How to Paint and Finish Leather Cuffs

How to Paint and Finish Leather Cuffs

Do you love color? I know some people really don’t. Or they love the warm and worn look of weathered leather. So for those that just want to know how to seal and finish their cuffs I have that info below. But for those who are passionate about cerulean and can’t get enough of carmine, or just really like teal, this tutorial on how to paint and finish leather cuffs is for you.

Stamped and painted leather cuffs were kind of an obsession of mine for a time. I tried everything to see what I liked best. And I discovered that what I like best isn’t necessarily how the experts would tell you to do it. My method is, in my opinion, more affordable, gives you a wider variety of colors to use, and is just as long lasting. And it’s fun! So fun that I can’t wait to show you! But be warned this could be the start of an obsession for you, too!

Before you get started…

This YouTube video tutorial begins with the leather cuffs I made with my Cricut Maker in the last video, How to Make Leather Cuffs. However, I want to stress that you don’t have to start with a cuff that’s been debossed or tooled. You can use a ready-made cuff. If you have a Cricut Explore Air 2 or Silhouette Cameo, you can use the Wildflower Garden Deboss Design from my Creative Resource Library, and use the sketch or draw feature on a ready-made leather cuff.

No machine? No problem!!! These techniques and materials don’t depend on having either. You can also go ahead and paint a ready-made belt, a purse, or any other type of leather goods with the paints and methods below without a machine.

Project: Paint the Wildflower Garden Debossed Leather Cuff


To Stain, Seal and Finish the Cuff


Step One: Finish the Cuff Edge

Using the Edge Beveler and the edge slicker finish the edges of the cuff. Hold the Edge Beveler at a 45- degree angle in one hand and the leather with the other (as shown in the video), gently skim off the edge of the leather. Then flip it over and do the other side as well.

Use a damp paper towel to wipe the edge, and then use the edge slicker to rub and compress the leather edge. I demo this in the video. It’s kind of hard to explain, and easy to understand if you see it.

This REALLY gives your cuff a professional feel. And I like wearing my cuffs more because they slide against the skin without rubbing.

Step Two: Paint the Cuff

Using the paint, brushes, palette sheet, the small dish of water, and paper towel, start to fill in areas in the cuff with color. I like to paint in the larger spaces and then go back in with smaller brushes to add little details and highlights. This is really a ton of fun. Don’t feel like you have to paint the entire cuff either. We’re going to be going over the paint with stain, so it’s nice to have some unpainted areas to stain.

Paint and Markers for hand painting leather jewelry. | What to use to paint leather | How to paint leather with acrylics
Multi Surface Paints and Opaque Paint Markers are AWESOME on leather!

How to paint small and detailed areas.

A trick for working with small brushes is to get them wet often, and to “offload” them onto a paper towel. Paint flows better if the brush has just a little bit of water on it. However, too much water and it tends to pool. The solution is to dip it in water, but then lightly stroke the brush on a paper towel, before you load any paint. You don’t want too much paint on the brush itself, as it will just glob it up. So keep your brush fairly clean.

Step Two: Apply Stain (optional) 

Using an absorbent swab swipe on the leather stain. Try to apply it in an even sweep across the surface and without overlapping too much. Let it dry completely.How much stain you use determines how dark your cuff is. Which means go light. You can always add more. 

If you decided to skip the painting you can still stain or you can leave the leather plain and simply move on to Step Four and Five.

Step Three: Use Markers to Add Outlines/Highlights/Details

This step really makes a difference in the final look of your cuff. Outlining and highlighting with your markers is your opportunity to accentuate some shapes that may have gotten lost in the painting process. It’s also your opportunity to be playful. Using the markers, doodle some elements, and add some whimsical fantasy to your piece.

Step Four: Distress the Cuff

Lightly sand across the top of the cuff. I like this step. Although it does remove some of my painting, the overall look is much more relaxed-feeling. Leather, in my opinion, shouldn’t look new. This is a totally optional step, however. Keep in mind that if you do accidentally sand off more than you wanted, you can go back in and touch up with more paint. When I distress I go heavier on the edges, because that’s naturally where the distressing would happen. I also lightly go over the top of the design. This sometimes bring up the debossing edges which I love!

What to use on painted leather | Supplies and Tools for Staining and Sealing Leather.
My favorite leather finishes and stains.

Step Five: Apply the Leather Sealer

Shake up the leather sealer. Open it up and, using a second woolen dauber, swipe the sealer across the surface of your cuff in a thin coat. Allow the cuff to dry. You can do more than one coat. Just let them dry in between applications.

And Done!!!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and it got your creative juices flowing. Remember, you don’t have to start with a cuff that’s been debossed or tooled. You can simply start with a ready-made cuff and add your own design. If you have a Cricut Explore, you can use the Wildflower Garden Deboss Design that’s a free download in my Creative Resource Library! Below I have some extra examples of cuffs I’ve painted- just to inspire you!

Examples of handmade painted cuffs.
More examples of handpainted leather cuffs.

For more inspiration…

Interested in more leather projects? I have two more for you! The first part of this post, How to Make a Leather Cuff (featuring the Cricut Debossing and Knife tools) as well as How to Deboss a Leather Hair Slide. It’s shaped like a paint palette. I LOVE mine! I was wearing it the other day, and a friend took a pic and made me promise to post it.

How to Make a Debossed Leather Hair Slide | The Best Way to Paint and Finish Leather Crafts | DIY Painted Leather Tutorial
Make this!

Also, be sure to check out my DIY Leather Crafts board on Pinterest! To learn more about leather crafting, here’s a link to my favorite book on the subject, LeatherCrafted: A Simple Guide to Creating Unconventional Leather Goods by Caitlin McNamara Sullivan. It’s really an easy craft to try and the results are always so unique and fun!

Love it? Share it!

If you found this post helpful, I would LOVE to have you share it! It’s easy, just share this post or pin the image below! I would also love to have you try painting leather. Again, you are at risk of an obsession, but I guarantee it’s a good one. If you think you might give it a shot, please leave a comment below! Thanks for reading!!!

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5 thoughts on “How to Paint and Finish Leather Cuffs”

    1. Hi Alice- thanks so much for the catch!!! That’s the edge beveler and I forgot to put the tool and the step into the tutorial. I just fixed that! But again, thanks a ton!!! Hope you enjoy the tutorial and make lots of awesome cuffs!

    1. Hi Sheri! Thanks for your question. They’re line 24 snaps and I have links to where to buy them online at the very bottom of the supplies list. Or you purchase them at Tandy leather. You can buy line 24 snaps (just not those same ones) at most craft stores. I hope you make these and have fun with them!

  1. hello absolutely loved your video i only wish i could paint like that i was wondering about the leather, is it called tooling leather and how do you know what weight to buy ?

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