We need to make a 42 x 90 table with a leather surface. I am wondering what adhesive to use. Should I worry about backing material? What about seaming? Our leather supplier has already warned us they may not have a hide big enough for this table. Our construction will be either MDF core with phenolic surfaces, or MDF with veneer. Is one preferable to the other? I would appreciate advice from anyone with experience using leather as a work surface material, as we have none.
From contributor G:
Have done two smaller tables (both on sanded plywood) and a small desk (with veneer on solid wood core). Used 3M spray adhesive and vinyl wallpaper paste (not both together). If you use waterbase, do not allow leather to stretch, because it will then shrink on drying (major substrate warp). It goes down well with a rubber hand roller.
As a work surface it is not very durable. (Some faults differ with thickness, oil vs vegetable tan, and surface glazing). As a writing surface it is traditional on drop front desks where it is very thin and most likely worked well with fountain and dip pens, but tends to mark badly with ball point if the writer bears down. It stains fairly easily and watermarks from vases and sometimes glasses. Vegetable tan absorbs grease and dyes like a sponge unless seal coated. It will stain from iron objects that have rusty bottoms, and things set on it which have small feet leave dents. The thicker the leather, the worse the faults. Also if used in a home environment that includes a cat, be aware that cats will sharpen their claws on it in preference to any other thing in the house and can wreck a leather top in minutes and shred it to the backer in a few days.
That does sound like a gloriously large expanse of leather. Are you wrapping the edge or using it as an insert field? If the latter, you may need to pare down the thickness along the edge to match veneer thickness.
The only literature I know of using leather as a surfacing material is bookbinding. TALAS sells supplies for such and books.