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I have dyed a project with Fiebings Oil Dye (Light Brown) & put Bag Kote on as a final coat. It has turned my project into Dark-Dark Brown (9 or 10 shades darker than I started with).

If I want the project to remain Light Brown what should I use as a final coat or will all of the final coat products darken. If I want Light Brown should I start out maybe using Saddle Tan?

Thanks for your input.

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Hi, Tom. I just started using some color dyes last year, having done everything for years only in the classic oiled tan finish or black. I noticed right away that the oil dyes will react as you describe when finished with other products (neatsfoot oil in particular will significantly darken the dyed piece).

Personally, I have switched over to spirit-based dyes, and have been diluting those with isopropyl alcohol for a little better control in getting the shading that I want. I've also been dying by immersion rather than by surface application methods. I like the deeper color penetration that this provides.

On a recent project I was using several weights of veg-tanned leather (9-oz. belt, 7-8 oz holster with 3 oz. lining, 6 oz. pouch), all from different hides. Customer wanted a dark tan shade. After some experimentation on small pieces cut from the stock to be used, I ended up with a dye mixture made up using a single 4-oz. bottle of Fiebings British Tan diluted with about 1.5 pints of isopropyl alcohol. The pouch took one application, the holster took two, and the belt took three, at which point I had a good color match when dried. Final finish of neatsfoot oil, allowed to settle in overnight, followed by the Bag Kote, and the end result was a very nice dark tan right on the verge of a light brown. I still have that batch of dye, with enough left for several more similar projects, so the cost per piece is acceptable ($5 for small bottle of dye and about $3 worth of alcohol, $8 total for enough to dye a dozen pieces or more).

I seldom go to this much effort for any single project, but this customer has given me his business for a long time so I wanted to make him happy.

For my usual production I stick with classic oiled tan (undyed), dark cordovan brown, and black. These are easy to repeat, so it speeds up the whole process considerably for general production.

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