masterjuggler

Conditioning Leather

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I made a 6ft nylon bullwhip a few months ago, and happened to come across quite a bit of seemingly good quality 2-3oz vegetable tanned cow hide recently. I'm assuming it's cow hide, but I at least know it's veggie tanned from the curling in boiling water test. So of course, I've just got to make a whip out of this stuff.

Bear with me here, as I'm very new to leatherwork. I've tried to research as much as possible, but with my limited knowledge comes limited research capabilities. I am getting "How to Make Whips" by Ron Edwards at some point, but I haven't bought it yet. If you even link pertinent threads for me to read through, that'd be great.

I've got a few questions:

1) How exactly should I clean the hide before cutting it into strands? It has some kind of white dirt in the crevices, so it'll need to be cleaned somehow. It could conceivably be mold, but it looks very light and stread out over large areas, so I'm hoping it's not.

2) I seem to recall something about greasing the strands before and during braiding? Can anyone give me any info on things like what the grease is and how/when it should be applied? In my mind, grease is what I lubricate my bike suspension fork with haha.

3) How strong should hide be for it to be "whip-worthy"? I cut a 1/8" strand about 6" long, and it took most of my strength to break it, but it wasn't impossible.

4) Is stretching cow hide any different from the normal kangaroo hide? More than that, how hard should I pull on it when I stretch it, if I even need to?

Thanks for the help.

Edited by masterjuggler

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I have used Murphy's Oil Soap to clean some pretty grungy leather. I've also used the Montana Pitchblend Oil Soap to do the same. I think the Montana Pitchblend might be a little better with leather that hasn't had any treatment, but for a really nasty saddle or other piece of tack, Murphy's is my go to cleaner.

Grease it with Pecard's. For Motorcycle Seats and lubing lace, I use Pecard's, for anything else, I use Montana Pitchblend oil or paste. I could maybe get by with MP for everything, but I started with Pecard's way way way back.

Art

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I actually happen to have Murphy's Oil Soap on hand, but it's the stuff with orange extract in it. Does that matter, or should I get the stuff without it?

How do you usually go about cleaning with it? Just spray on, scrub a bit, and wipe off?

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I don't know what the orange does. I usually spray it on diluted with a little water, scrub it if necessary and wipe off with a damp/wet rag. Some of the stuff I've worked on, you have to go over it more than once. I know someone who took after a saddle with a pressure washer, I don't recommend that.

Art

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Tried using it diluted 1:2 with water (~33% murphy) and after going over some spots twice, some white was still visible. Ended up spraying it onto the leather straight from the bottle and immediately scrubbing with a damp rag, then again with a clean damp rag. There's still slight traces of it left, but after 2 hours of wiping it down, I'm calling it good haha. Do you think these traces of white could come back to haunt me? I don't have the dressing on hand, I'll have to order that online.

If anyone knows #'s 3 and 4 from my OP, help is greatly appreciated.

I'll be sure to post pics as I make progess on this whip.

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All of that white stuff seems to be gone for good after the murphy. Thanks for the tip.

Should I be cutting the strands before or after using the pecards dressing? I tried cutting some test strands to get a feel for it, and because the leather is so thin (about 1mm), it's card to keep the cuts straight. It also doesn't take too kindly to being skived or having little bits taken off the side when trimming to size after being stretched.

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Unless the skin in really, really, dry, use Pecard's before lacing. If the hide is really dry, treat with Pecard's and let it set for a day or two. Then still grease it lightly before lacing. The Pecard's helps with the lacing, and the strands usually "take up" the Pecard's so the final product isn't greasy.

Art

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Just to be sure, when you say "grease it lightly before lacing," you mean give the hide a light coat of Pecards as I'm cutting the lace, or do you mean with some other kind of grease?

Speaking of which, should I use some kind of grease AS I'm braiding or is it enough to have used Pecards beforehand?

I'm still waiting for the Pecards in the mail, which should be here in a day or so.

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After you cut the lace and before you braid, apply a light to medium coat of Pecard's to help in the braiding process.

Art

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25 hours in, I've finished four bellies and I'm almost done cutting out the overlay strands. Made sure to put quite a bit of pecard's on the bellies so it won't dry out for a long, long time.

It occured to me that I don't have any thick leather for the fall, only this 1mm cowhide. After conditioning, I can't break a 5mm wide strand with my bare hands. Would this suffice, or should I suck it up and buy a fall online?

I can also make it out of paracord pretty easily if worse comes to worse, which would never break and need to be replaced anyway.

I'll post pics once the whip is done.

Edited by masterjuggler

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1mm is going to be a little thin for a fall. I would go with a white fall for a bullwhip, that is more a personal preference kind of thing. I big piece of 11 or 12 oz bull back would also work.

Art

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I clean with Saddle Soap bars shaved into water to make a cloudy water. Then condition after dying with Lexol. For conditioning I do light coats over several days depending on how supple I need the leather to be.

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Do you think I could possibly make a braided fall using the thin cowhide? I'm thinking two strands double the length of the finished fall, folded in half to make a loop at one end for the knot.

unless I can find a thick piece of leather soon, I'll probably end up making it out of parachute cord. I figure if I ever come across the right leather or buy it, the fall can always be replaced.

Edited by masterjuggler

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Hey, it's been a while and I realized I never actually posted photos like I said I would. 

I did end up braiding the fall to begin with and it functioned pretty well, but looked awkward so I got a proper red hide fall from David Morgan. I also redid the butt know because I wasn't happy with it the first time. The braid overall is nice and tight and it cracks beautifully.

Took a little over 50 hours of cutting and braiding, from start to finish. I probably spent double that researching. Came out pretty well for my first leather whip I think.

Thanks for the tips I got back then.

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Edited by masterjuggler

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Nice work. I really like it.

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