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Leather Inserts for Desk or Table Tops

Desks and coffee and end tables can have tooled leather panels recessed into the tops. We can replace or refinish them.

These items require special attention. The leather inserts can be completely replaced. They can also be stripped and refinished along with the wood furniture item if the client understands the risks.


A typical 2 square foot rectangle insert might be removed and replaced at an average of $600-800. But there are alternatives.

  • Removal: The leather insert has been glued into place to the wood substrate below. We have no way of knowing what that substrate material consists of.  We can get a loose edge or corner to lift slightly and use special solvents to release the adhesive. The degree of damage to the substrate material can not be anticipated except to know that there will likely be some. Any voids or grain tearing must be made totally smooth before any reapplication.
  • Template: An exact template of the leather insert must be made and sent to the leather fabricator to duplicate. The template material should be clear sheet vinyl depending on rectangle versus irregular shapes.
  • New Insert: New leather can be fabricated and gold embossed tooled around the edges or only the corners. They also are available in several colors. They average about $100 per square foot depending on size and shape. The larger the size the more the cost per foot to get from a single hide.  A quote will be obtained for client approval. Delivery time is 2-4 weeks.
  • Installation: After the rest of the wood furniture item is stripped and refinished as desired, the new leather insert must be fitted and installed. They arrive slightly oversized. They must be carefully installed with special adhesives, trimmed to fit the recess edge, and any touchup work performed. The cost to install would range depending on size, shape, and simplicity.


Existing leather inserts of real leather in good condition can be refinished along with the wood at minor additional costs, but some risks.

During the normal wood refinishing stages the leather has the wood stain applied and it is sealed and lacquered along with the wood. The color is that of the wood stain and is usually darker than the surrounding wood. The leather takes on the appearance of a worn horse saddle with irregular lighter and darker areas. Any gold tooling is lost but the embossed pattern usually continues to be visible. Whenever we have taken this approach the client has been very happy with the results.

Given quality top surface leather there should be no problems. The risk is likely 5-10% and will be known after stripping. However, we have seen lower grade split-leather that fuzzed up like suede, faux leather that was useless and other problems including minor shrinkage.

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