Best Leather Slickers For Leatherworking

It is very important for the leather products to have a smooth finish. Leather slickers are the best tools for this job. There are a lot of different kinds of leather slickers available on the market, depending on the price range, preferences, materials made, and other factors. Burnishing is a very important process in leatherworking, that is why we need to have the best leather slickers to do the job well.

What are the best leather slickers available? There are different kinds such as handheld edge slickers, made of either wood, plastic, brass, exotic wood, or glass, drill mounted burnishers, electric motor burnishers, and box slickers. These provide a quality finish to your leather products.

In this article, we will be discussing the different uses of leather slickers and why it is important to use them on any of your leather projects. We will also discuss the different types of leather slickers available on the market, together with some recommendations. Lastly, we will provide you with some pro tips in using a leather slicker in your leatherworking projects.

Different Uses of Leather Slickers

Used To Smoothen The Edges Of The Leather

Leather is a sensitive material to work on, especially if you are cutting it into pieces or sections. The edges fray easily because of its sensitivity to a lot of things. When you cut leather, the edges will show and the internal fibers are often loose as they stick out. These can easily absorb moisture, dirt, and grim. When they absorb those elements, it will be easy for them to push your leather towards decay if left like that. Thus we need to smoothen the edges so that it will not unravel and ultimately destroy the product.

Leather slickers, also called burnishers, are used to smoothen the edges after cutting. It is a handy tool that helps produce clean and finished edges on leather goods. It also ensures a finished leather product that can wear well and be durable.

It Makes Your Leather Products Last Longer

Once the leather starts fraying and you didn’t do anything about it, it will weaken the overall quality of the product. Smoothing the edges makes it hardened and stronger, which increases the durability of your leather product. Burnishers often come with differently-sized grooves that closely match the thickness of the leather being burnished.

To help ensure a finished leather product that can wear well and be durable, it is generally a good practice to smooth out, or burnish the edges well and properly. This process makes them hardened and strong.

It is also a measure of the leatherworker’s level of craftsmanship. Good leatherworkers burnish their products to make it last longer. It also makes your leather products look more sophisticated and professional.

Adds To The Overall Sense Of Durability

Since the edges are not frayed, the leather product will stay longer and you can use it for longer periods of time. It also keeps the leather safe from the natural elements such as moisture and rotting. After all, it is still made of animal hide and thus, it is still prone to rotting and decay.

Leather products with burnished or slicked edges are known to stay longer, due to the fact that there are no exposed edges for the natural elements to do its job of wreaking havoc to your beloved leather goods.

A leather product will stay durable and usable for a long period of time if taken cared of properly. However, it also helps when it is made well, with no exposed edges for the moisture to seep right into it and potentially ruin your beloved product.

The key to burnishing is how you generate and transfer heat from the leather slicker to the leather. When the edge leather fibers are heated, they join together and it gets smooth. The friction created by moving the burnisher back and forth makes this possible. When you choose the leather slicker that is perfect for you, you also have to keep in mind the different heat properties of that material where your leather slicker is made of.

When To Use Your Leather Slicker In Your Projects

Edge slickers, along with most burnishers, are most useful when working on new leather goods. Generally, that involves cutting and shaping the leather, where cutting it will leave fresh edges that will expose the leather fibers within the leather hide.

These exposed fibers should be eliminated in order for the finished piece to look good, while also treated in such a way as they provide a protective edge to the leather underneath. Hand burnishing is the way to go to achieve these results.

They usually come with differently-sized grooves. These are not just for aesthetic purposes, but also for matching the thickness of the leather being burnished. Leather slickers help round off the corners equally, leading to consistent results over time. Remember that when finding a perfect burnisher for you, you must find one that has the groove sizes that will be the most helpful to you.

Different Types of Leather Slickers

Three General Types Of Leather Slickers

Back then, canvas materials were enough to be used as tools for burnishing edges of the leather to make it smooth, nice, and professional-looking. Over the course of time, new forms of leather slickers have been developed to make the burnishing process much easier and faster. These new forms help save time and effort from the leather workers when they use it in their projects.

The first type is the hand burnisher. Also known as edge slicker, it is usually wooden but there are others made of glass and plastic. Usually, it has different sized ridges on them where the leather fits while you burnish.


It is a handheld tool you can rub on the edges of your projects, and a shiny glass layer can be noticed after using it for a few minutes. This type of leather slicker is widely preferred by most leathercrafters because of the price and its efficiency. To use it, you just have to move it back and forth over the leather using your hand. It generates heat through the friction and it changes the leather surface drastically.

Next is the drill mounted burnisher. This one provides the same results as the hand burnisher or edge slicker but it delivers much easier and faster, and no fatigue can be experienced when you are done using it. It is a specially designed burnisher mounted on a drill, making the whole process very mechanized. If you want to finish quicker in burnishing yet the quality is not compromised, use a drill mounted burnisher.

Source: Amazon

There are a lot of drill mounted burnishers available on the market, but there are ones that are recommended by a lot of leather workers in the industry. Dremel burnishers, priced at $47.97, is a multipurpose tool perfect for every craft project such as glass etching, leather burnishing, jewelry making, polishing, woodworking, and so on. It also boasts of its slim size, comfortable grip, variable speeds from 5000-22000 RPM for optimal speed control, and is also very quiet to use.

Lastly, we have motor burnishers. These are electronically powered devices you can bolt down to your workbench. It has a sanding drum and burnisher on either end, which can be used at home or a small studio as an industrial burnishing tool. Another plus when using this type of leather slicker is that it can do both sanding of the edges and then burnishing within a matter of seconds, making your work even time-saving. It can also be used on any length of leather items with zero stress. Just run the leather over the revolving burnishing part to use.


A widely recommended brand is the Vevor, which is priced at $189.99. It is a machine that will give your product edge the perfect quality, professional look in a matter of seconds or minutes. It is also suitable for all vegetable tanned leather products.

Types of Handheld Edge Slickers or Burnishers

In this article, we will focus more on handheld edge slickers since most leatherworkers recommend using this due to its price and the quality of the finished product after using this.

One of the types of handheld edge slickers are the plastic burnishers, generally the least expensive. Since it is made of plastic, it can get hot pretty quickly. Remember that burnishing too hot or quickly can burn the leather edge and leave unwanted marks on it. Weaver plastic slicker is a good recommended brand for plastic burnishers. Priced at $31.66, it can be used by hand or chucked in a drill for power slicking. It can also be used with gum tragacanth for beautiful and smoothed edges.

Another type is the wood burnisher. It is the most popular type, as the natural wood material on the natural leather material ends up having a good harmony to each other. Wood does not heat too quickly and the composition of the natural wood leaves a smooth result on slick leather edges.

Source: Amazon

BESTCYC makes the best wood burnishers, priced at $16.99. It is one of the most popular wooden leather slickers in Amazon, which features four grooves that accommodate leather edges of varying thickness, tapering to a point to finish holes and tight corners. This product is ideal for small curves that are often hard to reach.

More Durable Types Of Handheld Leather Slickers

There are also more durable types of handheld leather slickers. These are much higher in quality and are pricier compared to plastic and wooden burnishers available on the market. Regardless, they still produce the best results when used properly.

The first one is the brass burnisher. It is a durable type of leather slicker although it can retain a lot of heat, which is why you have to be careful when using brass or other metal slickers to avoid burning your leather edges and leaving marks on it. Brass burnishers can be very aesthetically pleasing, though they are a little heavier than wood or plastic. However,  if used on a leather burnisher machine, rotary tool, or bench grinder, it will not be much of an issue.

Source: Amazon

A prime recommendation for this is PSCCO, which is priced at $8.99 for 2 pieces. It is made of high quality brass material which is durable, made from exquisite technology, and it provides good luster. It can also be installed on the electric burnisher.

Another type are the glass burnishers. These are differently designed, shaped like a card compared to the others which are shaped like scrolls. The smooth surface makes it helpful to put a smoothed edge onto leather. One good thing about this type of leather slicker is that glass does not retain heat as quickly as brass or plastic, which is a safer choice to avoid burns on the edges. It is also used to smooth out entire grain sides of leather.


Leatherworkers have recommended Craftsha as their go-to glass burnisher.  It is priced at $16.98 a piece.

Next we have exotic wood burnishers. These are different from your usual wood burnishers since these are made from special woods such as cocobolo, paduk, vitae, ebony, pine, oak, maple, rosewood, among many others. NuCrafters is a good recommendation for this type of leather slicker. Priced at $10.95, it features four grooves that accommodate leather edges of varying thickness, tapering to a point to finish holes and tight corners. It is made of ebony, it has high-polished finishes, and is also thoughtfully shaped for easier grip and reduces hand fatigue.

Finally, we have box slickers, which are made of wood, and shaped into rectangular, solid blocks. They function the same way as other slickers, and it all depends on the feel of the leatherworker to make it work well.

Some Pro Tips in Using Leather Slickers

Here are some of the tips and tricks in using leather slickers, coming from the experts in leatherworking.

Be Consistent And Patient In Burnishing Your Leather

Turning the edges smooth takes time and effort. You cannot turn the edges smoother in just a couple of swipes unless it is a drill or powered by electricity. The general rule is the longer you work on it, the better it is going to look.

Remember to always burnish in the same direction regardless of the burnisher used. Never let hand fatigue change your direction because it will affect the overall look of the product. It will look uneven and it will just ruin the overall look of your leather product.

It takes consistency and patience in burnishing your leather. It may be tiring, but with the perseverance you have shown in burnishing the edges of your leather, you have just made the leather to last even longer because of its smoother edges than ever before.

Be Careful With Burnishing Using Liquids

It is also important to note that doing a water burnish on a vegetable-tanned leather is always a bit difficult due to the fact that it stains with the watermarks. To avoid this from happening and potentially ruining your product, simply use a neutral leather edge paint instead of burnishing and risking the watermarks on your project.

Also, both the wax burnish method and the gum tragacanth methods produce a finer edge compared to the water burnish. Choose carefully and wisely to avoid working too hard on something you will not be satisfied in the end.

Take Care Of Your Leather After Burnishing

Finish off by running a piece of canvas cloth over the leather edge to remove any bits and pieces of extra compounds. Doing this also gives the leather a nice high shine to it. Finish your burnishing with some kind of a top finish on the edges, which makes the leather more durable once burnishing is done. Finishing off your leather project properly makes it last even longer than expected, so do not take finishing stages lightly as it can totally affect the entire outcome of your product.


Burnishing is an important process to keep the quality of your leather products higher. It helps you achieve that smooth and professional-looking finish on your leather projects. It also gives the leather a glossy shine that can make it look pleasing to the eye. There are a lot of different kinds of leather slickers available on the market, ranging from the handheld ones made of wood, plastic, glass, and even brass, down to other types which include electric types and ones used for industrial purposes. You do not have to spend a lot of money just trying to buy the best leather slicker. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the level of skill you have and how diligent you are in smoothing the edges of your leather.

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