The right finish to protect engraved leather coasters from water drips?

I’m making some engraved leather coasters, but I’ve no experience with leather. I know one can apply oils, conditioners, various types of finish… do you have any advice specifically for the case of coasters that are probably going to get dripped on — especially if I don’t want the leather darkened?

I tried applying some acrylic finisher (from Amazon), but I didn’t like how much it darkened the leather.

I also sampled the Proofgrade leather, which feels like it might have some kind of finish already applied. Will that suffice, or will whatever protection it offers be destroyed by the laser?

That’s the tricky part. Lots of oils or waxes will darken the leather when applied.

Something like sno-seal for example. It’s a wax paste that you work into the leather using elbow grease and heat. It works but the leather definitely darkens a bit during the process.


I should say, it’s not actually the color I care about per se. I care about the design being clearly visible, and it’s more visible on light-colored leather.

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Yeah, I hear ya. I know that people have had good success painting leather, but if you want it looking natural you’d probably want to start with a really blonde leather.

Some laserable fake leathers might be pretty water resistant? Maybe the saddle collection from Johnson Plastics? Depends on your needs, I could see wanting to stay with natural hide leathers.

If I were going to look into this I’d stop by my local Tandy location. The staff at my Tandy know a lot about leather, they may know a good product.


Resolene is the best thing I can think of for you.
It’s water resistant once dry and the least darkening finish but it will darken untreated veg tan a little. That’s the nature of unfinished veg tan, it’ll soak things up like a sponge.

Some people just do a buff with a polishing wheel to simulate natural patina and seal the pores but that won’t give you any water resistance.

To get the least darkening effect from Resolene - avoid soaking the leather. Put down the lightest first coat you can, preferably with an airbrush. Once that’s dry, further coats won’t soak in/darken but will build water resistance. 2-3 would be enough.

You could try to airbrush the finish you linked to, technically that product is meant to be a top coat to leather paints not bare or stained leather but Resolene is also an acrylic so it may behave the same way. .


I would consider saddle soap.


I see a comment in another thread from @deirdrebeth:

"Leather does well, it absorbs and then dries out without significantly changing shape. You can soak wax in, but then the water will bead off and get on your table ’

Does that argue that I needn’t do anything at all? (Totally ignorant here…)

I think I’m going with this, which seems to work OK with only a little bit of darkening:
one very light coat of 50% diluted Fiebing’s Acrylic Resolene, applied with cotton rag, followed by a second light coat after several hours.

The result has a somewhat plastic feel; the softness of the original leather surface is gone.



Have you tried Scotch Guard Spray? I always use it on my hiking boots, leather shoes and coats.


I haven’t, but I’ll make a note of that for future use. Thanks.


I’ll be interested to see how the leather ages with the coating. This is uncoated:

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