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Old July 8, 2013, 10:01 PM   #1
SerenityNetworks
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Condition brittle leather scabbard

I now have this nice leather scabbard that my father used years ago. It was put away and forgotten for years. The leather is hard and dry. You can hear it crack when gripped firmly.

I'm not sure if I want to use it as a carrying case (the inside is lined with lambskin) or perhaps flatten it out and use the decorative leather for some sort of decoration or decorative background. Either way, it seems to me that I need to somehow soften / recondition the leather.

Any advice on how to go about the task?

Thanks in advance,
Andrew
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Old July 8, 2013, 10:14 PM   #2
SgtLumpy
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I've used saddle soap on saddles and other leather horse tack that has sat for ages and dried to the really stiff condition. I think it's some kind of very light oil, emulsified in water. Which I think defines what soap is. A lot of horse people use "Tone" or other or other moisturizing bar soap. I think the concept is all the same. Not too much oil, allow it to wash off a bit with water, dry and buff.

I don't care for neatsfoot or mink oil. That kind of stuff always seems to leave things greasy.

There was a heated argument here recently on what to use on holsters. Perhaps this application is calmer than the holster argument since the scabbard isn't formed or boned to any particular weapon.

We've got some 100+ year old tack that stays just fine with a little saddle soap every four or five years. And that was after it had sat for maybe 30 years in a hot Arizona shed, unused.


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Old July 8, 2013, 10:16 PM   #3
big al hunter
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Saddle soap and lots of elbow grease. Work it in with a rag in tiny circles. Someone may have a new, easier product.
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Old July 8, 2013, 10:28 PM   #4
SerenityNetworks
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I wondered about Saddle Soap, as I use it regularly to maintain good leather. I'm not really worried about darkening of the leather by the moisture restored with using the soap, but I just didn't know if the strong alkali might make matters worse on already brittle leather. I hesitate to experiment.

I wondered too if a wax or silicone product like SnoSeal might work. This isn't a holster, so I don't think I should be concerned about the leather stretching if I used an oil product. But with both these cases I would just be guessing.
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Old July 9, 2013, 09:50 AM   #5
Rifleman1776
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You cannot put back what has been lost.
But, you can help preserve as a decorative piece.
Neatsfoot oil applied very liberaly will help for a long time. Resoak about every five or ten years.
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Old July 9, 2013, 11:00 AM   #6
newfrontier45
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Good Lord, NEVER soak any leather in any oil or conditioner, unless you want it to be soft and floppy forever. This actually damages the cells within the hide, causing them to swell and burst. I don't know why people think they have to soak the leather in oil.

You absolutely can put back what was lost and what has been lost is moisture. You can't repair existing cracks but you can make the item usable again and prevent further cracking. Read this article from a leather restoration expert:

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

Saddle soap is good, as is Lexol conditioner. I would suggest either for restoring your scabbard. Neatsfoot oil is also good but NEVER soak leather in oil. Apply a very light coat every year or two to restore lost moisture.
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Old July 9, 2013, 11:13 AM   #7
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Black-Rock

There are many good products out there and, in use, we usually stop when we find a product that gives us good performance. By my measure, the one that I am currently stuck on, is Black-Rock. Bing or Google for best source. It's not cheap but it is good. I use it on "vintage" leather as in your application. ....
A little goes a long way.

"vintage" (A Progressive's word for old !! )


http://www.pfiwestern.com/pfi/wester...tml?item=BLR01

Good luck and;
Be Safe !!!
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Old July 9, 2013, 12:06 PM   #8
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I would suggest Saddle Soap. Because of the "Lamb skin" (fleece?), lining, I would not use pure Neets Foot oil. Saddle Soap contains some Neets Foot oil and lanolin, both used to soften leather. It also contains some waxes that will put a barrior between the elements and the leather. I would suggest finishing the leather with neutral shoe polish which contains more waxes for protection.

From Wikipedia:
"Saddle soap is a preparatory compound containing mild soap and softening ingredients such as neatsfoot oil, glycerin, and lanolin. It also contains beeswax to protect leather. It is used for cleaning, conditioning and softening leather, particularly that of saddles and other horse tack, hence its name. It is also commonly used for cleaning and conditioning leather footwear and leather camera cases. Regularly cleaning of leather goods extends the lifespan and helps maintain good quality."
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Old July 9, 2013, 12:39 PM   #9
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I've never tried any but there are supposed to be methods to restore leather using brain tissue of things like deer. Google.
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Old July 9, 2013, 12:59 PM   #10
newfrontier45
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Brains are/were used for tanning, not restoration. Typically used on deer and elk hides by Indians.
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Old July 9, 2013, 01:45 PM   #11
Mike Irwin
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Lexol.

It's your best bet.

AND STOP GRABBING IT! YOU'RE CRACKING IT!
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Old July 9, 2013, 01:54 PM   #12
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Regarding organ tanning, I once read a quote, supposedly by a frontiersman, to the effect of "It was very thoughtful of the Lord to put just enough brains in a deer to tan its hide."
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Old July 9, 2013, 02:49 PM   #13
SerenityNetworks
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Re: Condition brittle leather scabbard

Quote:
]AND STOP GRABBING IT! YOU'RE CRACKING IT!
I DID. I DID. :-)

The first time that I grabbed it firmly, to pull off the end section, I heard it crack. I've been careful since.

I've got a couple tins of Saddle Soap in my shoe polishing kit. I think I'll try it on the flat butt end and see how it goes. If that doesn't do it well then I'll see if I can find some Lexol or Black-Rock to try on another unobtrusive area.

Thanks for the quick feedback gents.

Regards,
Andrew

PS. I love the deer brain quote. Now if only my 'vintage' brain will remember the phrase at the time when it's appropriate to use.
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