I recently tried this Seiwa Tokonole Burnishing Gum from Japanese online shop LeatherCraftTools. I had been looking for new blades and tools to try out when I stumbled across this in a “related items” thumbnail. It’s supposed to finish the flesh side of leather so that a lining would not be required. The idea appealed to me because our products wouldn’t be using lining (you really don’t need lining if you’re working with good quality vegtan), but I thought that this could give it a more polished/finished look and feel.
In their online tutorial, you basically just spread it around using a plastic palette knife, and then burnish it using the rounded handle part of a wooden burnisher. I tried it first on a small swatch of leather, and I must say the results were pretty great. It doesn’t take much burnishing effort at all to achieve the high gloss effect. Below you can see the difference between a raw vegtan flesh side, and a burnished one.
Although I don’t really have any issues with the raw vegtan, it’s nice to have the gloss option because it’s smoother to the touch (where raw vegtan can sometimes be rougher/more suedelike), like the fibers have been compacted and sealed. A big bottle of the Tokonole will last you a while too, for a dozen or so projects at least, because you really don’t have to apply a lot, just a thin film of it over the surface.
On the left, the raw vegetable tanned leather flesh underside; on the right, burnished with Seiwa Tokonole burnishing gum. On the natural-colored vegtan, the burnishing gum also darkens it a bit, but not in a bad way. It gets a hint of golden browning as though it has already been exposed to the sun a bit.
You can get the Seiwa Tokonole burnishing gum from LeatherCraftTools.com