Tools & Wheels for Gilding & Embossing Leather

Updated February 21, 2017

Leatherwork is a trade that has been practised for thousands of years. Because leather is a malleable material, you can imprint your own designs onto it for a personal touch. If you will be gilding or embossing a patch of leather for a book cover, belt or other garment, there are a variety of unique tools that will help you achieve professional results.

Embossing Wheels

This simple tool is required for embossing stitching, borders or other patterns onto leather. The wheel is typically metal, with a raised pattern on its rolling edge. The wheel is attached to a handle, so the user can easily move it across the leather to form an unbroken pattern. Wheels are available in a variety of different designs and can fit onto any embossing handle.

Mallets & Punches

A mallet and punch are used to emboss a single insignia or stamp onto leather. A metal stamp, often consisting of lettering or a small logo, is placed onto the leather. A punch is placed over the stamp and a mallet is brought down upon it with force, resulting in a permanent embossment. Small mallets with heads of varying weights are available to emboss even the toughest leather.

Dyes, Glues & Finishes

For leather to be gilded, it must first be pretreated. A leather dye of an appropriate shade and an antique under-finish can be applied to the area that will be gilded. Light glue is also applied before the gilding material is set down. Lacquer is applied to the gilded area once finished. All of these materials can be found at a hardware or crafts store.

Gilding Materials

Gold leaf is the only material that produces true "gilt," although other metal alloy leaf can be used with the same process. A pair of square tweezers is helpful in placing the gold or metal alloy leaf into place on the leather, and artists' brushes allow detailed application of glue and finishes. A butter knife can be used to smooth and set the gold leaf once applied.

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About the Author

Brandon Getty began writing professionally in 2008, with columns appearing in "Thrasher" magazine. He received a Bachelor of Arts in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lives in Stockton, Calif.