How to Burnish Soft Leather

Soft leather can be a beautiful material but also quite fragile. If you have ever tried to burnish soft leather, you may have found that it is not as easy as working with tougher hide materials. However, with the right techniques and tools, it’s manageable and burns stunning results with a professional finish.

How to Burnish Soft Leather

In this blog post, we’re going to break down how to burnish soft leather step-by-step and provide some tips from the experts on what works best for different types of projects. Read on for all the advice you will need in order to perfect your next soft leather craft!

10 Best Ways on How to Burnish Soft Leather

1 .  Use Dry Leather

This is essential to ensure that the leather does not become overly soft and pliable when you are burnishing. Start with dry leather and ensure no oils or water have been used on it. If you have oil or water on the leather, you can fix it with a dry cloth. Never try to burnish soft leather when it’s wet. If it’s wet, you can cause damage to the leather surface.

2. Prep Before Burnishing 

Before you start burnishing soft leather, it’s important to pre-prepare the material for the job at hand. For example, sand any ridges or bumps with fine-grit sandpaper and ensure the edges are even before burnishing. This will ensure that the finished product looks professional and has a clean finish and sleek edges.

3. Choose the Right Tools

You will need burnishing tools to perfect the job, such as a burnisher, sandpaper, and leather conditioner or polish. The burnisher should be made from hardwood or horn for best results. It’s also important to have a smooth surface so that it doesn’t snag or fray the leather. The burnisher can be used to smooth out the leather and give it a nice polished look.

4. Start With Pressure

Apply pressure in the same direction as you are burnishing, using the flat edge of the burnisher against the soft leather. Make sure to apply sufficient pressure but not too much, as this could cause damage to your material.

Move gently and slowly at first until the leather has become properly burnished. Once it is properly burnished, you can increase pressure to achieve the desired results. Use circular motions with the burnisher at that time to give a more polished look.

5. Apply Heat

If your soft leather is particularly difficult to work with, then you may want to apply some heat. By doing so, you can make it a bit softer and easier to manipulate. Use a hot air gun or an iron on the lowest setting to do this safely. Make sure to use a cloth between the leather and the heat source to protect it from any damage. Keep your hot air gun or iron at a distance from the leather, and make sure to keep moving it around so you don’t focus the heat in one spot for too long.

You May Want to Apply Some Heat

6. Buff and Shine

Once you have achieved the desired finish, it’s time to buff and shine your soft leather. Use a clean cloth or chamois and gently rub the leather with small circles in order to create a glossy and professional look. This will help protect the leather from dirt and water and give it a polished finish.

7. Add a Protective Layer

Finally, you want to add a protective layer to your soft leather. This can be done using a leather conditioner or polish, which will help keep the material in top condition for years. Gently apply the product with a cloth and leave it for a few minutes before buffing off any excess.

Burnishing soft leather is not as intimidating as it may seem; with the right techniques and tools, it’s manageable and can produce stunning results with a professional finish. Follow these steps to burnish your own soft leather projects with ease!

8. Use Leather Conditioner

After burnishing soft leather, you can apply a leather conditioner over the entire surface in order to nourish and protect your material. This will help ensure the leather remains soft and supple for longer. The leather conditioner also gives the leather a nice sheen and will help ensure it doesn’t become dry or cracked.

So it’s important to use it after burnishing. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions on the leather conditioner you are using in order to get the best results. Careful application of a quality conditioner will help keep your soft leather looking and feeling great for years to come!

9. Store Properly 

Once you’ve finished burnishing and conditioning your soft leather, make sure to store it properly. Leather is a natural material and can be susceptible to damage from humid climates or dirt and dust accumulation.

Make sure to keep your leather in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. If you need to store it for longer periods of time, wrap it in a breathable material and keep it in an airtight container. Proper storage of your soft leather will help ensure that it stays looking its best!

Make Sure to Keep
Leather in a Cool

10 . Rubbing the Edges With Hard Objects

The final step in burnishing soft leather is to rub the edges with a hard object. This helps seal and protect the surface of the leather, giving it an even more polished look.

You can use anything from a spoon to a toothpick for this step; just make sure that you don’t press too hard, as this could cause damage to the leather. Rub the edges in a circular motion until you’ve achieved the desired finish and your soft leather is ready to use!

Burnishing soft leather can be tricky, but it’s manageable with the right techniques and tools. Follow these ten ways for a professional finish that will help keep your leather looking great for years to come!

Things to Avoid During Burnishing Soft Leather

1. Using Too Much Heat for an Extended Period of Time

Too much heat can cause the leather to become brittle and prone to cracking. Always use a low-heat setting on your hot air gun or iron, and keep it at a safe distance from the leather.

2. Not Testing on a Small, Unseen Area

Before burnishing any leather project, it’s important to test the method and heat settings on a small, unseen area of the material. This ensures that the heat isn’t too high or that the process won’t cause any discoloration or unwanted marks.

3. Using the Wrong Type of Tool

Using a clean cloth or chamois instead of a brush is best when burnishing soft leather. Brushes can leave marks and scuffs on the material that are difficult to remove, so keep them away from your project!

When Burnishing Soft Leather

4. Working Too Quickly

Burnishing soft leather takes patience and practice. Don’t rush the process or you may end up with a poor result. Work slowly but steadily, using light pressure and low heat to achieve the desired finish.

5. Not Taking Breaks

Burnishing is a labor-intensive task that requires concentration and sustained effort. Avoid burnout by taking breaks and allowing yourself time to rest. This will help ensure that you work efficiently and achieve the best possible results.

6. Using Too Much Pressure

Burnishing should be done with light pressure and an even, steady motion. Too much pressure can damage the leather or cause uneven results. Take your time and apply just enough pressure to get a good finish without causing any harm to the material.

7. Not Cleaning Properly

Before burnishing, ensure the leather is thoroughly cleaned and free of dirt, dust, or debris. Any particles left on the surface can cause scratches or marks on the finished product. It’s also important to clean your tools after use to prevent any dirt or oils from transferring to future projects.

Burnishing soft leather can be a time-consuming process, but with patience and practice, you’ll be able to achieve beautiful results. Just remember to go slowly, use the right tools, test on a small area, and keep your heat setting low in order to avoid damaging the leather. With these tips in mind, you should have no problem burnishing soft leather like a pro!

Ensure the Leather is Thoroughly Cleaned


Learning of burnish soft leather is a great way to give your leather goods a glossy sheen and elevate them from functional accessories to stylish fashion pieces. Not only will taking the time to burnish your own leather give it a luxurious look, but you can also count on it having better wear resistance and improved longevity.

Whether you want to spruce up old belongings or add some vivacity to new items, knowing how to burnish soft leather can help turn any item into a luxury one. With the tips outlined above, you’ll be able to turn old handbags and wallets into sleek, eye-catching surfaces that have even greater durability. So get out there and start making your leather look its best!

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Matt Clark

Hi, this is Matt, and I am a leathercraft hobbyist. I have been working with leather for quite a bit of time. When I was a teenager, my father taught me the basics of leathercraft. Along the way I have learned a lot of things about leather work leather items, restoring leather, and creating leather accessories. I started this blog to share my knowledge of leatherworking with others and help people learn about this amazing craft. I also wanted to create a community of like-minded people who could share ideas and support each other in their leatherworking journey.

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