What is Leather Adhesive and What are its Sources?

what is leather adhesive

Having to join pieces of leather together with some kind of adhesive is an unavoidable leatherwork activity and if you’re a DIY person like me, you might have a very curious mind that goes on wondering what adhesives are and how and where they can sourced. In this article, I did in-depth research and I’m ready to share with you all you’ll want to to know about leather adhesives.

So, what is leather adhesive? Leather adhesive is a natural sourced or artificially sourced binding agent you can use to join pieces of leather or a piece of leather and another material together. Adhesives are also referred to as glue and they can be used to make a permanent or temporal binding in preparation for the leather to be laced or stitched.

There are several sources of leather adhesives and as mentioned above, there are adhesives that are naturally sourced while there are others that are sourced from synthetic materials.

Natural Sources of Leather Adhesives

The adhesives that are made from natural materials can be grouped into plant sources and animal sources. These are special plants and animals from which materials are sourced for making leather adhesives.

Plant Sources

Plant-sourced materials for adhesives are from special plants you can simply harvest and practically use directly or through simple processes that turns it into an adhesive. Some of these materials can be harvest by picking up the whole plant source or by simply in most cases for trees “hurting” it enough for the adhesive material to ooze out.

Most plants have adhesives naturally stored up in them because some plants use them to seal and bind the tree together. Here’s are a few examples of materials from nature you could use to make adhesives for leather.

  • Pine
  • Gum
  • Rosin
  • Starch


The sap from pine makes very strong and durable adhesive. Essentially, what you’d be looking at here is the blood of the pine tree. To get the sap out, you’d have to cause the tree to somehow bleed or leak.

Useful Video: How to Make Adhesive Using Pine


Gum is another material that can be used to make really good adhesive. It’s from vegetables mostly obtained from the back of shrubs from the Fabaceae family. It can also be any sticky substance that is exuded by plants.


Rosin is also another type of sticky substance that is gotten from the Greek pitch. It’s semi-transparent and comes in a range of colors from yellow to black.


Starch can be made from corn, potato, tapioca, etc and are particularly made by boiling its powdery form in water. But this material doesn’t make for a very strong bond.

Animal Sources

Basically, anything that has protein can be used to make adhesive. Making adhesives from animals has been around for a very long time. This can be traced back to prehistoric men who used animal brian tissues, fats, and other tissues to make adhesives. Adhesives can be made from animal sources such as bladder, horn, beeswax, hooves, albumin, but we’d shed light on the more common ones such as:

  • Hides
  • Bone
  • Milk


Hide from the flesh of animals is also another viable source of material for adhesive. You can use hide shavings from goat, sheep, deer, cowhide, etc, to make adhesive you could use for your leather projects.

Useful Video: How to Make Adhesive Using Hide


With milk, you can basically distill it to its protein and turn it into an adhesive which is kid-safe and edible. It’s great for craftworks, leather crafts, and woodworking.

Useful Video: How to Make Adhesive Using Milk


I know! It’s a bit surprising to know you could use bones as a source of material for adhesives. Mostly when people think of bones, the thought of making adhesives will almost never come to mind. Bones contain some amount of adhesive substances that you can obtain by simply extracting them and voila!.

Useful Video: How to Make Adhesive Using Bones

Synthetic Sources of Leather Adhesives

You can source materials such as styrofoam, plastics to make adhesives. The styrofoam is one of the most common material sources used for making adhesives.

You can simply make a really quick leather adhesive for your leatherwork projects using styrofoam by:

  1. Getting a clean metal bowl/container free from dirt
  2. Break Styrofoam into tiny pieces into the container
  3. Pour petrol on the broken pieces of Styrofoam in the container and slowly stir with a stick until you get a porridge-like consistency
  4. You can pour it into a bottle of your choice and cover it to prevent it from drying up

You can as well watch a video on how it’s done below.

Useful Video: How to Make Adhesive Using Styrofoam


A Leather adhesive is the materials you will use to join pieces of leather or leather to other materials together. It’s a sure easy way to join pieces of materials especially if you’re new to leatherwork and you’ve not yet mastered the skills of sewing with a machine or hand sewing.

Leather adhesives are sourced from several materials but can generally be categorized into natural sources and artificial sources. Natural sources may include Pine, Gum, Rosin, and Starch while the artificial sources may include styrofoam, plastics, etc.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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