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.
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.