Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Staining Leather - Dyes and Oils with Photos

As  newbie I needed to find out what did what to the color of my leather. My online research showed that some folks dyed, oiled and then did a sealer. So let's say you use Feibings brown oil dye (most leave to dry over night), then you hit your leather with Neatsfoot oil (can darken the color more), and then you seal the leather with something like Tan Kote (shiny) or Bag Kote (not as shiny).

I have my own taste on what color I want my leather to be so I ordered some things and decided the best thing to do would be to test them all out. I have been practicing tooling on leather rounders and these were perfect for my dye tests.

Here are some photos showing my findings. I thought this might be good for someone that needed the same info in the future.

 Fiebings Bag Kote

This is my personal favorite. I like how it brings out the tooling and it's not too brown. This is a sealer as well so its a simple solution for me. This is a water base finish. You can buff this out to a shine but like it it nice and flat. This was designed to be used on mail bags, hence the name.

Neatsfoot oil and Bee's Wax

This is an old saddler's method to treat leather. You do a 50/50 mix of Neatsfoot oil and bee's wax. I used a mason jar. I put in my wax and oil in the jar and dropped the jar into boiling water. It will melt together and then you pour it into a cup. I liked the idea of using the the old method and the look is pretty authentic as well. 

I love what Eco-Flo highlighter does to leather. The only problem is that I can't keep it on if it gets wet. I used Bag Kote on this round and rubbed in the Eco-Flo highlighter. This is what I got.
 Neatsfoot Oil

 This is just Neatsfoot rubbed into the leather. It will darken it up just a little. This is not a sealer but this is how it looks on leather.
Olive Oil

Next to Bag Kote I like just plain olive oil. You want the extra virgin kind. Leather will tan like your skin. I oiled this rounder up and sat it outside for a few hours. It looks great. This is not a sealer either.

Fiebings Oil Dye - Light Brown

At least I ordered light brown. It didn't say it on the label. This looks more like a dark brown to me. While it's too dark for most of what I have been doing I have used it on trim and it looks good. It's oil dye so it's not going to ever wash out. You can also cut this dye with denatured alcohol to lighten it up. I'm sure this color will come in handy for many things.

Finally, here is a bracelet I made. I used Fiebings black oil dye for the background. Light brown on the edges and straight Bag Kote on the tooled parts. I like this one a lot.

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