Author Topic: when buying leather  (Read 1418 times)

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Offline hayshaker

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when buying leather
« on: January 12, 2018, 02:44:29 PM »
given the cost of top quality veggietan leather i was wonering
how others do it. is it better to buy a smaller section of predyed leather in the color
you wish to make a sheath out of?
or to dye it yourself. all i want is the best look i can get.
i just got my order from jantz of some fiebing's pro dye.
i did some test splotches on a very light piece of leather almost white.
and was not impresed. all that said which is the best way to go?
i ask this cause i plan on selling these .

Offline Unknown

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 02:57:41 PM »
Are you sure your sample was top grain veg. tan leather? Almost white doesn't sound quite right. A fresh piece that hasn't been exposed to sun kinda looks like the color of a cheap band aid- is that white

When I've read on a leather crafter forum there have been some complaints/discussion of inconsistent dye taking qualities. As a natural material I'd say it could happen to any brand or quality grade. It's just that some are less likely to have problems than others.

In my experience predyed/ colored leather are usually not veg tan. No guarantee with that statement. What I've seen is meant for clothing, upholstery, maybe purses and such.

I keep it simple. No dye. Just let nature take over. Sometimes I start it early and put a rough cut in the sun prior to cutting the pattern and then again after. Not everyone wants that so dye. Not the best answer that's all I know
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Offline wolfy

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2018, 03:03:45 PM »
I always dye my own, but others may chime in that know more about working with already-dyed leather than I do.  Which wouldn't be much! :P   

Why weren't you "impressed"....what happened? :shrug:


P.S.   I already had this written before Unk posted, but decided to go ahead, anyway. :-\
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Offline hayshaker

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2018, 03:18:26 PM »
the piece in question i bought at rondy some years back.
it had been in the shop exsposed to light and all seasons.
it's not veggie tanned but some chem tanned i'm sure.
does that make a difference? the chocolate dye seemed to take well.

Offline Unknown

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 04:25:56 PM »
 Can I assume you did not clean it first? Dependent on shop air quality there may have been some contaminate(s) interference.

I don't know if chrome tan makes a difference in dye, not sure I've used any.

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Offline hayshaker

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 04:40:09 PM »
naaa i would'nt say the piece was exactly clean by any means.

Offline wsdstan

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 08:02:16 PM »
Clean a piece of the leather and then dye it.  See how that turns out.  Dyeing dirty leather usually winds up with a piece of dyed dirty leather.  Streaks and inconsistencies. 

I use the same dye you bought and it has always been pretty good in its uniformity and color unless there is a flaw in the leather.

As to your question I usually dye the leather myself although there is a dark maroon leather at Tandy's that I like and if that is the color I am going to use then I will buy that one.  No reason, it just saves me buying that color dye that I seldom use except for sheaths. 
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2018, 04:35:28 AM »
 Hayshaker,  first things first, if you expect to end up with a high quality sheath you have to start out with top shelf leather, pre dyed leather as long as it's a good quality vegetable tanned leather will work ok in most instances, but may not give you the hand made custom look you're aiming for,  also, some pre dyed leather will not take conditioners well and may dry up or crack faster than pre conditioned hand dyed leather.
 My advice is, if you intend to make high quality sheaths for your custom knives, don't try to do it on the cheap, buy half hides of clear vegetable tanned tooling or skirting saddle leather in 8 ~ 9 ounce thickness,  my preference has always been for horse hide over cow hide, but either is fine, hand stitching is better and nicer than machine stitching any day in my opinion.
 If you want to practice your technique use scraps or cheap leather, but if you're working on a piece for a customer, always give them the best, remember, your name or makers mark will accompany your work for a long time, make it count for you, not against you.
 Cutting, sewing, and finishing your leather project is only half the work,  the choice of leather, how you condition it, and how careful you work with it will all show in the finished product,  use the right conditioners for the leather you're working with, once done it has to have a finish applied that will set what ever dye you used, if you don't the dye will run when it gets wet, even from sweat.
 Most leather dyes are alcohol or water based,  to get a more even finish try dampening the leather with water before applying the die, alcohol will mix with water, moistening the leather will help it to drink in the dye more evenly that if the leather was dry.

 Lastly, buy a good book about working with leather and read it carefully, one that has less to do with designing or cutting and stitching, and more about the leather itself, unless you know about the product you're working with you will continue to have problems with the finish you end up with.

 Good luck.   
In youth we learn,   with age we understand.

Offline hayshaker

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2018, 05:46:40 AM »
MOE, TO ANSWER A FEW QUESIONS THE SCRAP LEATHER piece
was only to use as a test splotch that's all.
i would not use scrap leather for sheaths i'm going to sell.
when my tandy catalog arrives i'm ordering top grade veggietan leather
8-9oz for my sheaths, i've already orderd some books and a video by
chuck burrows on the subject to get aquainted with the subject before
i start. integrety is important cause yes my name will be on my work so to speak.

and that does mean something to me.
i'll post a photo of my leather when it arives that is what i'll be using for sheaths
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 05:57:04 AM by hayshaker »

Offline Yeoman

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2018, 08:30:18 AM »
I've not once every had a single coat of dye do a good job. Multiple light (lighter the better) coats work well.
"Learning: a continuation of the failure process"

Offline 1066vik

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2018, 08:54:55 AM »
my personal experience - YMMV
fiebings spirit dye takes multiple coats and leaves a chalky residue.
fiebings pro oil based dye almost always goes on 2 shades (or more) darker than I want -- their medium brown os a dark walnut and their dark brown is almost black.
I have not played with either flavor of the eco-flow dyes (regular or pro)

how I do my sheaths:
cut out the pattern
glue on the welt
soak the leather in hot water for 20-30 seconds (bubbles stop forming)
wrap the wet leather in a terry cloth towel for an hour or so in order for the wet to migrate all the way through.
punch my holes
dye
let sit another 20-30 minutes
fold and sew
wrap knife in "press and seal" and shove it in the sheath
put the entire package on a windowsill (spring & fall) or next to a floor register (summer & winter) for  day, then take the knife out and put the sheath upside down over the register for another day
once it's thoroughly dry, I wipe the whole thing down with a thick coat of sno-seal and melt it in with a heat gun on low setting blowing past the sheath and not directly on it.
when done melting in, buff with a dead sock or piece of flannel.


Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2018, 10:26:11 AM »
I have had good luck with alcohol based dyes from Tandy. Chrome tanned leather is very different from vegetable tanned leather. The veg tanned stuff will mark easily with a fingernail when it is damp. The chrome tanned stuff will not.

To answer your original question, the best way to buy leather is in bulk. When I am going to be making a lot of items, I buy whole sides of leather. It is best to buy it in person so you can see the blemishes and range marks and decide if a piece will work for your application. A lot of people get caught up in paying more for a perfect, unmarked hide but many minor blemishes will disappear under tooling and some fine scars from barbed wire add a certain rustic character that can't be reproduced or faked. Just watch out for the really low grades that have been sanded or have fillers on them. Those will not take dye evenly and don't look that good for tooling projects either, but they are perfect for welts and other applications where the surface is hidden anyway.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 10:38:19 AM by PetrifiedWood »

Offline hayshaker

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Re: when buying leather
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2018, 11:59:37 AM »
thanks everyone for all the input, for me I'm unable to travel
long distances to a tandy store.  therefore i'm somewhat at the mercy
of the stores judgement to pick out that right piece of leather for me.
and I might add that bites. a whole shoulder of leather is not cheap.
it's almost a crap shoot. the two nearest stores to are one in rapidcity,sd
about 8,hrs away the other near minneapolis,mn 3,1/2hrs away.
honest to goodness.