Vegetable vs Smoked tanned leather?

Hello! I haven’t yet received my Glowforge Pro, I am wondering about how it performs with smoke-tanned (or brain-tanned) leather. Most commercially available leathers are vegetable or mineral tanned. The leathers I work with are produced by craftsmen using more traditional methods, and end up more similar to suede. Has anyone tried smoke tanned leather in a Glowforge, and if so, how did it compare with or behave in comparison with veg/mineral tanned leathers? If not, has anyone tried sueded leathers?


I’ve tried cutting and engraving both veg tan and veg tan splits with good success. Found a small scrap of brain tan in my studio the other day (LOL, it has to be at least 25 years old). If I can find it again, I’ll sacrifice a small piece to test a cut+ engrave.

Will warn you that I’m juggling a whole lot right now, so I might forget. If you don’t hear back by this weekend, please give me a gentle nudge/reminder :wink:


Just to follow up … I didn’t forget this request, I simply can’t find that scrap of brain tan again! :wink:


Thanks! I hope you find it!

Following up with this very late reply to let you know that I never did find that scrap of brain tan again. I suspect that I put it in a safe place :roll_eyes: If it ever pops up again, I’ll honor that offer to test it out. In the meantime, here’s a test that I ran on a scrap of veg tan split (which is basically veg tanned suede).

The mandala is about 4" around, and it uses another one of my friend Shala’s patterns (with her permission). It’s a thinner split - maybe 2-3 oz - and it was cut at least a month ago, before the power settings were dialed back a bit.

This same print done with today’s settings would likely come out a bit lighter - though I suspect that you’d still see this same slightly “blurry” effect, due to the shaggy grain of split leather or suede. I’m going to guess that brain tan would show a bit less of this blurring, since the grain tends to be a bit tighter and finer than most split leather and suede.

Annnd the charring at the top corner shows an edge that didn’t get masked :wink:

I know this isn’t exactly what you were asking for, but hopefully it helps to add a little more info for you to work with.