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Wet leather temperature

Discussion in 'DIY and Traditional crafts' started by dewi, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. dewi

    dewi Full Member

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    I've been having a go at working with wet leather and moulding it around tools. I hadn't given much thought to the temperature of the water, but when I used hot water the leather seemed to bubble for longer (about 40 minutes instead of previously 20 minutes) and the leather was much softer, easier to mould.

    Reading Al Stohlman's books has helped enormously with other aspects of leather working, and although wet forming is described, I can't find anything specifically about temperature.

    A search online is as I expected, conflicting opinions. What is agreed is that warmer leather with dry harder, but some argue that if the water is too warm it will leave the leather brittle. No real details about what temperature will cause that.

    So my question is, how hot is too hot? I was under the impression that the Roman's boiled leather to make armour, but the wiki on it says they used oil or wax.

    I want the leather to be as workable as it can be, but at the same time I don't want to go to the time and expense of making something for it to break because I've overcooked it (if that makes sense)
     
  2. Dreadhead

    Dreadhead Bushcrafter through and through

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    I would say no more than luke warm mate. That's what I use for turning turnshoes, any hotter and the leather will shrink and stiffen in my experience.
     
  3. dewi

    dewi Full Member

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    So do the elbow test like with babie's bath water?

    Hadn't even considered the leather shrinking.

    The stiffness of the leather is what I want to perfect... I want it to be hard enough to hold its shape even with bit of abuse, but not so it becomes brittle.

    One of my projects is a water bottle... although I'm nervous about the wet process because I made it more to practise stitching and shaping, so I used some thick belly leather to keep it cheap. The tool covers I've been using shoulder leather. I'll post some piccies up when they're complete.
     

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