How to Make a Leather Inlay for a Desk

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A leather inlay instantly adds an expensive look to your desk.
A leather inlay instantly adds an expensive look to your desk. (Image: leather image by Andrii Oleksiienko from Fotolia.com)

Many expensive desks have leather inlays that bring sophistication and elegance to the desk. The inlays can be on the top, sides or work surface of the desk. Older desks may have cracked or damaged leather inlays that need replacement. If you are building a new desk, you can also add a leather inlay to make the desk appear older or more expensive. Adding the inlay is a simple process, but patience and care will produce the best results.

Things You'll Need

  • Putty knife
  • Adhesive remover
  • Work rags
  • Leather glue
  • Leather
  • Cutting wheel
  • Sewing machine
  • Leather needle
  • Thick thread
  • Leather glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Roller
  • Leather detail wheel
  • Gold leaf strips
  • Leather lacquer

Remove any existing leather from the desk using a putty knife. Clean up any remaining adhesive with an adhesive remover and work rags.

Cut a new piece of leather the same measurements as the depression in the desk or the original leather piece.

Add a strip of detail stitching 1/2 inch from the edge of the leather piece. Use a leather needle and thick thread on a standard sewing machine.

Cover the bottom of the depression in the desk with leather glue. Spread the glue with a paintbrush, making sure to spread the glue evenly over the bottom and sides of the area where you want to glue the leather.

Place the leather over the glue and press into place. Use a small roller to roll the leather from the middle toward the edges for a smooth and air-free fit. Wipe away any excess glue with a damp cloth.

Roll a leather detail wheel carefully around the edges of the leather to create a depression in the edges of the leather. This helps the leather look older and more sophisticated than if you leave the edges unfinished. Roll gold leaf strips into the detail depressions if desired.

Paint the surface of the leather with a leather-safe lacquer. This protects the detail work and makes the leather tougher. Allow the lacquer to dry for 24 hours before using the desk.

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