If you appreciate top-quality leather goods, you may have noticed that a lot of attention goes into the stitching along the seams. But much of a leather product’s quality relies on the adhesive used to bond those seams—and not just any type of glue will do.
Whether you’re repairing a jacket or sofa, or venturing into leatherworking as a hobby, choosing the best glue for leather will yield better results, ensuring longer-lasting repairs and bonds. Keep reading to learn more about how to choose the right product and why the following options are considered among the best glues for leather.
- BEST OVERALL: Fiebing’s Leathercraft Cement
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Loctite Ultra Gel Control Super Glue
- BEST FOR SHOES: Aleene’s15594 Leather & Suede Glue
- BEST FOR FURNITURE: Coconix Vinyl and Leather Repair Kit
- BEST FOR PRECISION: Gorilla Micro Precise Super Glue
- BEST CONTACT CEMENT: Barge All-Purpose TF Cement
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Glue for Leather
The ancient Romans used a mix of tar and beeswax as their leatherworking adhesive of choice. Luckily, modern options are more advanced—but there are several factors to keep in mind when choosing a product, including the type of glue, the leather surface, and drying time.
A few different types of glue are suitable for leatherwork and repair, each with their pros and cons.
- Leather glues have specific formulas designed to bond leather goods during assembly. These glues create flexible bonds, and they’re typically low VOC (volatile organic compounds, which are responsible for headaches and nausea associated with some adhesives, paints, and stains). Leather glues are easy to apply, as users can spread them on one piece of leather and bond it to the other before stitching.
- Leather cements create a flexible bond that is very difficult to pull apart. They are higher in VOCs than glues (particularly sensitive users should wear a mask) and slightly more complicated to apply, as they require being spread evenly on both surfaces before bonding. The end result is an incredibly strong bond suitable for almost any project, including shoes, jackets, and bags.
- Super glue might evoke thoughts of broken coffee mugs and children’s toys, but it does work on leather in a pinch. Often, super glue bonds are not flexible, but they can offer an easy way to make a quick repair.
Depending on the situation or the type of leather, certain glues might work better than others. For instance, if you’re crafting a simple wallet or knife sheath, a basic leather glue can typically handle the job. But if you’re creating a complex bag that will require a lot of stitching, a leather cement is probably best, as the seams will be less likely to separate. In fact, leather cement forms a near-permanent bond, so it’s excellent for intricate projects as well as gluing shoes and boots and other high-stress repairs.
When it comes to repairing a piece of furniture or car seat—basically, any scenario where stitching after gluing would be impossible—a super glue might do the trick. Be aware that the resulting seam will not be very flexible, so it could eventually separate in a high-use area.
Waterproof vs. Water Resistant
Some leathers are well suited for wet conditions. These include latigo and bridle leather, which have been treated with waxes and oils. When working with them, choose a leather glue that can hold up under occasionally damp conditions.
Due to its extremely tacky, chemical nature, leather cement provides a waterproof seam when applied evenly across two surfaces. It’s the best choice for a backpack or briefcase that might be protecting valuable items in a sudden rainstorm.
Super glues also tend to be waterproof, or at least highly water resistant. Leather glues, on the other hand, might offer some water resistance but aren’t suitable for truly wet conditions.
Leather can be a challenging medium, as it is a natural product that often seems to have a mind of its own. When crafting large leather goods or making repairs on furniture or car seats, drying time can be a big deal. All leather adhesives dry relatively quickly, but different types dry at different rates.
- Leather glues dry slowest, often taking 10 to 20 minutes to bond two pieces of leather. The benefit to this is users can make minor adjustments if necessary before the bond holds.
- Leather cement dries very quickly. After spreading the cement evenly on two surfaces, users wait a minute or two before sticking the seams together. Once the surfaces touch, the bond is immediate.
- Super glues also dry within a minute or so. While that’s certainly fast, it might not offer enough time to assemble a craft, which is why super glue is really only suitable for repairs.
Applying leather glue isn’t rocket science, but a bit of preparation and technique help ensure good results. For instance, almost all glues will adhere better if the user scuffs the smooth side (the “grain”) of the leather a bit to increase the fibers and surface area. A few simple scrapes with a sharp knife along the area to be glued is all it takes.
For easy application, leather glue typically comes in a squeeze-type bottle. The glue should flow out smoothly, so using the bottle tip to apply it is often sufficient. Applying cement can be a more challenging process, but a small acid-type brush can mitigate mess. Be aware that the tacky, stretchable, flexible nature of cement requires careful spreading across the seam. Super glues are as easy to apply from the tip of the container to leather as they are to any other surface.
It’s important to apply pressure to seams after gluing until a bond is formed. Many leather crafters like to pound their seams with a small mallet to ensure they lay flat and create a good bond. Others opt for small butterfly-style paper clips along the seam to apply even pressure.
Our Top Picks
Leather is tough and durable, yet it also has a luxurious feel, so items made of this material can last a long time. The following compilation of some of the best glues for leather on the market can help you choose the right product for your craft and repair projects.
For glue-like workability and cement-like bonding, consider Fiebing’s Leathercraft Cement. This product features a low-VOC, nontoxic formula that flows easily from the squeeze tip, making for safe and easy application. The resulting bond is very strong and flexible, so it’s suitable for almost any leather project, such as shoes, bags, wallets, and furniture.
To use, apply a thin layer across the two surfaces to be bonded and, unlike other cements, press them together while still wet. This allows a few extra moments to position the leather perfectly before creating that permanent bond.
When it comes to getting a few more miles out of leather goods, Loctite’s Ultra Gel Control Super Glue can get the job done for far less than the price of a professional repair. This super glue creates permanent bonds in leather as well as plastic, wood, paper, ceramics, and other surfaces.
Unlike most other super glues, Loctite’s formula creates a flexible bond that leather goods often require for a permanent repair. Its tip makes it easy to apply this glue to a small area, such as a seam, small tear, or other separation. It also dries clear and provides a water-resistant bond, making it suitable for repairs in nearly any leather product.
Professional shoe repair is expensive, and some conventional leather glues aren’t up for a quality DIY job. So rather than toss those shoes, consider giving Aleene’s Leather and Suede Glue a try. This product creates a flexible, durable bond between layers of leather, providing just the fusion required for various shoe repairs.
Aleene’s has a customizable tip that makes application very straightforward. Simply cut the tip to the desired opening size and squeeze a bit onto the leather before applying pressure for a permanent bond. While this formula flows well, it won’t soak all the way through and cause discoloration—a big plus when repairing expensive leather footwear.
Occasionally a leather glue has to do more than just stick two pieces together. When faced with damage on a leather couch or chair, for instance, the Coconix Vinyl and Leather Repair Kit can create flexible, long-lasting, and color-matched repairs. This repair kit comes with 10 colors, allowing users to mix and blend to create an ideal color match.
Mixing and applying this leather glue is easy. It comes with a mixing cup, brush, and canvas backing material for large rips. After mixing, dip the brush into the glue and dab over the affected area. Once dry, the area can be evened out by rubbing with the included alcohol pads until smooth.
When applying leather glue is a precision matter, Gorilla Micro Precise Super Glue allows users to work just the right amount of glue from the tip and onto the exact area in need of repair. This type of control makes it simple to fix a small tear fast—and help prevent it from spreading.
Gorilla Micro Precise Super Glue works on leather as well as plastic, metal, paper, ceramic, and other materials, making it a quality leather-ready glue to keep on hand. It dries in 10 to 45 seconds, making quick work of small repairs.
Those looking to use the same product as pros and experienced crafters should check out Barge All-Purpose TF Cement. This contact cement instantly creates flexible bonds between pieces of leather as well as rubber, wood, glass, cork, and other materials. The powerful, pliable bond is so strong that professional cobblers have been relying on Barge for years.
Applying Barge is fairly easy, though it does require a bit of technique. Using an acid brush, apply a bit of the contact cement along the entire seam on both pieces of leather. After it dries for a minute or so, press the pieces together for an instant, durable bond. Just be careful not to get Barge on any of the finished surfaces, as it’s nearly impossible to clean off. Also, Barge is a classic contact cement, which means it contains potentially irritating VOCs and solvents.
FAQs About Glue for Leather
If you’d like a bit more information on buying and using leather glue, read on for the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about these products.
Q. What kind of glue works on leather?
Several types of glue work on leather, including contact cements, super glues, and traditional leather-specific glues.
Q. Does Gorilla Glue work on leather shoes?
Gorilla Glue does work on leather shoes, but it can be difficult to work with in its traditional form. DIY cobblers might prefer something with a bit more control, like Gorilla Micro Precise Super Glue, as it’s one of the best precision-oriented super glues.
Q. How do you glue leather to leather?
If using leather glue to adhere flesh side to flesh side (the rough sides of the leather), simply apply the glue to the grain side of one piece and apply it to the other side. Then clamp or pound the seam flat until bonded. If gluing grain (the finished side of the leather), scratch it up first with a knife or piece of sandpaper before applying glue.
For contact cement, apply a thin layer to both pieces, allow them to dry for a minute, and then stick both seams together. The grain side of the leather will need a good scratch before applying cement.