How to Stiffen Leathers With Varnish

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Applying varnish to leather is one way to stiffen and seal it.
Applying varnish to leather is one way to stiffen and seal it. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Several methods of handling leather have developed over the years. You will find people boiling, drying and waxing the surface of the leather to make it have a stiffer texture. Although these methods have proven successful for some, it can also damage the leather if the procedure is executed improperly. A safer way to stiffen up your leather is to apply a couple layers of varnish. This stiffening method allows the leather to keep some flexibility without breaking or damaging the material. It also helps to seal the surface from the elements as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Washcloths
  • Paintbrush
  • Resin varnish
  • Fine grit sandpaper

Lay the leather on a flat surface.

Clean the surface with a clean, damp washcloth. Allow the leather to dry completely before proceeding.

Use a paintbrush to evenly distribute a layer of resin varnish to the surface of your leather. You must coat the entire surface in an even coat.

Allow the leather to dry according to the product instructions.

Use a fine grit sandpaper to prep the leather surface for the second coat of varnish. This will give the varnish a better surface to grab onto. Wipe the surface with a dry washcloth to remove any dust that may have occurred from this process.

Apply a second coat of varnish to the leather. Allow the varnish to dry.

Add more layers of varnish in the same manner if you want the leather stiffer.

Tips & Warnings

  • This leather stiffening method will not work well on waxed leather pieces. If you remove the wax first, it may be worth a try.

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