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Breaking in untanned leather

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I recently got a Jean Shop untanned leather wallet, and I'm looking forward to it aging. I don't care about accelerating the process, but so far it seems to be less "soaking up the natural oils in my hands" and more "soaking up the dirt from my unclean lifestyle." That is to say: it looks dirty. Any way to clean it, or should I not worry about it? Will it look less dirty once it ages?
post #2 of 18
I think once the dirt kinda smears and encompasses the entire wallet it will look a bit awkward. BTW did you tan the leather yourself or did you decide to pass on the tanning? Post some pics of the wallet. I am contempating buying one. I think I might be able to get %40 off.
post #3 of 18
Saddle soap? I've used it to clean a saddle before. A long time ago. It got the saddle quite clean. But then I had to oil it so maybe that's a bad idea.
post #4 of 18
Murphy's Oil Soap.

Depending on the grain of the leather, it may darken it a bit.
post #5 of 18
From looking at Red Moon wallet pics, I assume untanned/undyed leather is the same deal as raw/dry denim? Sounds good. How good of a deal are the Tanner ones over on SuFu?
post #6 of 18
to the OP, i find that using a tiny bit of Dr. Bronners castile soap and water on a rag will remove dirt well and gently. but definitely use obenaufs LP or pecards afterward so that the wallet doesn't dry out. if it were me, i'd clean the wallet and suntan it on a window sill for about 4 hours per side. then follow up with obenaufs.
post #7 of 18
It's been awhile, so I'd thought I'd chime in and ask to see pics, as I'd like to see updates on that wallet.
post #8 of 18
I've done some more reading (since no one answered my question ), and it doesn't look like these are actually "untanned", because that would make them rawhide, and they don't look like rawhide. So it's just undyed or "natural" leather? Such as the belt blanks found here: Also, what's the quality difference with bridle leather? (Which Leatherworks does not sell in undyed?)
post #9 of 18
Here's an answer from siznam from sf:

Originally Posted by siznam View Post
The biggest misconception about leather is what "tanned" really means. like the dude said, if it isn't tanned it isn't leather. With belts, what people most commonly refer to as "untanned" is really just "unstained". All leather used for belts, bags, etc. is tanned.

hope this helps to clarify some....

I'm not quite sure what bridle leather is, but according to lgc, their bridle leather belts are made from harness leather which undergo additional processes to make it soft and supple.

I'd still like to see pics of the wallet, BlvdDandy.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'll try and take some pictures this weekend, but overall it's a real disappointment. The leather definitely changed color, but it's nothing compared to the richness and depth that I've seen in older Red Moon wallets, for example. It basically just looks, well, dirty, for lack of a better word. I don't know if it's a leather quality issue, or a raw denim bleed issue, or a dirty hands issue, but whatever it is I'm not impressed. I was hoping that, like jeans, it would age beautifully with regular use. Sadly, it seems like it requires more work, which makes me less interested in the process.
post #11 of 18
This is an email reply from the guy at Leather Goods Connection. I posted this a while back on Superfuture regarding the differences between bridle and harness leather, and untanned/unfinished leather...I thought it could be relevant here...

"If leather isn't tanned it isn't leather, it's just a skin that will rot and attract flies. Pass that information on to your friends at style forum or nudies.

You are asking for 'Natural russet oak tanned leather'.

Bridle leather is the same oak tanned leather as harness leather that has additional treatment with tallow and oil. It varies from tannery to tannery, as does the oak leather itself. It is a complicated chemical and mechanical process to preserve the skin of an animal and transform it into leather.
Natural russet oak leather is clean, flesh colored, and open grained when new. Without some sealer or wax on it it will absorb all sorts of things, dye, dirt, oil, food, etc.
I know what the buzz is and for the most part is uninformed and even stupid. Hand stained and finished leather will change with use and become unique to each individual and have a nice broken in leathery look. Unstained and unfinished will change also and have a nice, dirty, ugly, pulled from a dumpster look.
Most leather products that are available and have been available in your lifetime, have an aniline finish on them. It does not break in, it breaks down, and wears off. They use this finish, which is sprayed on like paint, instead of being worked into the leather as is done with hand staining, to get a uniform color and to cover blemishes in the leather. They have become so good at making it look like vinyl that they have to stamp "Genuine Leather" on it for you to know it isn't vinyl. My plain leather belts are finished in this way. My harness leather belts are hand stained and finished, and thus cost more. The hand sewn wallet is hand stained. The calfskin machine sewn wallets can be made out of the oak hand stained leather by request at additional cost. I won't make them unstained because they would be ugly. I have been selling unstained belts. I bevel and burnish the edges to make them smooth. When they get dirty and sweat stained, you can always dye them black."
post #12 of 18
Wow, dmaz, that's exactly the response I was looking for - welcome to the forum, man! This explains the problem that some forum members have discovered with the wallets getting dirty. I get the impression that LGC sells unstained belts to meet uninformed demand, despite their professional opinion. It's clear that aniline finish does not result in patina (although leather with a cracked finish is probably wabi-sabi), so forum members should focus on harness leather belts. I'm guessing the patina difference between bridle and harness treatment is a matter of personal preference? (Hopefully a preference this forum will grow to offer advise on.)
post #13 of 18
Thanks for the welcome. I believe, though not 100% sure, another difference between the leathers is that bridle is stained all the way through the leather, whereas harness is just surface stained. So in terms of patina and evolution, the harness leather may yield greater results.

When I emailed Henry at LGC, I was leaning towards unstained/unfinished leather and he steared me in the right direction. He definitely knows his stuff and did not hesistate in letting me know that I was misinformed, and that is why I am now a customer.
post #14 of 18
Anyone can show me a photos of RAWHIDE blank? Are they good quality piece of leather?

Because I am planning to buy a stripe of RAWHIDE off tandy just seeing if anyone got experiences with them?

post #15 of 18
Originally Posted by vee_dub
Anyone can show me a photos of RAWHIDE blank? Are they good quality piece of leather? Because I am planning to buy a stripe of RAWHIDE off tandy just seeing if anyone got experiences with them?
From what I've read, rawhide will rot if untreated. I'd imagine it looks like the skin you get on a side of pork.
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