It took a LOT of self-control not to walk out with $5K in leather. There were some extremely soft options, too. Can’t wait for my Pro and a little bit of time.


I’m with you…can’t wait for some leather projects.
Just be sure to read through some of threads about the different types of leather that laser well. If it is not veg tanned, supposedly it doesn’t work that well and some types just kind of melt, rather than cut.

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Well, the big issues are certain tanning chemicals in non-veg-tanned can interact badly with lasers, but there is also one set that does char/burn more than cut/engrave.

Chrome tanned leathers tend to char.


I believe it also emits highly toxic chemicals that are not only bad for your laser, but for your lungs and the earth as well. I could be wrong on that one - still have not tried chrome tan BC of the early discouragement here. There has been a fair bit of discussion on the subject, but no conclusive answers that I’m aware of. Here are a couple of those threads:

Those comments were enough to give me pause. Though I do see laser cut garment leather out there, so I assume that it has to be possible. Not knowing what tannage they’ve used (chrome tan? oil tan?) I’m wary of experimenting, but would love a definitive answer on this one. Being able to use garment leather/soft leather would open up a LOT of possibilities.

If they don’t specify, it is most likely chrome tan as that is the cheapest to do. Veg or oil tanned will state. If in doubt, ask the seller.

Or do the burn or float test.

Chrome burns blue-green. Veg burns to a black/gray residue.

Stick a piece in boiling water - chrome will just float before going limp and veg will curl right up near instantly before limping out over time.


I’m moving this to Beyond the Manual, as the discussion has moved to evaluating safety of non-Proofgrade materials.

Sounds like you got a lot of good answers already. I’ll just reiterate that what you need is veg tan, and just a thinner version and/or from a different animal. I’m a huge fan of kangaroo leather for just about any use except tooling–it strong, doesn’t stretch out much, and is about as thin as heavy watercolor paper. Dan says it lasers like a dream.

Also, please don’t make any decisions about what leathers to laser based on what you see available as laser cut commercially. Some of those will actually be die-cut, and the rest may be cut under bad circumstances (source considers their laser and/or staff to be disposable).


Almost the entire stock at my local Tandy is chrome tanned.
They had one table of heavy thick veg-tanned, and then a few under the table options for thinner veg-tanned.
I put a bit in the laser before the current settings came out - crisped it up like crazy, and decided to wait a bit.
I should pull it out again; but I’m chicken of ruining such a pretty and expensive roll of hide.
I think there ought to be other sources beside Tandy for large sections; but I don’t know them.
A agree that I’d like proofgrade in larger pieces. I know leather isn’t like wood; bigger means more expensive in leather, whereas with wood you frequently get a per square foot similarity on the same kind of wood.


Take a look at both of these on Instagram:

Maverick Leather Company

Acadia Leather

I’ve ordered from Maverick Leather Co before and had a great experience. They sell a lot of leather and are great on the phone to chat and figure out exactly what you need. Plus, they run specials really often on their Instagram page.