Leather Care

Assorted leather care articles will be stored here. Find tips and tricks to care for your leather.

Removing Spots and Restoring Hard Leather

In reference to spots after saddle soaping, oiling and conditioning, these spots can be from hard spots or simply where oil and/ or conditioner failed to penetrate properly. When I am finishing a saddle with the Oak Brand Conditioner, I just continue working the conditioner in this area. Eventually most of the time spots will go away.

Hard leather: This is generally caused by leather that has lost most oil in the cells as the leather has become wet. When leather dries this, too is often due to being out under the direct sun. Leather will dry up, shrink, and curl. (See Professional Restoration Kit). The damage on some leather can be so bad that the leather will just flake apart. Some leather can be very carefully brought back to its fine luster.

Dried leather on Cinch Strap Billets Off Straps must be replaced for safety. It is very dangerous to prolong replacement. When something snaps or breaks, it most likely will spook your horse.  In so doing you risk injury to you and/or your horse.

Ride Safe
____ Ed ‘Oak’ Mathieus

More Leather Knowledge

More Leather Knowledge

Read the following leather types first…

Leather types:

1) Saddle Skirting- Half a cow-hide tanned, and the skin thickness can be (16G 5/8 of a inch.
This is part of  this forum which if I had limited knowledge of leather, I would pay close attention here, for even though it’s leather…………..that’s a mouth full in its self, and I would read all of the leather articles.
2) Full Hide – approximately 57 Sq. Ft.
3) Grain Surface Coloring – Tanning with dyes also surface coating.
4) Saddle Skirting Thickness – Light, Medium, Heavy = % = Gauge or Thickness, made from Cow Hide [1/4 inch 8 oz]= [3/8 inch 10 to 12 Gauge = 16 =18 =G [5/8 inch Vat Dyed Skirting, the Top Colors are Neutral , Chestnut, & Golden]
5) Leather Surface- Full grain, Buffed, or Rough Out and New Buffed- different Grades, Tannery Run , A, B, or C grades or No. #1, No. #2, No. #3 grade.
6) Number #One – being pretty much blemish free, no scars. Chaps, Leggings, Coats and Vest can be made with Top grain Splits generally Veg Tan Chromatin – Oil tans.
7) Veg Tan soft leather for Legging, Coats, and Vest (called Softies)
*Oil Tan for work Chaps and water repellent needs
8) Top Grain Veg, Tan is in 2,4, and 6 ounce (very soft feel), some thinned to 1 ½ ounce =
* Chromium and Hot Chemical – is a very stiff, tougher feel, more durable leather
* Brain Tan also brings soft results like just as Buckskin feels
9) Tack: some Headstall, Breast harness, and Reins are made of Harness- a Cow Hide “waxed plus oily (feels good) for extreme water resistance in dirty, dusty areas also rainy or cold areas and good repellent; features resistant to horse and cow sweat which is salty and corrosive.
*Tack- is Cowhide, mostly because of tooling, stitching, and the edging is best achieved, with leather,
when Dyeing and also Light, Medium, or Heavy Oiled needed.
*Neutral colored leather gives Tack Buyers a much larger choice.
10) Motorcycle Saddle Bags- made with generally 10 to 14 % leather skirting dyed
11) Motorcycle Seat – Softy upholster leather Black Cowhide, Split Grain out

Shoes, Boots, Belts, Coats, Wallets, Purses . . .

Here you can have many different leather products from Goat, Cow, Calf, Pig, Sheep, Shark, Snake, Ostrich and exotic Hides which covers a lot of different looks, textures and colors and in many cases the pattern has been embossed (raised patterns) to look like a design such as Alligator on Cow.

Leather Furniture . . .

Leather is top grain Cow hide which is used in most cases are Veg Tanned. Most All hides are purchased in full hides Not half hides as saddle skirting is referred to.  Also, most upholstery hides are soft, fifty feet plus in square footage.  In the offices throughout the world you will find excellent leather generally because of the cost of office furniture when leather is used versus vinyl or cloth.

Auto Interior . . .

Here again Cow hide is preferred. Also here you will see as in King trucks by Ford what is called distressed leather which is a long and very lengthy explanation to tell at this time, but my Oak Brand Leather Conditioner does this leather justice.
If you have a doubt or really want to know if it’s a vinyl then check it……..
plastics will stretch. Leather will only give a little, but not stretch like vinyl. Also plastic smells like a petroleum based product while leather smells like leather. In addition, check where you can see or feel the edges. This is sometimes near the stitching. Use your finger nail to look for the edge. Most of the time it’s easy to spot material versus leather.

________ Ed

My Leather Conditioner Tips – Since 1969

First let me say this oiling and conditioning is NOT one I recommend unless you are very careful. This is ‘The Technique ‘ I use when restoring very old leather. I sell O.B. L. Restoration Professional Kits for this use. I will state again, it is for the attentive and careful person.

Older saddles are sun tanned darker patina. Sometimes in older dried leather the dirt, sweat, and other stains may be deep into the leather. If leather is hard where you try to bend it, then before you crack or break it do the following: Oil the leather good with U82. First let it set over night then repeat the process until the leather is pliable.

Let it set another night in a temperature at 70 degrees. I use a fan which allows for even drying.

Now the time is right to saddle soap with a sponge or soft brush. Saddle soap with water running until the dirt stops working out of the leather. Before you stop oiling the leather while wet, oil evenly, watch oil move into the leather (absorbing). If this is absorbed fast, then oil again and continue until the oil stands or surface then rinse off with water.

Now, fully apply the saddle soap again.
Last, flex the leather……it should bend gently.
Now oil again and let it set.
You must keep an eye on the leather item for most of the time it’s drying and I use a fan.

Do not dry in sunlight when dry. I mix water with neutralizer and dampen all leather evenly afterwards. I rub in the first light coat of Oak Brand Leather Conditioner and let dry over night, but check on the leather periodically when dry about (12 hours ), by using a fan. Rub the Oak Brand Leather Conditioner in and start to target areas which look dryer or if a grayish cast is in the leather apply on spot until it’s gone. Now set 12 hours again, now the leather is dry and should be supple.

Buff the leather with a terry cloth. You should find your leather has a lustrous shine. You may now condition monthly depending on your climate or dryness. To condition your leather, one coating, like applying cream to your hands monthly is advised for normal use.

Professional restoration Kit with Oil, Neutralizer and Conditioner, Price: $59.95

(Contents include: 1 Half Gallon – U82,

1. Pint Conditioner,

4 ounce Neutralizer

1 Pint Saddle Soap

1 Brush

1 Sponge

1 Terry Cloth

1 DVD Disk

1 Pamphlet

(price includes shipping within USA)

Instructional Video soon.

If you have questions, Email Oak Brand Leather at: ed@oakbrandleather.com or fill out this contact form.

Thanks, ___ Ed ‘Oak’ Mathieus

Top Grain Leather Breathes

Top Quality leather products are not sealed even when colored. The leather must breathe. Do not lacquer the surface of leather. Leather has pores the same as your skin. Try not to seal leather, if possible. Oils and Glycerin need to penetrate deep into the leather, thus allowing a long life for your the product. You will also enjoy its supple feeling. When leather is cared for, you will have a nicely preserved item. The Patina will be beautiful!  And the more age it has, the Patina becomes deeper and richer. This has become apparent and proven in Quality Care which I have given to items and restored in my shops, companies, and stores.  I’m sure you know most all leathers are colored by Vat dyeing. And certain leathers with their surface coating other than described above can still be cared for in other ways. See Leather Care, Leather Knowledge, Leather Dyeing and Coloring……in my directory.      Also I make reference to some Tanning Techniques which do use an Acrylic Surface coat of color and lock in Veg Tanning.  These leathers retain Veg and other oils because they are sealed in, but No surface sealer (for me) is much better in my experience.

Leather Care: Grain Cow Hide

Leather Care: Grain Cow Hide First and foremost remember this, Leather is a “skin” that is tanned and preserved until it becomes a product at which time it is oiled and sometimes dyed. Next a finish coat is applied to leave a lustrous finished look making a beautiful product come to life (yet not sealing it).

Dirt, salts, and water can destroy leather. Dirt works into the pores of leather. Salts from sweat, and sun removes the oils as it dries, also (watch for) as leather gets damp or wet each time and becomes harder than the last time. Also water can push dirt and grime further into the leather and makes a deep dark spot.

The best results in cleaning Grain or Rough out cowhide, such as saddles and products of Neutral cowhide is to first make sure you can wet leather. See if you can wet a small spot, if so very good. If not, you may have a sealant surface coat on leather which needs to be addressed or removed before the saddle may be saddle soaped properly and oiled.

Note, also depending on how dry your leather item is will also sometimes require you to oil them before saddle soaping it. This is true in really old and dry leather. When you wet your leather, use Fiebings saddle soap mixed with water. I use the liquid saddle soap mixed with water. I use the Fiebings Saddle liquid soap with Glycerin which also comes in a soap bar. The choice is yours!  Also you will need a soft sponge, but be careful not to rub the  grain too hard. You can damage the leather grain (even their original shape.  Then as leather dries, it will retain the form you have molded it to.  Also, leather has a memory.

When the leather item or saddle is dry, you may oil the leather item by using a soft sponge to apply the oil. Application should be applied evenly with fast movements in covering the desired area. In oiling evenly, time is required. Sometimes the newer the saddle or item, there will be longer periods of time between  oiling. If oil stands on an area too long, chances are the leather has received enough oil and you can actually even oiling color out by not re-oiling an area where oil is no longer needed.  So watch for oil to stand for some time and not penetrate then wipe off and move to another area needing oil.  After oiling a saddle, I like to wait at least 24 hours.  Then if I need to touch up a dryer looking spot, I do so and wait an hour or so to see results on the touch up. Upon completing oiling of your saddle or leather item, remember to wait a day even two days in drying.

At this time, I apply My Leather Conditioner, a cream, and apply it like you would on your hands evenly. I use a damp soft sponge while applying the Oak Brand Leather Conditioner in even circular motions until the leather feels supple. You can also feel the difference the Oak Brand Conditioner makes in the touch. The feel is quite amazing!

Now, after conditioning, I wait over night, check then for spots, if none, then I buff surface with a soft terry cloth and there you will see what so many call a quality look. If there is a lighter or gray Salty Spot to the leather area, add Conditioner until the difference is gone then buff with a soft cloth.