Glossing – Leather Crafts

Finishing Leather: Glossing

Gloss, also called finish, is applied to protect and preserve the appearance of vegetable-tanned leather. While glossing is optional for natural leather surfaces, gloss should always be applied to oil-dyed leather to prevent the dye from rubbing off.


Vegetable-tanned leather

Leather gloss


Latex gloves

Clean rags

Newspaper or butcher paper (optional)

1 Set up the work surface. If you need to keep your work surface clean, lay down a double layer of newspaper or a sheet of thick butcher paper. Assemble all the materials and tools so they are within reach.

2 Put on gloves. Put on work gloves to keep your hands clean from the finish and to protect the leather from the oils in your hands.

3 Apply gloss. Tip a small amount of finish onto a clean rag. Apply lightly to the grain surface of the leather in small, quick, repetitive circles, moving from the upper-left corner of the leather to the bottom right. When necessary, add more gloss to the rag.

4 Allow to dry. Allow gloss to dry for at least 1 to 2 hours, or overnight if possible.

5 Apply second coat. If you want a glossier finish, repeat the application of finish in Step 3, allowing the finish to dry thoroughly before each application.

Finishes come in a wide variety of styles and brand names, but they can be loosely categorized as resin, lacquer, and liquid wax finishes. Fiebing’s Bag-Kote is a good place to begin. It is a resin finish, easy to apply, and creates a soft, satiny luster.