Leather Residue

I am engraving text onto leather and having a tough time with the burned areas rubbing off and ruining the leather. Any tips or tricks to clean this up?


Masking is your friend. For something small you can just use blue masking tape. If you’ll be doing bigger pieces or qty search the forum for tons of source suggestions.


I use tape but after I take it off and touch it/rub it, it smears. :frowning:

First…I have to ask…is that real leather? Doesn’t quite look like it. For your question though, I’ve struggled with cleaning flashback and little burned bits off my leather too…even when it’s masked. This morning in fact, I decided to put a bit of Dawn soap on it, scrub it very gently with a small brush, then rinse it off thoroughly and let it dry. So far, it looks like it worked.


In that case a couple things you can try (and each leather behaves differently so testing is in order)

BEFORE you remove the masking: try picking up the loose char with some other masking tape or seal the engraving with something like Leather Sheen.


If you are using a smooth grain leather (not suede or splits) - finish and seal it first before engraving and you should be able to wipe the soot off cleanly.

As @Xabbess says, it’s very important in a laser cutter to make sure you’re using real leather. PVC based faux leathers can totally destroy the internals of the laser cutter in just a cut or two.


Rubbing alcohol works well on leather. It will dry it out some. I use Neetsfoot oil to restore it but it will darken the leather.


Good to know…hadn’t tried that, yet. Thanks.

I usually use a soft toothbrush to get as much of the sooty residue off as possible prior to unmasking. Then I just deal with it afterwards. It hardly ever gets it all off. I haven’t tried rubbing alcohol either–gonna try that next time I do leather.


I have some leather sealer I bought at Tandy, to eliminate the char from scaling off when contacted (it also seems to pat down the fuzz on the backside.
I also seal any wood projects with engraves on them, especially so if they will be handled a lot.


What do you use to mask? And where do you buy it? I’m hesitant to buy because I’m worried it would be the wrong thing.

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This is the product I use. The last batch I ordered was not very tacky and I had to apply Elmer’s glue to stick to the paper. Shipping is fast and the price is good. You can order different widths. My orders are always 12 inches in width and 100 yard rolls.

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I came across this post while I was struggling with this same problem–I played around enough and good results that I thought made it worth reopening this convo.

I tried many of these suggestions with varying success, SO I decided to combine some of them and finally achieved the results I wanted!

As soon as my piece is complete, I rub some liquid leather cleaner on the engraved and cut spots. Then, with cool water I wet the piece down and rub with a soft toothbrush. Once all the soot seems gone I rinse it and clean one more time, making sure to rub all the cut edges with the toothbrush (I just do this work in the sink). Once it is dry, I rub leather conditioner into the piece and it looks almost perfect!


Welcome to the forum.

Thanks for sharing your process with us. I look forward to seeing some of your leather projects.