Definition of Burnishing

Burnishing is a leatherworking technique that involves rubbing the surface of leather with a burnishing tool or bone folder to create a smooth and polished edge.

This process compresses the fibers of the leather to create a tight and durable edge that’s resistant to fraying or unraveling.

Burnishing is used on a variety of leather products such as belts, wallets, and bags to give them a professional and finished look.

Here are the steps to burnishing:

  1. The leather is cut to the desired size and shape, then the edges are beveled to a 45-degree angle using a leather skiving knife. This creates a smooth and tapered edge that will be easier to burnish.
  2. The edges are moistened with water or a burnishing agent to help soften the fibers and make them more pliable. This step is important because it allows the fibers to be compressed and smoothed during the burnishing process.
  3. A burnishing tool or bone folder is used to rub the edge of the leather in a back-and-forth motion while applying pressure to compress and smooth the fibers. This can be done by hand or with a rotary tool or drill press.
  4. Friction is applied to the edge of the leather using a canvas or denim cloth to create heat and further compress the fibers. This step helps to polish the edge and make it even smoother.
  5. Wax or leather balm is applied to the edge of the leather to further seal and protect it from moisture and wear. This also adds a glossy finish to the edge.

American Bench Craft belts are burnished to give them a smooth and durable edge. Additionally, we’ve left the inner side of the belts unfinished to give them a rugged, natural look.

Burnishing is a simple but effective way to enhance the look and durability of your leather products and you can customize it to achieve different levels of shine and finish.

With a little practice and patience, you can master the art of burnishing and add a professional touch to your leather projects.

Here are some of the benefits of burnishing:

Benefit Description Example
Smooth Edge Burnishing creates a smooth and polished edge on leather products, enhancing their appearance Burnished belt edges
Durability The compressed and smoothed fibers result in a tight and durable edge resistant to fraying Long-lasting wallet edges
Professional Look Burnishing adds a professional and finished look to leather items, giving them a high-quality finish Polished bag edges
Customizable The level of shine and finish achieved through burnishing can be customized to suit preferences Matte or glossy burnished edges
Moisture Protection Applying wax or leather balm during burnishing helps seal and protect the edge from moisture Water-resistant belt edges

Example of Burnishing in a sentence

“After dyeing the belt’s edges, the artisan burnished them with a special tool.”


Polish, shine, buff.

Related terms for Burnishing