Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Praxis: Preparing Leather for the Field
This just in from Doctor Enigma:
In this day of MOLLE, Cordura, Gortex, and Nylon belts, vests, holsters and sheaths, one might not stop to think about how to properly waterproof leather accouterments prior to going to the field. Being there are still many people who use leather knife sheaths, holsters, and pouches of varying types on their gear. This method might be of some use.
Step 1: Clean the leather of all dirt, mud, etc, and let dry thoroughly. Set it by your home heater vent or in the sun for a day or two.
Step 2: While the leather is drying, go buy a jar of SNO-SEAL for about $5. If it isn't in your area, here's the on-line source: http://www.atsko.com/products/waterproofing/sno-seal.html
Step 3: Get a pice of heavy duty tin foil large enough for the item to sit on and have about 4 inches clearance from the edge all the way around. Double thick if you only have regular strength foil.
Step 4: Turn your oven on to about 175 degrees and let it pre-heat. This heat is enough to warm the leather, melt the SNO SEAL and expedite the absorption of the SNO SEAL by the leather.
Step 5: While your oven is heating, take a paper towel or soft cloth that doesn't shed lint and smear the SNO SEAL inside and out liberally so there's a thick coat on it, especially over any stitching, on one side.
Step 6: Put the item on the tin foil and put the whole thing in the oven on the middle rack.
Step 7: Check on it every 5 minutes or so while the SNO SEAL melts and is absorbed into the leather. If you notice any signs that the temperature is too hot, take the item out of the oven and turn down the oven in 25 degree increments until it stops. It shouldn't be a problem, but just in case....
Step 8: When the leather has absorbed all the SNO SEAL, take it out and while still warm/hot, turn it over and coat the other side of the item with the SNO SEAL and repeat the process of baking it into the item. Make sure you coat any areas with stitching very thickly.
Step 9: Once the second side is done, take the item out of the oven and let cool. When it's cool to the touch, check for any areas that didn't absorb the SNO SEAL well. Let the item stand for a couple days, and then repeat until the leather will not absorb SNO SEAL anymore. You'll know this because when it melts in the oven, the leather will just have the liquified SNO SEAL pooling on it.
Step 10: Take a soft cloth and buff the excess off.
Once you've got a SNO SEAL impregnated leather accouterment, you'll find that it withstands weather, heat, cold, rain, and anything else (like mud) very, very well. You might have to recoat it every couple years, but that's about it.