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scooby   

There has been some discussion regarding colouring leather using vinagaroon in the past so here is how I make and use it.

Note! - I am certainly no authority on this - It is just how I do it! :surrender:

MAKING VINEGAROON

'Ingredients' – Steel wool & Distilled Vinegar

This batch was made using an old brillo pad which was washed till no soap remained then left to rust in a jar.

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To speed the rusting along I rinse the wool with a little water then pour out the excess to keep it damp for a few days.

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Fill up your jar with the wool in it with distilled vinegar (this is Tesco value brand!)

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And give it a good shake – it will look like brown muddy sludge – NOTE – ensure you loosen off the lid aftwards! (it will produce gas and build up pressure while 'brewing' and it can explode if you leave the lid firmly on.

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After a few days it will look like this – you can see the bubbles still being produced!

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Lock the lid back on and give it another good shake before loosening off and leaving for another couple of days – repeat this for about a week till the wool is dissolved away.

It will probably still be cloudy sludge looking so I filter through a piece of kitchen paper to take out the big bits

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Once filtered it should look a little like weak back tea – ENSURE you label it well!

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You can use it straight away but I have found it better to leave it a couple of days to 'mature' – it kinda clears and looks more like a liquid rather than a solution if that makes sense.

USING VINEGAROON

It's simple - really simple! Either dip your veg tanned leather into the solution or daub / brush it on. It starts to darken almost immediately. You may have to do 2 or 3 applications to get the colour you want although it does darken and look better once it is oiled or waxed (I use mink oil)

To neutralize the acid I soak a couple of times in a strong bicarbonate of soda solution then finally rinse in clean water.

Here is a before shot of my demo piece of leather beside a white sheet of paper

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A link to a(poor and out of focus) video of the process to show the speed of the change

And finally a pic of the result (before neutralizing and oiling!)

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Please note this is not a dye - it changes the structure of the leather itself so it will not wear off - however I find it gives a more even effect and is very quick and cheap!

FINALLY..... ONE I MADE EARLIER!

A sheath I made to show the effect on an actual piece

hpim1161dr9.jpg

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TinyL   

great tutorial scooby. The pix make it easier to follow. Thanks so much!

TinyL

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TroyS   

Couldn't have said it better Scooby! Great Tutorial! That's almost exactly how I make mine. The only thing I do differently is use new 4x steel wool. I don't want traces of soap in my mixture. Other than that, exactly the same! And after, I rub mine with neatsfoot oil!

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On a lot of the recent posts re: vinegaroon I've seen this about rusting the iron first and I'm curious as to why? While I have used old rusty iron at times, I normally use new iron/steel (mostly scraps from my knifemaking or de-greased steel wool ) and it works just fine - the whole process is after all to have the iron dissolved by the acetic acid in the vinegar to produce ferric acetate - which by the way can be purchased in crystal form from science supply companys, if you don't want to fuss with making the mixture...

I don't claim to be an expert, but I have been using this process for staining leather (as well as woods such as curly maple) for 35+ years and have never intentionally pre-rusted the iron????

FWIW - here's an original recipe from 1875:

VINEGAR BLACK (aka Vinegaroon)

For giving color to the grain of leather there is no blacking that will at all compare with the well known vinegar black. This may be made in various ways. The simplest, and, without doubt, the best, is to procure shavings from an iron turner and cover them with pure cider vinegar; heat up and set aside for a week or two, then heat again and set in a cool place for two weeks; pour off the vinegar, allow it to stand for a few days, and draw off and cork up in bottles. This will keep for a long time, and, while producing a deep black on leather, will not stain the hands.

Note no rusting mentioned.......heating speeds the process some what, but is not absolutley necessary.......

As for changing the structure of the leather - not exactly - vinegar black is what is technically known as a chemical re-agent - the ferric acetate reacts with the tannins in the leather to produce the black color - in fact washing the leather with a strong black tea or coffe solution will speed/enhance teh blac color - this can be done first or after applying the vinegar black.....

And sorry I DO NOT mean this to sound negative at all - the tutorial is otherwise a very good one, but I have been meaning to ask "why"? especially since pre-rusting may possibly be counterproductive since by doing so you have changed the nature of the iron from the blue/black stage to the red/brown stage

As always others mileage will vary.......

PS - I've got a gunrig I just finished with vinegaroon made from new iron and as soon as I get picks I'll post them.....

Edited by ChuckBurrows

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scooby   

Thanks for the comments Chuck and i'm not in the least offended - after all i'm just a newbee to this game after all!

I have no idea about the rustyness - i read that is what it should be like so that is what I have always done.....

also I understand re 'changing the leather' its just that It was the best way I could think of to describe the fact it isn't a stain to people :rolleyes:

to be honest I wondered re rusting too - i'll try a batch without somewhen and see if there is a differance.

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TwinOaks   

I think the reference to "rusty" metal may have come from the requirement to use "rustable" metal...simply the need for an oxidizable iron based metal.

...which reminds me (and I don't remember which thread to look in) but didn't someone say they were going to try copper and aluminum and post results?

I remember that walnuts were used to make a pretty nice brown, but I'm not sure about the other colors.

Oh and if you use "too much" metal in the jar, you'll end up with some pitiful looking scraps in the bottom and your vinegaroon will be almost chemically neutral. I say almost because after several weeks, the acetic acid had stopped reacting with the metal and direct exposure to baking soda produced NO REACTION. So, rinse well with warm tap water and wet mold.

Edited by TwinOaks

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I've used Chuck's method of making vinegaroon for a couple years, now. I clean the steel wool with lighter fluid then shake out most of it and burn off the excess. When it's cool enough to touch I put it in the vinegar. One of those big 0000 pads in a quart of vinegar works great. I never strain it or anything. I suppose I should but it never occurred to me. I can get a beautiful rich black in a couple of days with a new batch.

Here's a picture of a holster done with it. Oops. Wrong pic. Here's the right one.

IMG_5715.JPG

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Edited by MarshalWill

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AndyL1   

Thanks for the great post. i can't wait to make some of this and try it out. The results from your photos look amazing.

-Andy

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cudofcow   

I just made a batch of this stuff and tried it out! Vinegaroon is MAGICAL STUFF!!! So cool to watch the leather change colors!

I do have a couple of questions though. What is the average shelf life of this mixture? Does it seperate over time? Can it be kept in a glass container for extended periods of time?

Also, a solution of bicarbonate was mentioned....what is that? What would this be necessary for?

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I keep mine in mason jars. I never really tighten the tops but I suppose I could. The stuff gives a nice, rich black for over a year. I have some that's a couple of years old. It produces a medium grey which is fine as a base for a nice dark brown color. I can rejuvenate it but it's nice to have the grey so I just make more when needed. Yeah, it is magical. I don't use black dye anymore unless it's with leather that doesn't take the color.

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ramrod   

bicarbonate is simply baking soda. it's used for reducing the acid level in the leather after you apply the vinegaroon.

this is a great thread....but i have a question.....and i don't mean to hijack this thread.

say someone were to make a belt and make it two colors....maybe red for the body and outline the stitching area in black, could you simply dye the piece red and apply the vinegaroon to the perimeter? in other words, how does the vinegaroon affect already applied dye? or would you apply the vinegaroon to the perimeter and then dye the interior with the other color? i don't have any made to try this out.

Edited by ramrod

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I like the color. What is done afterwards as far as finishes? can you oil it, apply acrylic sealers, etc? Im going to pic up some vinegar and steel wool after work tomorrow and maybe by this weekend I can give it a try.

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After the baking soda bath and rinse has dried completely, I put EVOO and Lexol conditioner on it. A light coat of EVOO seems to help neutralize the acids in the leather. After that, I think it's mostly personal preference.

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Thank you Scooby for the tutorial, you have inspired me to make some and use it for myself.

Here's the result of a holster for a cordless drill I posted on another thread here.

I couldn't have done it without you.

post-17884-093990400 1296682392_thumb.jp

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Wolfsax   

Awesome tutorial! Would love to see this pinned please :D

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Great tutorial, I set some brewing just over a week and tried it out today on a piece of scrap veg tanned leather, it produced a lovely deep black so I think I'll start using this for some things.

I have a couple of questions though about transfer of the ferric acetate once dried and a concern over transfer onto tools etc.

I may want to tool some of this leather at some point. Would you suggest tooling first then applying the vinegaroon with a brush rather than soaking? I'm concerned about some of the compound sticking and transferring to my stamps etc.

Is it probable that if I make a mixed piece of natural and vinegaroon treated leather that I will get some contamination and darkening of the natural leather? I noticed on the test piece that even fingerprints were transferring to the bit I was holding. Would a coat of supersheen stop this?

Cheers,

Andy

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Andy, I've founfd that it is a whole lot easier to tool before I use the vinegar black. I've done it both ways and if you do it after, it seems you have to work harder to get the imprint of the tooling. Don't know why. I just do it before now and I dip the entire piece for 1 minute and then let it rest for 10 minutes the dip it in a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart warm water then wash it all off with warm, running water. As far as the transfer to tools or the transfer of fingerprints.........vinegaroon is a chemical reaction with the tannings that are used n the leather processing. It "blacks" thru an thru and I've never had any thranferring. I do wipe it off several times before putting my finish of resolene /water on it, but I don't think it should transfer if it has been fully dried and a finish coat put on it. I am not an expert...I learned this from the tutorial on this forum and another one on the CasCity forum. Semper-fi MIke

Edited by marine mp

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I tried this but didn't know to degrease the steel wool. I poured and strained half the mix but it appears black in the jar. When I dip the brush in and apply it it looks like water, yet the blackening begins almost immediately. The remainder is a dark reddish brown with rusted bits in the bottom. I plan on straining that today and see what it does. When I worked in book/document repair/conservation tea was an integral part of antiquing new paper.

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lazybum   

Just checking stainless steel wool probably doesn't work right?Anyone tried it before?

Edited by lazybum

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I suspect the only thing that could happen with stainless wool is that the vinegar would clean it. In food processing, they build stainless machinery so there won't be oxidation (rust) contamination of the food. No rust = no oxidation = no vinegaroon.

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I was just going to ask if I need to remake my batch... I suspect so.

I grabbed the nearest steel-wool I could find and turns out it was Stainless.

I tried a bit of leather in it tonight (its been brewing a week or a little more) and it only made the leather kinda... muddy looking.

I'll try again with regular steel-wool.

2 questions remain...

1. Should I keep the stuff i have and see if it improves? How long would I expect to let it sit before deciding its a lost cause?

2. How should it smell on the leather? I'm betting 'vinegary' is part of it. But I would best describe this as... pond mud and vinegar. Or, old tackle-box and vinegar...

Also, while looking around for info i found this forum post http://www.aawforum.org/vbforum/showpost.php?p=33699&postcount=4

Has anyone tried using ferrous sulfate instead?

Edited by Wayward Shrimp

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I was out today to get some steel wool and vinegar to start my batch over (Its bubbling away in the closet now) and looked about for Iron Sulfate. They had a large bag in the gardening section of the hardware store. Maybe I'll go this route next time, but in case it didn't work I didn't want to be stuck with a big bag of it, I got Iron tablets from the grocery store.

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Anyway, I crushed up 2-3 tablets and mixed it with hot water, and dipped some scraps into the solution.

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It seams to have worked! I'm not sure if the color is on par with the classic Vinegaroon recipe, but it sure was faster to make. The oval piece was the one I tried to treat with my stainless steel batch... I suspect thats why the color is worse, the scraps are the peices cut out from around it.

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I am not sure how long this lasts, or how large a project it will treat.

Edited by Wayward Shrimp

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lazybum   

I was out today to get some steel wool and vinegar to start my batch over (Its bubbling away in the closet now) and looked about for Iron Sulfate. They had a large bag in the gardening section of the hardware store. Maybe I'll go this route next time, but in case it didn't work I didn't want to be stuck with a big bag of it, I got Iron tablets from the grocery store.

post-19683-058822800 1298748989_thumb.jp

Anyway, I crushed up 2-3 tablets and mixed it with hot water, and dipped some scraps into the solution.

post-19683-006203800 1298748993_thumb.jp

It seams to have worked! I'm not sure if the color is on par with the classic Vinegaroon recipe, but it sure was faster to make. The oval piece was the one I tried to treat with my stainless steel batch... I suspect thats why the color is worse, the scraps are the peices cut out from around it.

post-19683-034767500 1298748994_thumb.jppost-19683-041541700 1298748991_thumb.jp

I am not sure how long this lasts, or how large a project it will treat.

God damn this method might just be a winner. No smell no need to wait for weeks...

Wonder if all iron tablets will work?

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God damn this method might just be a winner. No smell no need to wait for weeks...

Wonder if all iron tablets will work?

I made sure to check the ingredients for 'ferrous sulfate" or "iron sulfate" some said "in the form of" other was just in the ingredients.

And like i mentioned you can get a huge (to me) bag at the garden center of a hardware store that doesn't have to be crushed or have the other stuff tablets do.

I mostly do small projects so I figured tablets and small batches is fine for me.

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Ferrous sulphate will do the job but it is NOT good for the leather...the sulphate form of iron increases the risk for what is known as red rot many fold....

Not all iron in solution is the same....use what you like but beware of the problems or potential problems....what may be safely used on wood is as noted in that article is not necessarily safe to use on leather or recommended.......and if all he's getting is a "filthy black mess" he did something wrong and vinegar black never goes off after a few days as he stated the ferrous sulphate mix does....

and whay folks today are in such a goldarned hurry still escapes me.......

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