Leather is a material that is almost similar to rubber in many ways. Modern gaskets are usually made of rubber or silicone, so does leather make a good gasket? Learn all about using leather as a gasket here.
Does leather make a good gasket?
Leather makes excellent gaskets. Leather gaskets have existed for quite a long time. They have mostly been replaced with more robust materials in modern use like neoprene rubber gaskets, but you can still find leather and other natural materials like cork or paper being used in less serious, but still important situations like well pumps.
Are leather gaskets waterproof?
Leather gaskets are indeed waterproof, to a certain extent. Leather is not impenetrable to water, but when used as a gasket that is under pressure, the pores are squeezed shut and it actually becomes a decently reliable gasket.
Using leather as a transmission pan gasket
It is definitely possible to use leather as a transmission pan gasket, in fact, they were even commonly used in old cars. You could even find paper or cork being used as gaskets, paper is still being used today.
If you don’t have cork or paper gasket material laying around but you do have leather, it is very possible for you to make your own. While it may take some effort to cut it to the exact shape you need, you can simply use the pan itself as a guide and cut the impression on the leather. You will still need a gasket sealer though.
How to make a leather gasket
There are many ways you can make leather gaskets, from simple techniques to ones that require a few extra tools. We will teach you how to make leather gaskets, even ones with complicated shapes.
Using a Cricut or Silhouette cutter to make leather gaskets
These craft machines aren’t made to cut leather, they’re usually made to cut vinyl. However, you are able to purchase more robust blades that are able to handle leather. Or at the very least, score the leather so you can finish the job with a craft knife.
Teaching you how to use a Cricut or a Silhouette cutter is beyond the scope of this guide, so we hope that you already know how to use one.
The next step is to find or create an SVG file of your gasket. You should be able to find the dimensions of your gasket through the manufacturer’s online guide or other online resources. You’d then be able to take that image and scale it up to the right dimensions indicated by the manufacturer.
All you need now is to find the right settings to cut or at least score the leather. If your leather is quite thin, you could cut all the way through by using multiple passes. If your leather is thicker, you could instead use the blade to score the surface and you can finish the cut-off by following the blade’s path and cutting all the way through.
Check out the excellent video from Rusty:
Making gaskets with punches
If the gasket you need is a very simple circular one, then punches are your best friend. They’re very straightforward to use and punches are quite inexpensive while being an item that can last you a long time. Here’s how to make leather washers with punches.
Things you will need:
- Gasket hole punch set
- Sheet of leather
- Cutting mat
- Caliper (Optional)
- Measure the inner and outer diameters of the part you’re making a gasket for with the caliper.
- Set a cutting mat down where you plan to work. It is best to use a cutting mat to protect the punch from getting damaged by or damaging what you’re punching on.
- Place the leather over the cutting mat and pick a spot that looks the most even.
- Use the punches that are the right size you measured for your application.
- With a mallet, give the punch a few good blows. It shouldn’t take you more than 4 blows to get through the leather.
- To get the punch centered better, you could start with the bigger diameter and mark the distance between the outer diameter and inner diameter on 4 sides to make sure that the distance is even on all sides.
Making leather gaskets with complicated shapes without special tools
If you’re making a leather seal for a part that isn’t just a simple round shape, you can do so with the method that we’ve mentioned above for the transmission pan gasket. We will go into more detail about that method here and how to properly do it.
Things you will need:
- Leather sheet
- The part the gasket is needed for
- A pencil or marking blue (aka layout stain or fluid).
- Gasket punch set
- Cutting mat
- Leather shears (Optional)
- Large sheet of paper (optional)
- Clean the part you will need the gasket for from any oils.
- If you want to opt for marking blue, apply some on the face that the gasket goes on.
- Press the part on the leather, leaving a blue impression on the leather.
- You can also trace the outline with a pencil, but that is more difficult as you will not get the inner side or the bolt holes.
- If you want to use a pencil, you can do the shading method by placing a large sheet of paper over the part and shading it. The edges and areas that touch the part will be darker and will create a clear imprint of the part.
- You can then use the paper to cut the leather.
- Cut the lines that have been marked by the blue dye or the pencil shadings with a craft knife. You can use leather shears to make cutting the bulk of the leather easier.
- Use the punches to punch out the bolt holes, and make sure they are the proper size and aligned so the bolts can go through properly.
Leather gaskets are great alternatives for rubber or silicone gaskets, but it can be tricky if you’re not sure how to make them fit perfectly. However, it’s not impossible as long as you get the basics down. There are many ways to customize a leather gasket even if you don’t any special tools, so we hope that you found this article helpful.
What is the best material to make a gasket?
The most obvious choice for the best material to make a gasket are silicone rubbers and natural rubber. This is because these materials can perfectly fit any surface irregularities due to their stretchy yet durable nature. Plus, rubber is considered to be weatherproof and doesn’t easily age or oxidize making them last longer compared to other materials.
Can I make my own rubber gasket?
Sure, you can. If you want to make a rubber gasket at home, all you need are a sharp knife, a rubber sheet, a marker, and some gasket sealer. There are many tutorials online on how to make your own rubber gasket and the process is similar to making a leather gasket as well.
How thick should a gasket be?
The standard size for gaskets is 1/16″ and 1/8″. Of course, it varies on where you’ll be using it. Thinner gaskets are great for absorbing stronger compression since it has a smaller cross-sectional area while thicker gaskets are used if you’re dealing with warped or damaged flanges since they can fill out the surface irregularities better.
What is a polyurethane gasket?
A polyurethane gasket is exactly what it means. It is a gasket much like the rubber and silicone ones but instead, it is made out of PU. Some prefer polyurethane gaskets because they are more resistant to scratches, cracks, grease, and high impact caused by heavy loads. They are also immune to damage due to oxidization.
Can I use cardboard for gasket?
Yes, you can, however, not all cardboard materials can be turned into gaskets. You want to use dense cardboard material to avoid leaks. You can also buy paper gasket sheets you can cut into any shape.