So I was making a leather guitar strap for my brother and couldn't be bothered to burnish it by hand.
I find that burnishing leather is the equivalent of sanding in a woodworking project: so terribly fastidious to do by hand yet necessary for completion..
I thought that as it wasn't anything more than rubbing wood on leather, we could feed miles of wood very fast on that leather with the proper setup.
This instructables is a quick, free way of doing that if you already own any fashion of rotative tool, be it a hand drill, a router, a drill press, a lathe...
Step 1: Tools and Materials
A drill press (or really, any other spinny-thingy)
A file or sandpaper
Step 2: Make Your Burnisher
Stick that dowel in the drill press chuck, make it tight. Turn the drill press on (careful with your hair, sleeves etc. ; don't get caught!)
Then, using the file or sandpaper, cut a groove in the dowel that matches the thickness of your leather.
That's your burnisher right here, I took it out to take a picture but feel free to leave it in there and jump right ahead to the next step!
Step 3: Burnish Awaaaaaay
Next you're going to want to level your metal-plate-thing-which-probably-has-a-technical-name with the bottom of the groove you just carved in your dowel.
Then, spread some saliva (or burnishing agent such as gum tragacanth, or simply water) onto both your burnisher and the edge of the leather.
Turn the drill press on, feed the leather and be amazed at the speed at which you're doing it now !