My Pursuit of Glass Edges in Leather Craft

When I started leather craft, I began to learn and study everything I could about the craft in an effort to get good quickly. Early on, I focused hard on saddle stitching. I would punch holes in leather scraps and stitch them together when I wasn’t actually trying to make something. As I became proficient at stitching, I started to focus on leather edges. This is around the time I came across “glass edges”.

I’m not entirely sure whose video I was watching the first time I saw a glass edge, but I do remember being mesmerized. How the hell can leather have a mirror finish?

I set out trying to attain the glass edge without much direction. I’d go through my grits and sand a bit longer than normal, add some Tokonole, and be disappointed with the results. It’s not that these attempts were bad, it’s just that glass edges they were not. Not even close, in fact.

I needed to do more research. The problem was, there was very little information out there and most of it was simply “it’s all in the sanding” or “just finish with beeswax”.

Yes, it’s all in the sanding. No, you don’t finish with wax.


So What is a Glass Edge? 

I’m assuming you’ve already watched my video but if not, the glass edge is the result of burnishing your leather edges until they have a mirror-like finish. I’ve seen it called a glass edge, candy edge, glossy edge, mirror edge… It really doesn’t matter. Point is it is as burnished as you can get leather (as far as I’m aware), it’s a skill that is impressive and sought after by leather workers, and it represents hard work and experience in the craft. 

There’s a reason you don’t see brand new leather workers out there putting glass edges on wallets. They’re still working on the basics and have a long way to go. If you came across this video and you’re brand new to leather craft, maybe check out my beginner burnishing tutorial before jumping into this one.


I Can Handle it. What Do I need?

Getting a glass edge is more about technique than it is about fancy tools, but you still need a couple things (there are links to everything you need at the bottom of the article):

Leather to Burnish

Veg tanned leather is ideal. Shell cordovan is best. And to really show off the shine, make a wallet or something with super thick edges.


You should have this for basic leather burnishing anyway, but if you don’t, pick up a pack of assorted sandpapers from Amazon. They’re cheaper than getting them at a big box store and they give you grits from 220-3000.

Micro Mesh Sand Papers

These sandpapers go far beyond the normal stuff we use and take us up to 12000 grit.

Tokonole and a Grog Marker

I’m pretty sure this will not work using gum trag. Stick with Tokonole and do yourself a favour and get a Grog Marker. I have a video about why you need one.

Canvas Cloth

Use this instead of your wood slicker. This will get a better edge here.


How to Burnish a Glass Edge

It’s honestly better if you watch the video but to summarize, here’s what you do:

  1. Start with a flat edge on your leather
  2. Sand with 120
  3. Sand with 220
  4. Sand with 320
  5. Sand with 400
  6. Sand with 600
  7. Bevel edges
  8. Sand with 800
  9. Apply first coat of Tokonole
  10. Burnish with canvas
  11. Apply second coat of Tokonole
  12. Burnish again
  13. Sand with 1000
  14. Apply Tokonole and burnish
  15. Sand with 1200
  16. Apply Tokonole and burnish
  17. Sand with 1500
  18. Apply Tokonole and burnish
  19. Sand with 2000
  20. Apply Tokonole and burnish
  21. Sand with 3000
  22. Apply Tokonole and burnish
  23. Sand with 3200 Micro Mesh
  24. Buff with canvas
  25. Sand with 3400 Micro Mesh
  26. Buff with canvas
  27. Sand with 3600 Micro Mesh
  28. Buff with canvas
  29. Sand with 4000 Micro Mesh
  30. Buff with canvas
  31. Sand with 6000 Micro Mesh
  32. Buff with canvas
  33. Sand with 8000 Micro Mesh
  34. Buff with canvas
  35. Sand with 12000 Micro Mesh
  36. Final buff with canvas


That’s a Hell of a Lot of Work for a Leather Edge

Yes it is.

Is it worth it? That’s up to you. It is a cool skill to have in your back pocket though.


Go Give it a Shot

If you do try it, shoot a video of the shine and tag me in it. I’d love to see how it works for you!


Glass Edge Shopping List



Add comment