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Author Topic: How do you Re-shape Leather?  (Read 2293 times)
Rowan of Rin
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« on: March 18, 2009, 07:41:51 am »

I recently purchased a very nice old Gladstone bag, but the leather has become misshapen and hardened into this form.

I was suggested using Dubbin, but this has not made much of a difference. Would soaking it allow me to reshape the leather? Any other suggestions from the leather-gurus (Zwack Wink)?
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2009, 09:47:38 am »

I'm not a leather guru, but I have dabbled. Soaking it in water would let you shape it, but once it dries it'll get hard as a brick. I'd recommend something like neatsfoot or mink oil, which should soften it back up and let you work it back into shape.

-Kit
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2009, 09:53:25 am »

I bought some vintage motorcycle gauntlets a while ago and they were hard and cracking. A friend suggested I use saddle soap on them... but I haven't got round to trying it yet. So, actually this post might be kinda pointless.
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stockton_joans
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2009, 11:40:51 am »

mink or neatsfoot oils is the way to go, check out somewhere like Tandy leather and if you can actually get into one of there stores, ask the guys working there for their opinion, in the ones I've been in the staff are friendly and knowledgeable as well as being leather workers themselves so they will best be able to tell you exactly what you will need as well as how to apply it
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2009, 01:55:26 pm »

You should also be able to purchase neatsfoot oil or mink oil (sometimes paste, sometimes liquid) at any store that sells a full range of shoe polish goods.  The paste comes ina little tin similar to wax shoe polish.
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Zwack
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2009, 04:07:02 pm »

My suggestion would be a leather softener, there are some specific ones, but mink or neatsfoot oil works well.  Use very small quantities, if you need to add a little more then you can but you can't take it away. 

I've read some sites on conserving leather that suggest a blend of oils (usually mineral and neatsfoot oil). this would be equivalent to using neatsfoot compound.  If you don't have an equivalent to Tandy nearby look for a tack shop.  Anywhere selling horse stuff like saddles will also carry some products to care for leather.  In my experience they are usually cheaper than the specialist leather working stores for what they sell, but the range is more limited. 

Saddle soap will work but from what I've heard it's better to use neatsfoot oil unless you can't easily get it.  Soaking it would probably work if you don't mind the possibility of water staining and it drying very stiff.  Once it's dried you would want to add some of the oils back in that you washed out... and that means adding something like neatsfoot oil anyway... Smiley

I hope that this helps,

Z.
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2009, 05:03:44 pm »

Is the leather just rumpled, or is there stretching and bulging in places?  If it's just rumpled, using water is riskier and more time consuming than it's worth.

Neatsfoot oil or lanolin will make the leather nice and supple, but will darken the leather.  Tandy sells a synthetic called Lexol that won't darken the leather as much as the real deal (the label claims that it doesn't darken at all, but almost everything I've used it on darkened very slightly) but it doesn't seem to penetrate as well as the others.
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2009, 04:26:00 am »

I've read some sites on conserving leather that suggest a blend of oils (usually mineral and neatsfoot oil).


Actually, I've read that mineral oil is not a good idea to use since it apparently breaks down into a solvent over time, and not only damages the leather, but de-tans it as well. Avoid anything that says "petroleum distillates" too....

Source: http://www.jarnaginco.com/leather%20preservation.htm

Good luck on your reshaping project!
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Zwack
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2009, 05:04:19 am »

I've read some sites on conserving leather that suggest a blend of oils (usually mineral and neatsfoot oil).


Actually, I've read that mineral oil is not a good idea to use since it apparently breaks down into a solvent over time, and not only damages the leather, but de-tans it as well. Avoid anything that says "petroleum distillates" too....

Source: http://www.jarnaginco.com/leather%20preservation.htm

Good luck on your reshaping project!


And this is why you should be careful... Some people suggest using A and others say don't... Smiley

Personally I would use a tiny amount of neatsfoot oil if it needs more after at least 12 hours I would give it another equally light coat.  By light coat I really do mean light.  I place a cloth tightly over the mouth of the bottle of neatsfoot oil, turn it over and back and use that quantity.  On a large object I might do this as much as three times before the whole surface has been covered. 

Z.
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Rowan of Rin
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2009, 09:46:06 am »

Thank you for all your advice!

 
Is the leather just rumpled, or is there stretching and bulging in places?  If it's just rumpled, using water is riskier and more time consuming than it's worth.
The main problem is it is bulging quite badly, and doing the opposite in other areas, hence my wanting to reshape. How effective are these oils in softening the leather? While it is not rock solid, it is quite stiff, and I must say I am having trouble imagining a light coat of oil allowing me to change the shape, but I shall buy some and experiment Wink
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2009, 12:52:04 pm »

i remember the shape it was in, i'd take it to a leather worker, there is a great little place in the main street of Mooroolbark (vic) they deal with saddles, belts, you name it, and the guy is really friendly.


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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2009, 01:31:41 pm »

i remember the shape it was in, i'd take it to a leather worker, there is a great little place in the main street of Mooroolbark (vic) they deal with saddles, belts, you name it, and the guy is really friendly.

Depending on the extent of the deformation, this may be the best way to go.  While I am always wiling to try something new, I have found that there are times, especially when you have a singular and unique piece, that the assistance of a trained professional is the way to go.

As far as adding just a little of the oil, you can always add but it becomes very difficult to subtract neatsfoots oil from the process (yes, this is personal experience).
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Zwack
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« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2009, 08:41:33 pm »

Exactly.  Whenever I use neatsfoot oil I add the tiniest amount, wait a day, then add some more if it needs it.  Sure it takes longer, but better that than damage it.

Z.
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