Suntailhawk

Help needed, my leather wouldnt harden :(

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Hi everyone,

I been trying to make water harden leather armor. but for some reason, the leather would simply shrink but not harden.

I did my research and ensured the following conditions:

- Water at 180 F

- Veg tan leather

- Pre soaking in room temp water (i tried both with and without)

- wait for the bubbling to stop and for the edge to curl

- making sure that there's no oil

 

Here is the kicker - I manage to produce a single successful test piece (it was without pre soak too), but I somehow cannot recreate it with the same pot, same tap water...  I tried switching up the pot/water sources too, and nothing

what am I missing here? my LARP has specific requirement around harden leather armor, so I really want to get this right.

Thank you in advance

 

 

 

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Ah,  yes, I've struggled a bit with this, too-- water hardening is often a hit or miss process that I spent a while playing with. 

So you got one test piece to work, and the next piece didn't -- was that a piece from the same hide? 

Everything you mentioned above shows  you did your homework-- but leather hardening seems much less a replicable science than a dicey art. 

The type of hide may make a difference, too: belly or shoulder or sides have different characteristics, and the same hide can vary, depending on which edge of the side the leather comes from. 
I've tried some with bellies, and they just don't harden well. I've had better luck with a side, but even then it's difficult to keep the dimensions intact (due to uneven stretching).
 

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One other thing you can do, . . . get it wet again, . . . but before you do, . . . find a place (not an oven either) where you can regulate the heat at 130 to 140 degrees F, . . .  closer to 140 the better.

Then get it wet, . . . not sopping, dripping, drooling wet, . . . just wet, . . . adjust whatever molding you want to, . . . then put it in the heat, . . . and leave it for about 3 hours.

If that don't do it, . . . then send me a PM, . . . I've got another trick or two for you.

But that really should work.  It always has for me.

(quick question, . . . how thick is your leather??)

May God bless,

Dwight

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6 minutes ago, Dwight said:

find a place (not an oven either) where you can regulate the heat at 130 to 140 degrees F, . . .  closer to 140 the better.

A possibility might be inside of a clothes dryer, using a sweater drying rack. I use this setup for drying leather finishes all the time. Works great.

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9 hours ago, DJole said:

Ah,  yes, I've struggled a bit with this, too-- water hardening is often a hit or miss process that I spent a while playing with. 

So you got one test piece to work, and the next piece didn't -- was that a piece from the same hide? 

Everything you mentioned above shows  you did your homework-- but leather hardening seems much less a replicable science than a dicey art. 

The type of hide may make a difference, too: belly or shoulder or sides have different characteristics, and the same hide can vary, depending on which edge of the side the leather comes from. 
I've tried some with bellies, and they just don't harden well. I've had better luck with a side, but even then it's difficult to keep the dimensions intact (due to uneven stretching).
 

If it wasn't for that random successful  piece, I would have given up already. I am still very close to just move on to plate armor.

But yes, all the pieces are from the same side. though I did not keep track which part of the cow it was.

Any chance the PH level, presence of rust in the water may make a difference?

 

4 hours ago, Dwight said:

One other thing you can do, . . . get it wet again, . . . but before you do, . . . find a place (not an oven either) where you can regulate the heat at 130 to 140 degrees F, . . .  closer to 140 the better.

Then get it wet, . . . not sopping, dripping, drooling wet, . . . just wet, . . . adjust whatever molding you want to, . . . then put it in the heat, . . . and leave it for about 3 hours.

If that don't do it, . . . then send me a PM, . . . I've got another trick or two for you.

But that really should work.  It always has for me.

(quick question, . . . how thick is your leather??)

May God bless,

Dwight

The leather are around 7 to 8 oz. As per my LARP group standard, leather armor needs to be minimum 5oz.

Are you referring to the curing method? I did something similar. it was with 200 F, and I left a piece in there for about 40 mins, it felt dried and hardened a bit, but not hard enough for what I need.

The standard I think is, unable to bend a piece past 30 degree with a single hand.

4 hours ago, LatigoAmigo said:

A possibility might be inside of a clothes dryer, using a sweater drying rack. I use this setup for drying leather finishes all the time. Works great.

I appreciate the suggestions, but I am fairly limited with what I have access to.  I have a toaster oven, a couple of pots... that's about it :(

Edited by Suntailhawk

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OK, . . . let's go back to the original:  wanting to make armor.  Must stand up to LARP standards.

NOW, . . . what size piece are we talking about??  Are you making a full body armor such as Roman generals wore, . . . or is it "fish scale" type armor made up of small 4 to 6 sq inch pieces, . . . or is it something totally different.

PICTURES would certainly help.

May God bless,

Dwight

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5 hours ago, Dwight said:

OK, . . . let's go back to the original:  wanting to make armor.  Must stand up to LARP standards.

NOW, . . . what size piece are we talking about??  Are you making a full body armor such as Roman generals wore, . . . or is it "fish scale" type armor made up of small 4 to 6 sq inch pieces, . . . or is it something totally different.

PICTURES would certainly help.

May God bless,

Dwight

 It's more like anime/fantasy armor. the plan was to water harden, die the pieces black, and do a antique metallic finish with metallic paint

 

 

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OK, . . . what you want to do is wet the pieces, . . . hang them in as near the shape as you want them, . . . get a 55 gallon drum liner, . . . make a bag that hangs open end down, use a garbage can lid or something to keep the top nice and big, . . . the heat will hang tight up in the top of that bag, . . . hang the leather in the bag, . . . and put a couple of 150 watt incandescent bulbs below the bag, . . . 

Check it every hour or so until you see how the first pieces come out.

OR, . . . if you have a furnace with floor ducts, . . . it might be hot enough if you hang the bag right over one of them.  

THEN, . . . get a bottle of Resolene, . . . mix it 50/50 with water and coat each piece inside and out.  After about 3 or 4 coats it will harden it up really good.  It'll also shine the heck out of it.

TRY . . . a piece with the metallic paint first, . . . the resolene may go over it with no problem, . . . but it will have to be dry first.  If not . . . take a piece of steel wool and lightly scuff the surface of the resolene, . . . then paint over top of it.

Have fun, . . . may God bless,

Dwight

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Why does your LARP group demand that you use leather, and not foam or plastic?

If you're actually going to do combat LARP in that costume, you may find those shoulder pieces (pauldrons, sort of?), as designed on the character, ineffective:
1) A hit downwards on those sticking-out pointed shoulders will put a LOT of stress on whatever is used to attach it to the rest of the armor. They stick out so far that it would be very difficult to prevent any hits to them.
2) A hit sideways onto the shoulder bits is going to be guided straight into that un-armored bicep, or maybe the hit will pop the shoulder piece up to smack you in the side of the head. 
3) If the arms are extended to the front, the shoulder pieces don't seem to be designed to turn 90 degrees to the front. Thus, if you arms are reaching out to the front, and you get hit on the shoulder piece, that will drive the edge of the armor into your arm. Depending on your weapon rules, that might hurt more than you want.  (Leather should just give you a welt or a bruise, but you wouldn't want that with metal!)
4)  Your LARP group (like most) may disallow hand shots, but those wrist bones are sensitive and tender, and getting a smack there might ruin your day. Plus, those "gauntlets" would dig into the wrist as you moved your hands, causing contusions and scrapes. Not very comfortable!

Edited by DJole

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10 hours ago, Dwight said:

OK, . . . what you want to do is wet the pieces, . . . hang them in as near the shape as you want them, . . . get a 55 gallon drum liner, . . . make a bag that hangs open end down, use a garbage can lid or something to keep the top nice and big, . . . the heat will hang tight up in the top of that bag, . . . hang the leather in the bag, . . . and put a couple of 150 watt incandescent bulbs below the bag, . . . 

Check it every hour or so until you see how the first pieces come out.

OR, . . . if you have a furnace with floor ducts, . . . it might be hot enough if you hang the bag right over one of them.  

THEN, . . . get a bottle of Resolene, . . . mix it 50/50 with water and coat each piece inside and out.  After about 3 or 4 coats it will harden it up really good.  It'll also shine the heck out of it.

TRY . . . a piece with the metallic paint first, . . . the resolene may go over it with no problem, . . . but it will have to be dry first.  If not . . . take a piece of steel wool and lightly scuff the surface of the resolene, . . . then paint over top of it.

Have fun, . . . may God bless,

Dwight

Might take some time to get all that stuff, but that's a clever trick. Thank you

7 hours ago, DJole said:

Why does your LARP group demand that you use leather, and not foam or plastic?

If you're actually going to do combat LARP in that costume, you may find those shoulder pieces (pauldrons, sort of?), as designed on the character, ineffective:
1) A hit downwards on those sticking-out pointed shoulders will put a LOT of stress on whatever is used to attach it to the rest of the armor. They stick out so far that it would be very difficult to prevent any hits to them.
2) A hit sideways onto the shoulder bits is going to be guided straight into that un-armored bicep, or maybe the hit will pop the shoulder piece up to smack you in the side of the head. 
3) If the arms are extended to the front, the shoulder pieces don't seem to be designed to turn 90 degrees to the front. Thus, if you arms are reaching out to the front, and you get hit on the shoulder piece, that will drive the edge of the armor into your arm. Depending on your weapon rules, that might hurt more than you want.  (Leather should just give you a welt or a bruise, but you wouldn't want that with metal!)
4)  Your LARP group (like most) may disallow hand shots, but those wrist bones are sensitive and tender, and getting a smack there might ruin your day. Plus, those "gauntlets" would dig into the wrist as you moved your hands, causing contusions and scrapes. Not very comfortable!

That's just the rules they got, they are pretty strict with armors.

I am going to do a number of of changes to make it more comfortable.  especially that shoulder piece. but you made some good points. Perhaps I should revise the design a bit more.

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Actually the "drying bag" is an extension of my "drying box" I have.

It's about 12 by 18 and 48 inches tall.  Full door on the 18 x 48 front.

Put a couple of hanger hooks in the top, . . . 3 each, 100 watt incandescent light bulbs sit on the bottom, . . . thermometer sticks out the door up topside.

I've never heard about the 180 deg water for hardening  leather, . . . but I can tell you for a fact that 135 to 145 deg dry heat from those light bulbs will dry out and harden a holster almost to the point you could use it as a weapon.

Don't recall who (someone on here) sparked the idea, . . . but I ran with it, . . . and use it occasionally if I see a real need for it.

The bag is a cheap alternative.

May God bless,

Dwight

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On 2/2/2019 at 5:59 AM, Dwight said:

Actually the "drying bag" is an extension of my "drying box" I have.

It's about 12 by 18 and 48 inches tall.  Full door on the 18 x 48 front.

Put a couple of hanger hooks in the top, . . . 3 each, 100 watt incandescent light bulbs sit on the bottom, . . . thermometer sticks out the door up topside.

I've never heard about the 180 deg water for hardening  leather, . . . but I can tell you for a fact that 135 to 145 deg dry heat from those light bulbs will dry out and harden a holster almost to the point you could use it as a weapon.

Don't recall who (someone on here) sparked the idea, . . . but I ran with it, . . . and use it occasionally if I see a real need for it.

The bag is a cheap alternative.

May God bless,

Dwight

Just curious, what do you put the the light bulbs on? like a desk lamp?

21 hours ago, HeatherAthebyne said:

Oh, this essay is amazing! Looks like Stearic acid is the way to go

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1 minute ago, Suntailhawk said:

Just curious, what do you put the the light bulbs on? like a desk lamp?

 

Actually all I did was mount 3 porcelain pull chain fixtures to the bottom of the box, . . . wired em up, . . . put a switch on the box, . . . installed the bulbs, . . . voila, . . . it works.

May God bless,

Dwight

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Here are some pics, . . . actually used 4 bulbs, . . . thought it was only three.  Go to Lowes, . . . buy the lumber and usually they'll cut it for you.  At least I can usually get them to do it, . . . I explain it has to fit in my Jeep.

You can't see the hooks in the picture, . . . they are at the top, . . . put a coat hanger in there with whatever needs dried / hardened.  

I will probably go with smaller bulbs later on, . . . this dries em out just a tad fast for me. 

May God bless,

Dwight

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