Monday, January 4, 2021

Cracking Leather

 Stop Leather from Cracking

"My leather cracks when I fold it after dyeing.  Help!!"

This comes up often as a problem - here is my take on the issue:

First Question:   Are you using the Eco-Flo water based stain from the square bottle?
If you are, please read this blog post (it covers the two important secrets in using this stain - shake and long application):

Next Issue:   The dye changed to very top layer of the leather.   This will take some explanation.

If you aggressively fold leather as it comes from the tannery, the outer layer will probably stretch enough so that it does not crack.

Now think of the leather fibers as the same as the hair of a paintbrush.   Easy to bend over, until you use it in paint and you do not wash it.   They dry very stiff and hard.

Exactly the same happens to the leather fibers that you dyed.   People think it is the dye that dries out the leather, but you start off with dry leather.  It is now the leather fibers that stick to each other.

To solve this problem, there are a few things to consider:
  • You can bend the leather while it is damp and the leather can stretch more.   This can be when it is still damp from the dye, or you could get the whole piece damp again.
  • You can treat the leather with a conditioner such as olive oil, neatsfoot oil or any of the waxy greasy conditioners out there.   After it has penetrated the leather, manipulate the leather to give the fibers a chance to work them selves loose and become lubricated.
  • Not all leathers are tanned with the same recipe - some may easily accept an aggressive fold and some may crack just because of the way it was tanned.
  • The thicker the leather, the further you expect the outer layer to stretch, which could also be a factor.
Keep these points in mind and test with cut-off pieces what works best for you.

There is a lot of opinions out there about oil and dye / before and after.  You have to be VERY careful with this advice!!!       Please read this:

I will add to this post as I think of more things.
Have Fun!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Cutting Straight

Yes, I know:  you have cork under your ruler.....

BUT.....Cutting against a metal straight edge will work well, until you cut a big piece for an expensive project.
And then the straight edge will slip and you will cut into your project leather......     [Learning from a friend...]

So I suggest this:
Use a ruler / straight edge and a scratch awl to mark the line where you want to cut.  Then make the cut freehand!

Because during the marking phase you can focus just on keeping the ruler straight.   Then when you do the cut, you can just focus on that and do not have to worry to also keep the ruler stable.

Here it is in action: