How to Engrave Leather: A Complete Guide [DIY Tips & Tricks]

You can use carving, pyrography, embossing, stamping, laser engraving, and other engraving methods to engrave leather products, such as a leather wallet.

Unlike other materials, leather has various advantages that make it special.

It’s strong, comfortable to wear, simple to shape into fantastic designs, and it just looks amazing by nature. As such, you can easily engrave leather with a few techniques.

Regardless of your level of craft experience, you can enjoy yourself making the finished product. Let’s get the lowdown on leather engraving!

How to Engrave Leather – Necessary Tools and Different Techniques

Engraving cellphone leather case

The process of engraving itself has several variations, and using different methods will give the piece of leather an entirely new appearance after its top layer has been engraved.

The versatility of the surface of the leather and its inherent beauty make it the ideal material for all kinds of engraving techniques with specialized tools for functional purposes.

Here is a breakdown of the seven most popular leather engraving techniques so that you may better understand what leather engraving is, how it looks, and what different tools do.

1. Carving

Personalizing leather products frequently uses the method of leather carving.

You must remove material from the leather surface throughout this operation.

A portion of the surface and the design are taken away during this subtractive process, giving the object a 3D appearance.

In contrast to the surrounding elevated areas, the carved areas on the leather surface appear sunken. Afterward, you can press, curve, or shape the leather’s surface to create designs.

Tools to Use

  • You can use a simple tool such as a ceramic swivel knife for carving. Most people who start engraving begin with this. Make sure the edge is sharp to cut the surface of the leather.

  • You can also use an engraving pen for this. It is an engraving tool that has different bits. To make the task simpler, it is powered by electric power.

  • Stamping tools can be used to contour, shade, and vary the surface as well. However, it is not necessary to have this tool when starting to carve.


  1. Clean the leather piece or product’s surface with a damp sponge before carving a design. The surface’s color will alter as a result.
  2. You will soon discover dry areas on the surface. Transfer the image of the pattern you want to carve onto the leather using a stylus.
  3. After that, incise the leather along the lines of the designed pattern using an engraving cutter or engraving tool.

2. Branding

Engraved leather with hammer and other tool for engraving

One of the simplest methods to engrave leather is undoubtedly branding leather. It is utilized to brand leather goods with custom lettering, like a leather wallet.

Branding leather involves pressing a hot metal object against the surface of the leather.

This is similar to how a farmer brands his livestock.

The burnt leather region is left with a darkened hue and a slightly sunken surface where the brand touched, making it stand out from the surrounding material.

Tools to Use

  • Using this method requires a branding iron. It has several temperature settings and uses electric heating to burn the stamp’s surface following the pattern.

  • Additionally, you may use your home’s toaster oven or a hot iron cannon to heat the surface of a standard metal stamp.

  • A pair of gloves is another item you should utilize while branding. These will offer security. As usual, a stylus is required for drawing.


  1. Depending on how dark you want the mark to be, heat the stamp or iron to the appropriate temperature. A more burnt appearance results from higher temperatures.
  2. Make use of a wet stamp to clean the leather surface. Then, mark the area or pattern you want to stamp with a stylus. You might have to repeat this.
  3. Use the hot stamp to apply pressure on the leather. Keep in mind that the design will become darker the longer you press.

3. Pyrography

Another way to engrave and decorate leather is through leather pyrography. But rather than using a stamp, it engraves by a sharper, more pointed instrument.

Electric heating is the most popular method for those just getting started with leather engraving.

It needs stencils and a certain burning instrument.

Although the fire risk is greatly reduced due to the smaller size of the tools, attention must be exercised when carefully burning the piece of leather.

Tools to Use

  • For leather pyrography, you must use a pyrography pen. Like an engraving pen, this compact, handheld iron tool is powered by electricity or a battery.

  • It’s also a good idea to burnish the surface before beginning the drawing process. The leather is smoothed and pressed with the aid of this instrument with a flat surface.


  1. Switch on the burning iron and wait for it to get warm. Adjust the temperature depending on how dark or light the burn mark is.
  2. Wet the surface and apply pressure with a burnisher to smooth the leather. If the leather gets too dry, rewet the area.
  3. Make a simple outline on the hide’s surface with a stylus. Then begin drawing with the pyrography pen. To darken some areas, press firmly and forcefully.

4. Laser Engraving

Modern techniques like laser engraving provide refinement and accuracy for engraving leather.

Laser engraving scorches the surface of the leather to create beautiful designs.

A laser machine prints the design on the leather using laser beams. A deep, black incision is made on the hide using a laser beam like a chisel.

Tools to Use

  • Laser engraving machines range from simple to sophisticated. For your DIY handicraft, a small laser machine would be ideal. A portable laser machine has many features.
  • The right software is essential to maximize the efficiency of a laser engraver. Check out our article on the best laser engraving software to know more.

  • Wearing a pair of tinted glasses for eye protection is necessary for laser engraving to be safe. The majority of DIY laser machines come with a pair included.


  1. Some modest assembly work may be required for your laser engraving machine. Read the instruction handbook. Know how to operate the equipment as well.
  2. Set the leather properly and place the laser device on the table. Activate the laser and let it etch the design onto the hide.

5. Emboss Leather Engraving

A combination of raised and recessed relief designs is produced on the surface of leather through the embossing process.

When you emboss leather, you imprint a design using a heavy steel plate or rolling wheel on leather. It can be done in color and doesn’t call for material burning.

It’s interesting to note that other engraving techniques, like carving, can also include the embossing process.

Tools to Use

  • Steel plates placed inside a cylinder tool are required for leather embossing. They are pressed onto the piece of leather. On its surface, the design is visible.

  • Also required is a texturing hammer. It is also a leather mallet, stamping hammer, or gunsmithing hammer. It is used to pressurize the stamp by striking it.


  1. Wet a sponge and apply it to the leather to begin the embossing process. Avoid getting it too wet, as the leather absorbs water easily and may distort the design if it’s too wet.
  2. Secure the leather to a sturdy surface.
  3. Put the stamp side down on the leather surface after placing your first stamp on the cylinder tool.
  4. Using a firm grip, hammer the other end of the cylinder with the mallet to push the seal into the leather. The depth of the leather embossing increases with how hard you strike.

6. Foiling

Foil printing on a leather

A distinctive method of color printing that uses colored foil is foiling or foil printing.

The process enables the surface of the hide to take on the color of the foil.

Using a thin color film or stamping foil to include color, also known as blind printing, is simple to blend with other engraving procedures to produce vibrant engravings on leather.

Tools to Use

  • To add color to the leather, you must use a foiling machine. These foils typically have a metallic finish to give the etched part a more opulent look.

  • Another option is a stamping pen. Like a carving or pyrography pen, it heats the tip using electricity or batteries. It helps transfer the color by applying it to the foil.


  1. Use the recommended app or software to transmit a design from a PC or phone to a foiling machine. Place the leather in the printer along with the foil.
  2. Draw the design on the shiny side of the foil while using a stamping pen. Place it on the hide, then trace the design’s lines with a heated pen tip.

7. Perforation

Leather piercing can result in some incredible designs, even though it is typically employed for practical rather than aesthetic reasons.

This method often entails drilling small holes into a piece of leather to increase its permeability. As such, you punch holes into it that are different sizes and shapes.

Tools to Use

  • Drive punches, for cosmetic reasons, are the preferred tool for perforation. The tips on some punching tools can be changed. These come in a variety of sizes and forms.

  • The pricking iron, which resembles a comb and has sharp fork-shaped points for numerous holes at once, is a common tool.


  1. Lightly scrub the hide’s surface. Avoid letting too much water penetrate the leather’s surface. Just enough moisture will facilitate simple picture transfer.
  2. Using a stylus, create a pattern, design, sketch, or other artwork on the hide. To create a guideline for various types of holes, you can experiment with various stylus tips.

8. Embroidery

Leather embroidering is the art of utilizing thread to weave designs onto the leather. It is undoubtedly distinct from other methods for engraving leather.

Using a strong needle, a sturdy surface, and your hands, you can perform this technique or use a sewing machine.

The ideal kind of leather for this method is soft leather.

You may quickly stitch a pattern into your jacket using this technique, which is also frequently used in the clothing manufacturing industry.

Tools to Use

  • You need the right needles if you want to embroider leather manually. To prevent bending, these ought to be robust and thick.

  • However, if machine sewing is more your thing, you’ll need a specialist leather sewing machine with certain software. Additionally, You should include leather needles.

  • For this, use sturdy threads like silk, polyester, etc. Additionally, you can make use of beads and sequins. To transfer the pattern, don’t forget the stylus.


  1. Clean the leather to smooth out the surface. You can also use a stabilizer for the same purpose.
  2. Draw the selected pattern on the hide with a stylus. If you wish to hand embroider it, you can make a guideline by punching holes with a needle.
  3. Begin the embroidery process while following the design. You can include additional ornaments in your design.
Leather brown wallet

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Got more questions about engraved leather? Here are our most frequently asked questions.

Can I Use a Laser Engraver for Leather?

Leather can indeed be laser engraved. Unlike other techniques, laser engraving provides precise and flawless cutting and engraving.

Additionally, you have creative freedom. You have the choice to create any pattern or design using laser engraving.

What’s the Difference Between Engraving and Embossing?

The two often used methods for material marking that produce distinctive designs are engraving and embossing.

While engraving requires a tool or laser to cut a design directly into the material, embossing uses a die set to press a design onto your chosen material.

What Other Materials Can I Engrave?

Materials including wood, paper, cork, and several types of polymers are among those that You can engrave. For more details, check out our article on the best laser engraver for wood.

Etching can be done on various materials, including glass, marble, stone, tile, wood, cardboard, aluminum, stainless steel, and plastic.

What Is the Best Leather for Engraving?

You can carve leather in various patterns, but only a specific kind of leather will be suitable for carving because not all leather preserves the carved shapes clearly after drying.

It is advisable to use full-grain or top-grain leather for most engraving techniques. That’s because it’s sturdy and unaffected by engraving processes. Full-grain leather is also effective.

Choose thin leather for embroidery and perforation. Always use leather that has been animal-tanned for natural hues.

Laser engraving is also an option for synthetic leather, including suede and faux leather.

Unfinished leather is the easiest to emboss, but with little effort, you can emboss finished or stained leather


These are some basic leather engraving techniques you should be aware of, whether you’re just browsing for information or want to try your hand at leather work.

Each has particular benefits and risks you should be aware of before experimenting. Still, they may all result in fantastic designs for various leather-based items.

One of the easiest items to engrave is a leather wallet. It is fashionable, personalized, and always visible to others to show off.

Enjoy yourself, take your time, and practice the skill that has captured your attention.

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