How to Use Different Edge Treatments

There are many ways to finish edges on a project and all will help your projects have a more professional look. Here are some techniques and tools to achieve different edge treatments to accent and beautify your hard work. 

 

Edge Preparation: 

Trim Edges - This can be done with a craft knife, box or head knife depending on the size of your project. 

  • Carefully trim edges with a sharp craft knife blade on a cutting mat. 
  • Keep knives stropped using white rogue. 
  • Keep cuts as smooth as possible (not choppy). 

 

Bevel Edges - Edge bevelers are used to round and make edges more uniform. 

  • Available in different sizes for different weight leathers. 
  • Lightly dampen edge and carefully run the blade along the edge. 
  • Turn over and repeat on the other side of the edge. 

 

Sand Edges - For thick leather and multi-layers cemented together, after trimming and edge beveling, sand the edges until smooth. 

  • Sand edges starting with regular or wet or dry medium grit sandpaper. Progress to finer and finer grits. 
  • Move on to slicking, but go back to sanding if necessary. 

 

Slicking / Burnishing Edges: 

After edges are trimmed and smooth, use a slicker to polish / burnish the edge. Lightly dampen cut / beveled edge with water, then use your choice of slickers (shown below). This can be the final treatment or add color and a finish as shown below. 

  • Wood spindle slicker - Burnishes (darkens) edges. A variety of grooves will fit most leather weights. Either end can be used. 
  • Edge Creaser / Folder - Use head and/or base of tool to form and burnish dampened edges. 
  • Canvas - Use a small piece of clean canvas on a lightly dampened edge. Rub back and forth for a burnished, polished look. 

Beeswax: One of the oldest edge treatments still used today is the application of beeswax. Rub beeswax over edges. Then use a slicker to burnish the edges. This seals, waterproofs and creates a shiny edge. (If applying color to the edge, apply beeswax after color is dry.) 

 

Add A Color Seal / Finish: 

There are many ways to color edges: Use permanent dye pens, alcohol or oil-based edge dyes or acrylic-based edge paints. Edge finishes are formulated for edges so they are durable, non-cracking and fast drying. 

  • Apply 1 or 2 coats with an appropriate applicator. 
  • Pour a small amount of color into a separate palette or tray. 

Load your brush or applicator, but not too much

  • Hold project (edge to be colored) up. Apply color to edge in smooth strokes. 
  • Prop up off work surface to dry completely between coats. 
  • When dry, you can apply a final finish, such as beeswax described above or a clear acrylic protective finish such as Leather Sheen. 
  • Let finish drying completely before assembling the project. 

NOTE: Some projects will require assembly before you color and finish the edges.

Example: handbags or cases that have separate bottoms that attach to the body of the bag. Assemble, then sand, slick edges, add optional color to edges and then apply a protective finish. 

 

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