Burnishing means to smooth and polish the leather, usually on the edge. Â We burnish the edges of belts to make them look better and make them slide into the belt loops easier. Â We also burnish the edges of note books, portfolios, scrapbooks, etc. Â So, what to do and how to do it?Â
If you have an edger, use it to ease the top and bottom edges of the belt or notebook. Â If you don't have an edger, use some 60 or 80 grit sand paper to sand the edges into a rounded shape. Â IF you want a smoother surface, Â use a finer grit. You can burnish an edge that is not rounded, but the rounded edge looks better. Dampen the edges with some plain water - use a sponge, spray bottle or a rag. Â Now rub the edges with something hard and smooth. Â Use an antler tine, a smooth piece of wood, a ball point pen, Â a bone folder, etc. Â (Many tools are available commercially). Â Continue to rub briskly the entire length of the item. Â Soon you will notice the edges getting smooth. Â If you have some saddle soap - either the cream or bar - rub some on the edges. Â Many people prefer saddle soap and water to just plain water. Â Now, use a piece of canvas, blue jean material, or other coarse cloth and dampen it and add some saddle soap. Â Rub very fast and hard along the edges. Â You will see a nice smooth edge develop.
The combination of heat from the friction and the pressure of rubbing will smooth the edge. Â There are lots of other lotions and potions people use. Â Try several and decide what you like. Â Many people use Gum Tragacanth in place of the saddle soap. Â I have had good luck with several of the "all in one" cleaners and polishers. Â
Now, wait until the edge is dry and then rub it with a bar of paraffin. Â Briskly rub the edge with a coarse cloth until it is smooth once more. Â The wax will keep the edge smooth longer than plain water or water and saddle soap. Â There are many other edge products available. Â Try some and remember to keep notes. If you want a dyed edge, use the dye before burnishing. Â The saddle soap and/or wax will make a dye job difficult, if you burnish before using dye.
NOTE: Â Don't work over a carpet!
Phew, lots of work, but wasn't it worth the effort? Â A plain, raw leather edge is fine in some cases, but a nice rounded and burnished edge makes your work look and feel more professional. Â And some people wonder why good leather artists charge the prices they do. Â This is only one example of the time and effort that goes into a fine piece of leather work.Â
Many Leather Workers use paint (usually Acrylics) to cover their edges. Â Often the first coat will raise some leather fibers. Lightly sand the painted edge with a fine grit paper and repaint. Â This will result in a colorful edge. Â Tandy has a new line of colored edge treatments by Fenice. Â They are certainly worth a try and many colors are available. Â No, Tandy doesn't pay me to say nice things about their stuff.