Crafting with leather is an inspirational thing. There’s something both nostalgic and animalistic about it, while also feeling luxurious and classy. For hardened crafters, it is no secret that working with leather is a hard job. A tough material with a lot of give, leather needs to be worked in a particular way for the best results.
That said, everyone needs to cut corners from time to time and employing leather glue can certainly ease up on all that stress. However, not all leather glues are made equal and a poor-quality glue will leave a sticky mess and poor results.
We’re here to present a guide that outlines the best leather glues out there and their pros and cons. That way, you won’t end up in a sticky situation!
Best Leather Glue Comparison Chart
E6000 237032 Craft Adhesive, 2 fl oz Clear
Gorilla Super Glue Gel, 20 g, Clear
Best Seller in Cyanoacrylate Adhesives
Aleene's 15594 Leather & Suede Glue 4oz
Best Seller in Cyanoacrylate Adhesives Runner Up
Gorilla 8040001 Clear Grip Contact Adhesive
Best Seller in Contact Cements
Fiebing's Leathercraft Cement, 4 oz - High Strength Bond for Leather Projects
Best Seller in Contact Cements Runner Up
What are the types of glues for leather?
When you’re looking for glues, you’re going to find that either contact adhesive or spray-on adhesive work best for leather. These differentiating names define how the glues are applied, not what is in them as such. The contact adhesive works by smearing a little of the glue on to the leather. Next, you smear a little on to the surface to which the leather is going to be stuck. You hold this for a few seconds as the glue fuses to itself, causing it to harden and stick.
Spray-on adhesive means you can more easily apply it by spraying both surfaces and holding them together. You need to make sure that you are spraying the adhesive at least three inches away from the surface, to ensure you get good coverage without blasting the leather.
That said, the type of glue you need specifically can depend on a few different factors. The material to which you are gluing your leather is a big point of contention. If you are gluing leather to wood, you may prefer a contact cement, whereas leather to leather adhesion can work with an all-purpose shoe adhesive substance.
When attaching leather to metal or plastic, you’re usually better with a contact cement, however, you must score the plastic or the metal using wire wool to give it a coarse surface. This allows the leather to stick more easily.
Choosing the Best Leather Glue
When you’re choosing the best glue for leather, you need to determine if it is the right glue for the job. First look at the instructions to determine whether this glue is good for both leather and the material to which you are sticking the leather.
When you’re shopping around for glue, however, this isn’t the only thing to look for as there are many types of glue that will cover the materials you are using. In this sense, how do you decide between them?
Firstly, most people look at the price. White leather glue isn’t expensive, while top-quality glues will cost a fraction more. These tend to be more adhesive, less annoyingly sticky to the skin, easy to work with, and hold their adhesion over time. You are looking for a glue which will be simple to use and will hold over a long period of time. Looking at reviews of products will help you to determine this for each of the glues you see.
Quick-drying glues are always easier to use as well. The problem with slow-drying glue is that it can collect dust and grime while it dries, the leather may move, and the glue may seep out the sides.
Equally, some leather glues have a tacky finish. If your glue has a tacky finish, it tends to collect dust over time.
Reviews of the Best Leather Glues
Best overall: E6000 237032 Craft Adhesive, 2 fl oz Clear
Made in the U.S.A., this adhesive is a cement that takes at least five minutes to dry. It is industrial-strength and can be used to adhere leather to ceramic, fabric, wood, glass, and metal. It is waterproof and non-flammable.
A great leather glue for rougher surfaces, this adhesive gives a five-minute adjustment window before taking a day or two to cure. It is easy to clean the excess off surfaces and skin and it holds very well as a versatile leather glue.
Best Seller in Cyanoacrylate Adhesives: Gorilla Super Glue Gel, 20 g, Clear
With a no-run gel formula, this easy-to-use glue is great for plastics, wood, metal, ceramic, rubber, paper, and fabric. It dries in 10-30 seconds are requires no clamping.
This powerful glue is a Cyanoacrylate adhesive, which accounts for the white powder when you apply excess glue. With careful control, this thick glue is a great solution for quick drying leather adhesion.
Best Seller in Cyanoacrylate Adhesives Runner Up: Aleene's 15594 Leather & Suede Glue 4oz
This product is specifically designed for leather and suede and sticks these materials to each other. Most often used for shoe repair, this can also be used on clothing and accessories. This is designed for products that are meant to be dry-cleaned only.
This glue is a quick fix to repair shoes and leather accessories. It works well for a few months and is a good value for the money. For best results, apply sparingly and clamp overnight.
Best Seller in Contact Cements: Gorilla 8040001 Clear Grip Contact Adhesive
This clear adhesive is very versatile, sticking leather to wood, ceramic, glass, paper, plastic, metal, and more. It is 100% waterproof and dries clear. It dries in seconds and is flexible after it has cured.
This flexible, strong-hold glue is great for quick fixes. While it is flexible, the problem is that it gets soft over time. This makes it a great product for soft leather repairs but not so great for harder materials like plastic and metal.
Best Seller in Contact Cements Runner Up: Fiebing's Leathercraft Cement, 4 oz - High Strength Bond for Leather Projects
This leather-crafting cement is designed for craft activities. It is water-based and very strong. It is also non-toxic and non-flammable.
This is a great crafting glue for leather which allows for quick drying and adjustments. It is an irritant so it isn’t safe for children, but it holds strong and firm and is an excellent value for the money.
Tips on Gluing Leather to Other Materials
Understanding how to glue leather is only half the battle, as the different material to which you may be sticking the leather to will determine your technique. Below is a list of a few tips for sticking leather to different kinds of fabrics and materials.
Score - Mark the plastic first as this creates a coarse surface. This increases surface area and friction and makes it easier for the leather to stick.
Clean and Dry - Make sure to clean the plastic with alcohol to remove all oils and grime. You also need to dry the plastic. This ensures the leather definitely sticks to the plastic and not debris or dirt.
Be Patient - Leather to plastic gluing can take up to four hours to dry so leave it to work its magic without interference.
Wipe With Dry Cloth - You want the material to be free of debris, otherwise, the glue sticks to the debris and not the fabric.
Dry is Key - The material must be dry otherwise the water will prevent the glue from sticking to both surfaces. Equally, you want the glue to soak into the fabric and water particles block the space for the glue if the material is wet.
Press for Two Minutes - When gluing, hold the fabrics together for two minutes as fabric can take a long time to dry.
Keep Off Surfaces - As the glue may seep out the fabric, don’t put it down on to other soft furnishings, otherwise, it may stick to unintended areas.
Keep it Clean - Like the other materials, always clean metal first. If it is rusty, try to remove as much of the rust dust as possible. Leather will adhere to rust but it may crumble off in the future.
Score it - Like the plastic, you need to mark the metal to give a coarse surface as leather struggles to stick to smooth, even surfaces.
Check for air - Air bubbles will cause the leather to peel away if the metal warms up in the summer. The air expands inside the bubble and pushes the glue outward. Make sure to squeeze out all the air bubbles.
Sand, Clean, and Score - Sand the surface first to remove any peeling varnish that may come off, taking the leather with it. Next wipe the wood down with a dry cloth and score the wood to give the rough plane.
Contact Cement - Contact cement is best for wood and should be applied directly to the roughed up side of the wood.
Vice and Protect - Keeping the leather and wood in a good grip will help to prevent movement and secure the glue. However, make sure the vice doesn’t mark the leather by placing a wad of material between the leather and the vice.
Leather is a beautiful material with all the benefits of its naturalness. Strong, flexible, durable, versatile, and forgiving, leather really can spruce up furniture, clothing, accessories and soft furnishings. However, when applying glue, you can ruin the leather if you don’t know what you’re doing and end up selecting the wrong product.
With this in mind, check out the pros and cons and understand what you’re looking at in a product. Moreover, consider your own intentions, how you’re applying the leather glue, and the final product. Be aware of the time it needs to dry as some of these glues aren’t designed for quick projects!