Two questions for leather engravers

I sand off the char and then burnish my edges. You’ll definitely need to condition and seal the leather for it to hold up well. I’m still learning, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but I like mink oil for conditioning. I’ve finished some things with Kiwi shoe polish, which is kind of waxy, so might be protective against moisture, but since you’re selling stuff commercially, I’d ask at someplace like Tandy what they recommend.


I keep a bin of coarse salt handy. I like the kosher salt. I put the leather pieces in it and shake them around for a while. It helps kill the smell and gets rid of most of the soot. If your doing production work, maybe some type off tumbler with large amounts of salt would be more efficient.


Mask it with like a tape like the GF leather comes with? Is it just masking tape in like a big roll?

Also, sander like with a wheel brush or something?

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I will have to try that, that’s interesting. especially for the smell

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Ive been meaning to get to a Tandy and see what they say. We have one close to town. Thank you, I will try the burnish and conditioning.


“Masking” in this instance is the stuff that comes on the PG stuff. Masking tape is thicker, and WAY more expensive. Check #2 here for a guide:


I’ve been using a belt sander, and as for masking, yes the stuff that comes on PG stuff. The comment above this one has a great answer for the masking.


Another option if you want to avoid the charred look/ smell is to stamp the leather instead. You can use the Glowforge to make your leather stamps, which give a beautiful embossed look.


I haven’t tried that yet but always curious when seeing that stamp button. I will try it soon though. I was planning on doing both or like a limited edition stamped line type of thing.

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I have been thinking of somelt I want to make. Can the GF cut 8-9 oz. leather?


If you’re using top grain leather (not suede) Resolene would give you some shine and a bit of water resistance. It’s an acrylic leather finish available at leather supplies and Amazon - can be brushed or airbrushed on.

Seconding @PhxFrge’s suggestion to use GF to make a stamp instead. It would alleviate many of your soot issues, look better, be more durable and take a lot less GF time. Engraving is slooooooooooow.


I am very concerned about this product. Is this chrome tanned leather? Please post a picture.

Do not put chrome tanned leather in your GF. Poisonous gas is released with engraving and cutting.

Only use vegetable tanned leather.

I do not mask my leather because masking tapes has a tendency to come off while engraving and cutting. This could lead to a fire in your GF.

I also always case my veg. tanned leather before engraving and cutting.

Please point us to your source for this.

You may find a search in the forum on “chrome tanned leather” willl provide some resources if you can’t find a credible source that supports your dire warning.

I’m not picking on you, but this is a subject that is rife with misinformation. Simply put you & your machine, if properly vented, are at no more risk of poisoning from chrome tanned leather than from many other commonly used materials including MDF and plywood.

New to leather people should not worry about being poisoned from lasering chrome tanned leather. The general preference for veggie tanned leather has to do with the resulting properties of the leather not because some magic in the tanning process makes it safe to burn. The same is true of chrome tanned leather - there are properties of chrome tanned leather that make it more suited for some projects than others.

BTW, brain tanned and oil tanned leather are also available and laserable with differing results.


Most of my recent projects have been on 7-8oz and there’s still headroom on the cut settings. I’d say ‘most likely.’




I’d say they should worry about it, but if they mitigate their risks by having better ventilation than what the Glowforge comes equipped with, then they can worry less, but it should still be something they’re aware of. You mentioned proper ventilation, but again, your average user wouldn’t know what that consists of.

Common sense to one person isn’t necessarily common to everybody, especially when diving into a field that is entirely new to some. If people want to risk their health and safety then that’s up to them, surely, but better to be on the side of caution I say.

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But scaring them with unfounded assertions of danger isn’t going to lead to knowledge, understanding or common sense.

In fact, lousy ventilation is more likely to cause you problems with plywood (formaldehyde artifacts) than chromium byproducts. The chromium compounds used in tanning skins is pretty locked up chemically.

For some reason uninformed people associate chrome tanned leather with chlorine or cyanide and think they’re gonna die. They don’t realize how much exposure they (or their machine) has to those compounds through other materials. The trace amounts are just that, trace.

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Lots of articles all through the Internet. Chrome tanned leather is extremely toxic.\zyfiles\Index%20Data\76thru80\Txt\00000025\910185O2.txt&User=ANONYMOUS&Password=anonymous&SortMethod=h|-&MaximumDocuments=1&FuzzyDegree=0&ImageQuality=r75g8/r75g8/x150y150g16/i425&Display=hpfr&DefSeekPage=x&SearchBack=ZyActionL&Back=ZyActionS&BackDesc=Results%20page&MaximumPages=1&ZyEntry=1&SeekPage=x&ZyPURL

I’m not a scientist, so may not fully understand the referenced articles, especially the PMC report, but in reading them there does not seem to be any relevance to laser cutting/engraving of chrome-tanned leather. The first two apparently deal with chrome-tanned leather contact with skin, while the third deals with waste products resulting from the chrome tanning process. From what I understand, of the two types of chromium found in leather, Cr(III) seems to be basically non-toxic, but Cr(VI) is certainly toxic and a carcinogen. The problem is, the articles don’t describe how a laser effects either of the chrome components of chrome-tanned leather and in what amount.


Also know as hexavalent chromium - it’s released upon burning chrome tanned leathers such as in laser cutting or laser engraving. The amount varies depending on many factors. The cautious leather laserers prefer to avoid breathing it altogether.

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