what to use to stiffen leather?
Posted 29 March 2009 - 12:04 PM
Posted 12 April 2009 - 07:29 AM
In this case I used Tandy's Super Sheen to finish....don't use it much anymore except on black dyed stuff....and to this day they are still pretty stiff.
I would expect, however that if the bag is used regularly, it will break down some in time.
Posted 29 April 2009 - 05:46 PM
As an aside: Wonderful site and forums! I am coming back to leather carving after a 10+ year hiatus and this has been a wonderful resource. I can tell that many of you have forgotten more about leathercraft than I have ever known. Thank you all for your insight.
Posted 30 April 2009 - 11:29 AM
What does the Ammonia do?
My two cents...
I'll dip my piece in relatively hot water (hot enough that I can still leave my hand in it and not get scalded). I've been adding a drop of dish detergeant to my water bath since it acts as an agent to break up surface tension and allows the water to get into the leather quicker and more uniform. Depending on the type of leather you are using (and weight), you may only need to leave it in for a few seconds or it might take up to a minute. If you have the really dried out sun baked leather like the stuff called Craftsmans Grade at Tandy's, it'll take longer - better leather needs less soaking. Now mold the leather to the shape you want. At this point, this is the step that I have found to have the best effect on stiffening the leather. I place my piece in front of one of those ceramic heaters with the little fan. It seems to "temper" the leather and seems to lock in the form. I don't put it so close that it gets hot, i just set it about two feet away and let the warm air dry it out. I'll usually leave it there for 6 - 8 hours. Voila, stiffened leather. Finish as you see fit.
I have not tried drying it under the sun but, that might work too. But, if your going to dye any color other than black, you might have some issues with the UV rays darkening your leather. You're also a bit limited to working only on warm sunny days. I live near Cleveland and we don't get very many of those.
Hope this helps.
Posted 30 April 2009 - 05:29 PM
Posted 01 May 2009 - 07:52 AM
So, what did you end up doing and how did it turn out?
Posted 01 May 2009 - 11:38 AM
thanks , tony
Posted 01 May 2009 - 02:27 PM
thanks , tony
I always mold first then use a deglazer before I dye. I've never had any issues with the detergent acting like a blocker. Realistically, I'm only using a drop in about a gallon of water. Maybe it doesn't do anything at all but I started doing it the same time that I started placing my pieces in front of the heater to dry. It works for me so I'll continue to do it. It seems to make sense to me that the detergent would help. I think what's really going on is that the water is acting as an agent to relieve the oils from the leather itself and thus creating a way for the leather fibers to bind closer together. We've all seen the Dawn Dish Detergent commercial where a drop of soap disperses the grease in an instant.
Maybe someone with a chemistry background or more knowledge on this subject could chime in and tell us exactly what the wet molding process is actually doing and if any of these additives are truly necessary.
Posted 03 June 2012 - 06:15 PM
Edited by The Leather Monkey, 03 June 2012 - 06:18 PM.
Posted 03 June 2012 - 11:17 PM
I have tried the diluted white glue method with great results. I have also tried adding alcohol to your water when wet forming works as well. Be sure to burnish or round the edges in some way before hardening. Some corners can get very sharp if you don't. A vendor at a recent festival had some masks that were uncomfortable to wear because the edges were not rounded off.
Another way to harden is to spray a clear acrylic sealer inside and out. It basically turns the leather into a rubbery material that will hold it's shape well. It works on masks, but I haven't tried it on anything else.
Posted 21 June 2012 - 10:25 PM
First background on what makes leather soft
Leather from the tannery is soft and supple b/c as part of the process they treat it with oils which absorb into the leather. These oils are not volatile meaning they are slow to evaporate so the leather will stay soft for years. But over time if not reconditioned the leather will harden. Now the oils they use and how they do it, is a highly protected secret. Every tannery does this different resulting from years of experience this is why good leather comes from old tanneries. Regardless of the intricate details of the process they all involve large tumblers most made of wood. I would guess the tumbling action would be to work a hydrophobic material(oil) into wet (hydrophyllic) leather. The process is similar to putting conditioner in your hair or rubbing lotion on your skin. The old time mountain man way involves a lot of manual pulling and rubbing.
What makes leather rigid
Any solvent that extracts(removes) this oil from the leather will stiffen it. Hot water, warm water, cool water, water with soap are all good. Just think to yourself will this remove oil? Even urine b/c it has ammonia which leads me to yes ammonia will remove oil, that's why it's such a good cleaning solvent. No time to wait for drying use 70% IPA(isopropanol or rubbing alcohol). The question is how much to soak for how long in what solvent? This is up to you to experiment with, to come up with your own secret process. This is part of the art after all.
Other thing to consider
Fiebing prep & dye cleaner is ~97% ethanol 3% Ammonia by volume. This is to remove the oil in order for the water soluble dye to absorb. Companies have to tell what their solvent are in their MSDS, Fiebings prep is here -> http://siri.org/msds/f2/cgq/cgqdw.html
Water soluble dyes will stiffen leather, oil dyes not so much
Leather that is too stiff becomes brittle and will break and tear easier, find the happy medium if you need your project to stiffen up
Leather cleaners and conditioners work b/c they put oil back into the leather.
Oil in the leather fills the pores, when the oil is extracted and replaced with a volatile solvent(water, ethanol, IPA etc) these spaces collapse. This is what makes the leather shrink.
Elmers glue diluted in water - awesome idea but elmers glue dissolves in water after it cures so if the mask gets wet some thin fine cuts may start to bend. Water proof wood glue (not the polyurethane type) is water resistant after it cures.
hope this helps!
Posted 21 June 2012 - 11:59 PM
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