Burnishing Compounds, Edge Dyes & Waxes
So now you have your burnisher, some leather, the machine and are ready to go! Not yet grasshopper...you need a burnishing compound! Ask any number of leatherworkers what they use and you'll likely get an equal number of responses. The following is simply my take on the subject as I learned it from Bob Park. Saddle Soap + Water. Glycerine Soap works also. Simply add some soap & water to a dish to create a slickening agent, dip your fingers in and rub a small amount onto the edges of your leather (preferably after they have been edged & sanded properly). This will lubricate the edge of the leather and help disperse the burnisher friction & heat more evenly. It also helps the two from sticking together or abrading as you burnish. A couple of other popular compounds, though not my recommended ones, are Gum Trag, beeswax, and saliva. Obviously, saliva isn't sanitary so it's out. The other two aren't my favorites as they both will seal the edge of the leather, hindering the ability to dye the edge further after burnishing if desired.
Once the piece has been burnished with a non-sealing compound, you can then apply a contrasting color edge dye or simply seal with your finish of choice and buff to a shine. The final buff should be done by hand as using a rotary burnisher over a finished or edge dyed edge will result in the burnisher melting, abrading or heat cracking the edge paint, none of which are desirable.
For any other questions please contact me at: LeatherBurnishers@gmail.com.