Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Getting Leather Soft


There is not a single product that softens leather.
And dyes, alcohol or water based, do not stiffen up leather. 
Let me explain: 
Think of this in terms of the leather fibers - kind-of like the fingers of your two hands interlaced.
When you get the leather wet to tool or form it or dye the leather, and while the leather fibers are limp, the leather is pliable. 
Now as the leather dries, the dye, and to a lesser extent the water, makes the leather fibers sticky, they stick to each other, and when it is dry, the leather feels stiff. 

Many people confuse this stiffness with "casing and/or dyeing dries out the leather".  You will hear often that alcohol based dyes "evaporates the oil from the leather".  [The oil/fat have already be taken out of the leather by the tannery - that is why you can case it and dye it.]

 Now you put oil, a sealer, or conditioner on and nothing changes....!?!?! 

The fibers still stick to each other because of the dye, and maybe now also the sealer. 

BUT, as soon as you start manipulating and bending the leather, the fibers break free of each other and the leather becomes softer. 

If you had applied a conditioner like dubbin or Aussie or Neatsfoot oil, the fibers that break free from each other, get lubricated and the leather feels even softer because the fibers now also get lubricated. 

 I hope this helps!

Published Aug 2016
Updated Oct 2020

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