Jump to content
alancolyer

How Do I Finish The Flesh Side?

Recommended Posts

Hi all, long time lurker, first time poster.

I've read alot about finishing edges on my leather projects, and I've gotten results I'm mostly happy with.

However, on some projects, like archery bracers, I have a large area of flesh-side on the bottom which contacts the wearer's skin.

Depending on the peice of leather this is sometimes OK, other times a problem. I normally use veg-tan tooling leather, varying quality / types. The flesh side can be anything from almost smooth to furrier than your cat.

I've found that if I dye the flesh side, particularly if I use oil based dye (like Fiebing's oil dye) it becomes almost crusty and can feel like sandpaper.

I was wondering how others deal with this?

Here's some things I've tried in the past:

1. Dye with oil-dye, then coat with leather conditioner (beeswax with other stuff) and burnish, this seems to remove the sandpaper feel but can feel a little waxy afterwards

2. Line the flesh-side with suede - I like this, but it does require more leather and much more time for the glueing and stitching

3. Sand or lightly skive, dye with water-based dye, and burnish with gum trag - never gets totally smooth, will be undone with use

The answer may be "buy better leather" but I would be interested to know if there's a good way to come up with a reasonably smooth coloured finish on the flesh side.

Any help appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first choice of course you are already doing, . . . line it with suede. I personally will not make it any other way for my own use, . . .

But if someone insisted, . . . my choice would be several applications of an old fashioned product: 50/50 virgin bees wax and neatsfoot oil, . . . weigh them out on a scale, . . . equal weights of each, . . . put them in a jar in a crock pot or a pan on the stove, . . . melt them together.

I pour it out into a muffin pan that has muffin papers in it, . . . makes little waxy muffins.

THEN, . . . rub the hardened wax/oil product across the back and front, . . . like you were using a piece of chalk and trying to color it. Next, . . . hit it with a heat gun set on low or med, . . . you want to melt the wax, . . . and get the oil to penetrate with the melted wax. It'll take several coats, . . . you just play with it, . . . you will find the place you like it.

It will buff up to a nice shine if you want, . . . or you can leave it kinda dull, . . .

I basically use that product for all my "special" holsters, knife sheaths, etc. for those who want the old fashioned look and feel. BUT, . . . it is a great product and a great finish.

It does however, . . . make you have to sand that flesh side if there are bad sections, . . . you want it smooth to start out with.

May God bless,

Dwight

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's some different approaches. On the odd occasion I might use kote and burnish it well during the application. That seems to work pretty well for large areas that will be rubbing against something routinely. Alternatively, I'll stain & finish it the same way I do the grain side. I tend to use gel based stains and tan-kote for finish and so far I haven't had any problems. Installing a lining is a good solution, but time intensive and generally overkill for most projects.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just line everything. I don't like the flesh side hanging out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the replies - Dwight I might give that wax a shot, I have some pure beeswax already and can get neetsfoot (I have the compound which I think is different).

cheers :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dwight,

Is there a picture of this finish on your website?

I am not certain on the website, . . . I don't think so.

But this whole western belt and holster rig was done with it, . . . it is my personal "parade" rig, . . . so to speak.

It is a product of the John Bianchi video's, . . . and the 50/50 mix.

Pardon the scratches and digs, . . . it happens when you use a piece of equipment, . . .

May God bless,

Dwight

post-6728-0-26215000-1452386982_thumb.jp

post-6728-0-93952400-1452386988_thumb.jp

post-6728-0-33659700-1452386998_thumb.jp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

would snoseal work like the beeswax and neatsfoot mix?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

just reporting back, I tried the wax & neatsfoot mix and it worked perfectly. rubbed it on, used a heatgun to melt it in, then burnished for a great finish. worked well on even very fuzzy leather, and feels smooth enough, even has a nice shine.

thanks for the knowledge Dwight

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tried the snoseal, seems to have worked well also. I have been meaning to try and make my own waterproof mix, so ill make some up using beeswax and neatsfoot. there was a guy in the chat room the other night that also used the same formula as Dwight!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The easiest way to clean up a nasty flesh side is rough cut a piece larger than your project piece and just put it on a bench type belt sander, 100 or 120 usually does a nice finish, don't be shy just sand it until it cleans up, as long as you don't burn it you can't hurt it just clean it up, you can buy skirting that is sanded at the tannery made specifically for building rough out saddles, it's called " buffed " I think Hermann Oak is the only one I know of that does it but you can do any small piece just the same yourself

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The easiest way to get a clean flesh side is just sand it, a bench type belt sander works good for small projects, 120 grit works good as long as you don't burn it you can't hurt it, rough cut your project and sand it before you actually cut it to size / shape, you can buy skirting that's sanded at the tannery it's called " buffed " but it's easy to do yourself for small projects

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could also make the bracers flesh side out. You will still want to buff and finish. Nick's Boots, for example, offer the option of a flesh side out vamp because it wears better once it's waxed and oiled up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depending on how bad the flesh side is I have gotten good results with using a glycerin based soap .. Neutrogena at the moment but any of those kind of clear glycerin soaps. I think its something I picked up from a Dwight post as well. After dye and dry I take a little bowl of water and lather up my bar with a sponge and then apply it to my fuzzy side. I take a glass smoother/burnsher about 3 inches wide and pretty forcefully smooth down the leather. It looks great. I make it a habit now to do it to the inside of all my holsters and bags as it evens out the color and gives a nice slick surface and even feels good to the touch.

It will not hold up as long as the wax treatment but still .... you should give it a whirl since it has its applications and is cheap and fast to do with nice results.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/9/2016 at 7:05 AM, Dwight said:

My first choice of course you are already doing, . . . line it with suede. I personally will not make it any other way for my own use, . . .

But if someone insisted, . . . my choice would be several applications of an old fashioned product: 50/50 virgin bees wax and neatsfoot oil, . . . weigh them out on a scale, . . . equal weights of each, . . . put them in a jar in a crock pot or a pan on the stove, . . . melt them together.

I pour it out into a muffin pan that has muffin papers in it, . . . makes little waxy muffins.

THEN, . . . rub the hardened wax/oil product across the back and front, . . . like you were using a piece of chalk and trying to color it. Next, . . . hit it with a heat gun set on low or med, . . . you want to melt the wax, . . . and get the oil to penetrate with the melted wax. It'll take several coats, . . . you just play with it, . . . you will find the place you like it.

It will buff up to a nice shine if you want, . . . or you can leave it kinda dull, . . .

I basically use that product for all my "special" holsters, knife sheaths, etc. for those who want the old fashioned look and feel. BUT, . . . it is a great product and a great finish.

It does however, . . . make you have to sand that flesh side if there are bad sections, . . . you want it smooth to start out with.

May God bless,

Dwight

I am guessing that you buff in between coats ? how long do u wait until u buff it out  ?  I tried a old t-shirt once to buff with and it left blue lint on it so I switched to a old towel and that did fine,  I wonder if the t-shirt didn't work because I didn't wait long enough to buff  ? what do you use to buff with  ?   utah leather

 

Edited by utah leather

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Old towels and old  wash cloths work real good, . . . 

My tee shirts work real good, . . . don't have that lint thing you were talking about.  But all of mine are white, . . . colored tee's are grease rags for me.

May God bless,

Dwight

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is now an interesting thread on here about "suede", sanding, etc and associated points of view on a not dissimilar topic? readers of this thread will find some good info on this one?

From my personal point of view when I'm purchasing quality top grain hides I will ALWAYS take into account the nature of the flesh side.  Care and attention and maybe a bit more spent on the leather may get you hides with a much smoother, more uniform inner most surface?  Certainly you can often see hides where the flesh side is so ragged that you just know trying to sand it may prove to be a time consuming or even fruitless task . . the more you sand it the more fibres you pull loose! :crazy:  If the "wearer" won't be against it then, as above, oiling and waxing is often more effective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/9/2016 at 6:05 AM, Dwight said:

My first choice of course you are already doing, . . . line it with suede. I personally will not make it any other way for my own use, . . .

But if someone insisted, . . . my choice would be several applications of an old fashioned product: 50/50 virgin bees wax and neatsfoot oil, . . . weigh them out on a scale, . . . equal weights of each, . . . put them in a jar in a crock pot or a pan on the stove, . . . melt them together.

I pour it out into a muffin pan that has muffin papers in it, . . . makes little waxy muffins.

THEN, . . . rub the hardened wax/oil product across the back and front, . . . like you were using a piece of chalk and trying to color it. Next, . . . hit it with a heat gun set on low or med, . . . you want to melt the wax, . . . and get the oil to penetrate with the melted wax. It'll take several coats, . . . you just play with it, . . . you will find the place you like it.

It will buff up to a nice shine if you want, . . . or you can leave it kinda dull, . . .

I basically use that product for all my "special" holsters, knife sheaths, etc. for those who want the old fashioned look and feel. BUT, . . . it is a great product and a great finish.

It does however, . . . make you have to sand that flesh side if there are bad sections, . . . you want it smooth to start out with.

May God bless,

Dwight

I'm a beginner and have two questions about this method. Does this waterproof and would it rub off on cloth in or skin? 

 

Thanks! 

 

K

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, . . . Hoffman, . . . in all honesty, . . . I have never in 72 years seen leather that was made "waterproof".  Water repellent?  Yes, . . . water resistant?  Yes, . . . waterproof, . . . ain't gonna happen.  

Sooner or later just the using of the product will allow the "waterproof" coating to crack, . . . and so does the waterproof warranty.

The nearest was some guys I knew years ago would take vaseline petroleum jelly to their boots, . . . about a jar per boot, . . . and it would last a while, . . . but eventually even it gave out.

This product will make the item somewhat water repellent, . . . and that is about all.  The wax kinda knocks the heavy stuff away, . . . and the oil in the fibers repels most of what gets under the wax.  

It IS A GOOD product though, . . . well over 100 years old, . . . lots of people have used it for many decades.

NO, . . . it will not come off on your clothing once the wax has dried and been buffed good.  But this finish would not do that anyway, . . . what would happen is the dye not being properly buffed before this product is applied, . . . it might rub off.

May God bless,

Dwight

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of good ideas here, thanks! Quick question, what do you all do for nicely skived backs with no fuzz on a wallet? Do you seal them or leave them raw?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Sceaden said:

A lot of good ideas here, thanks! Quick question, what do you all do for nicely skived backs with no fuzz on a wallet? Do you seal them or leave them raw?

I have been having good luck with tokonole. You can get it here in the states from Rocky Mountain Leather. Slicks up nice with a glass slicker. Smells a little like Elmer's glue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lot's of good Knowledge up in here. Thanks for sharing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/9/2016 at 5:41 PM, alancolyer said:

Hi all, long time lurker, first time poster.

I've read alot about finishing edges on my leather projects, and I've gotten results I'm mostly happy with.

However, on some projects, like archery bracers, I have a large area of flesh-side on the bottom which contacts the wearer's skin.

Depending on the peice of leather this is sometimes OK, other times a problem. I normally use veg-tan tooling leather, varying quality / types. The flesh side can be anything from almost smooth to furrier than your cat.

I've found that if I dye the flesh side, particularly if I use oil based dye (like Fiebing's oil dye) it becomes almost crusty and can feel like sandpaper.

I was wondering how others deal with this?

Here's some things I've tried in the past:

1. Dye with oil-dye, then coat with leather conditioner (beeswax with other stuff) and burnish, this seems to remove the sandpaper feel but can feel a little waxy afterwards

2. Line the flesh-side with suede - I like this, but it does require more leather and much more time for the glueing and stitching

3. Sand or lightly skive, dye with water-based dye, and burnish with gum trag - never gets totally smooth, will be undone with use

The answer may be "buy better leather" but I would be interested to know if there's a good way to come up with a reasonably smooth coloured finish on the flesh side.

Any help appreciated.

looking back to me experience, I would agree and recommend #2 - lining. But not with a suede - try some thin and maybe strong leather.
Typically, I'd use kangaroo leather on the projects that require strength and long run term. Yes, it does require additional time to stitch, glue etc, but worst the money and the result.

Other methods, like tan kote, dying etc. - they have some simile moments - will not last long for a simple reason - flesh side absorbs water and other liquids fast.

All mentioned above is a moment of contact with wearer's skin.
Other projects depends on goals..

Edited by nrk
misword

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...