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**The Official Shoe Care Thread: Tutorials, Photos, etc.**

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Mr. Moo, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. Khanivore

    Khanivore New Member

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    I have a pair of dark brown boots with a lighter coloured wood sole and white stitching where the upper is connected to the sole of the shoe. Does anyone know how I can polish this shoe without turning the wood sole and the stitching brown as well?
     
  2. glenjay

    glenjay Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the tutorial, and the high quality images Crat.

    I personally would take a little different approach.

    Water spots in leather are caused by concentrations of water (drops) flushing some oils to the surface, and then the water evaporates leaving the oil (and probably a few microscopic minerals - which were in the water).

    If it were minor I would probably dampen the shoe well with a soft wet sponge, rub in and then rub out a little leather cleaner, and before it dried (a few hours in a dry warm room) I would add a coat of conditioner. Once dry the spots should be gone.

    If it were major I would probably strip the shoes with RenoMat to get rid of any surface wax and draw some of the oils out, then do the same thing I mentioned above.

    The leather cleaner should break up and remove the water related minerals, and getting the shoe fully damp will help disburse and, to some degree, flush the oils in the shoe.

    There is no reason to soak the leather for a couple of hours. Once hide/skin has been turned to leather it absorbs water very well, and the cellular structure can be saturated in a matter of minutes (5 to 10 minutes with a very wet sponge - press down, don't wipe). If the shoe has a lot of wax layers then it should be stripped first as I mentioned, to remove barriers to absorption. Once the shoe has been re-oiled it can be polished as you normally would.

    When leather is created in a tannery (before that it is skin or hide depending age of the animal it came from - calf skin, cow hide) it is soaked for an extended period of time (length depending on the method of tanning) but that is partly to assist in the tanning process that removes the existing oils and stabilizes the collagen protein bonds turning the skin to leather. It also helps in the fat liquoring process where an oil emulation is pressed into the fibers to support and protect the collagen protein bonds from drying out.

    The more you soak the leather with water the more you flush out the existing oils (desirable in tanning, but not in normal care) . You can also introduce Hydrolytic Rancidity which occurs when water splits fatty acid chains away from the glycerol backbone in triglycerides. What you want to do is flush out the oxidized oils (which have risen toward the surface - regardless of water spots), and leave enough healthy oil to protect the collagen protein bonds from drying out before more oil can be introduced.

    It is also important to note that oil does not evaporate, because of the size of most molecules in their molecular structure (it does have a smoke point that varies by oil type however), so oils do not evaporate out of your shoe leather. Oils oxidize which is also how they become rancid, this is known as Oxidative Rancidity, and is the most common way all oils go rancid. Oxidized oil tends to be pushed toward the surface (grain side mostly) as new oil is introduced to the leather and is brushed or cleaned from the surface over time (we are talking about the molecular level here).

    Of course this is just my understanding. I'm sure there are others in this forum that have greater first hand experience or knowledge of these matters than I do.
     
    4 people like this.
  3. Crat

    Crat Well-Known Member

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    What you're saying makes sense, glenjay.
    Dampening and rubbing (sponge or cloth) has usually not worked for me though. Trial and error got me here and this seemed to work.
    I don't have any Renomat but will def. try it out next time.
    Could it be that the oils in the leather spread out more evenly during the lukewarm soak?
    Did use Saphir renovateur after they were dry to try and make up for any lost oils.
     
  4. glenjay

    glenjay Well-Known Member

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    Not really. The oils are already disbursed throughout the leather celluar structure (unless other damage has occured), so all you are really doing is displacing the oil to some degree with water, and the oil will rise toward the largest evaprative surface (the grain/outside of the leather (even though oil does not evaporate), rather than across the cellular structure. Some cross cellular disbursion will occur, but it will be pretty localized.

    Since the melting point for most oils is rather low (other than lanolin, which isn't a true oil) the tempature will not affect the viscosity of the oil as long as it is around room tempature, or a little above (melting point of Neatsfoot oil is about 70F)


    No, I used Lexol leather conditioner, because I wanted to specifically replace the lost oils first before adding other compounds. I then used Saphir cream and paste as I would so normally.

    I add the leather conditioner while the leather is still wet in this case, and use the water to draw the heaver saturated oils into the cellular structure, while pushing out the lighter oxidized oils.
     
  5. glenjay

    glenjay Well-Known Member

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    Sorry Crat, I thought that the last line of your response was a question to me, not a statement. After re-reading it, it sounds like you are stating that you used renovator to replace the lost oils. Which is certainly better than just a cream polish. I would still probably use straight leather conditioner to replace the amount of oil displaced by the process.

    It sounds, and looks, like your process works for you, and it was very kind of you to share it with all. I'm just tossing out some other things to consider.
     
  6. Crat

    Crat Well-Known Member

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    Which Is why I like SF; there's food for thought here and people to discuss these matters with.
    Better understanding of the materials gives me and the other members more room for improvement, so thanks for sharing : )
    I wouldn't do this too often btw, but once every few years shouldn't be too harmfull I hope?
     
  7. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Well-Known Member

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    I would love to hear more experts on the idea of soaking the shoes. Most of the leather was perfectly fine and did not need any treatment at all. Now the entire shoe has been waterlogged, including areas inside that will dry slowly and risk mold formation.The nice cosmetic result may not be worth the damage done.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  8. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Well-Known Member

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    Can I get some opinions on using a sponge vs. a cloth rag for saddle soaping shoes? I have been using a cloth rag on a pair of Allen Edmonds rough collection shoes, but I am paranoid that I may damage the stitching from the friction over time. I'm wondering if a soft sponge may be better. For those of you who use sponges, what kind do you use? Appreciate the advice!
     
  9. glenjay

    glenjay Well-Known Member

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    My favorite sponges are Sea Wool sponges. They are very soft, and easy to clean.

    I use a cotton cloth a lot more often than a sponge for shoe care however. Unless you are really aggressive with the cloth (rub so hard you remove the original finish of the leather) you should be fine, and so will the stitching.
     
  10. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the reply. Taking off the finish of the leather isn't a problem, because it is just tan Horween Dublin leather. It is wax infused, but other than that it's color is derived straight from the tannage. I may try the sponges you recommended just to see which one I like better.
     
  11. usctrojans31

    usctrojans31 Well-Known Member

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    I can't get photos right now, but my girlfriend's black boots are pretty faded at the upper calf area. She loves the boots, but doesn't regularly take care of her shoes (read, her idea of polishing shoes is using Kiwi instant shine). I tried my Saphir polishing cream and renovateur, but there is still a noticeable discoloration. Can anyone advise? Do they need to be re-dyed? Anything else that I'm missing?

    I'm in France and a store sells Saphir less than a minute's walk from my flat, so obtaining the necessary tools should be easy.
     
  12. grendel

    grendel Well-Known Member

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    Did you try a black cream? It likely just needs some pigment put back in and the creams are higher in pigment than paste. Renovateur of course has no pigment at all.
     
  13. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Well-Known Member

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    So I picked up some sea sponges today and tried them out. They are hands down better than the cloth I had been using. The soap lathered up with ease, and I could tell the sponge was much more gentle on the leather and stitching as well. I think I've officially converted!
     
  14. glenjay

    glenjay Well-Known Member

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    Great! I'm glad to hear that worked out for you so well.
     
  15. patrick_b

    patrick_b Well-Known Member

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    A quick google search shows Sea Wool sponges ranging from $50+ to $15. Care to share a source for something that works well?
     
  16. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Well-Known Member

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    Someone correct me if I am wrong, but after doing my own google search prior to purchasing my sponge, I sort of came to the conclusion that any natural sea sponge will work. I don't see any difference between the ones that come up under "Sea Wool" versus any other natural sea sponge. I just ran down to my local arts and crafts store (Michael's), and bought a small bag of them for $5.00. They are in the paint supply isle for sponge painting. I wonder if the reason some of the ones on google are so expensive is because of how large they are? The ones that I got which are cut to size for sponge painting are more the size of a shoe polish applicator, so the size is familiar for use on shoes anyway.

    The instructions on the saddle soap tin say to "Dampen a cloth or sponge and rub lightly over the soap to create a lather." However, when I used a cloth rag to apply saddle soap, it would create more of a wet paste that I would then rub all over my shoes. I was probably applying alot more saddle soap than necessary because it was hard to "see" it on the shoes, and it didn't seem to spread well before having to get more from the tin. When I used the sponge, it instantly created a nice foamy lather and I was able to cover an entire boot with only two dabs in the saddle soap tin. Definitely an improvement, and when I was done the leather still had the nice oily supple feel that it should have if you get proper coverage.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  17. usctrojans31

    usctrojans31 Well-Known Member

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    Yes sir, double pigment and all. I fear that they will need to be re-dyed, which I know she won't do, and probably isn't worth it for the cost/quality of the boots.
     
  18. rogejo321

    rogejo321 Active Member

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    Apr 24, 2011
    Hi everyone. I posted this on the AE appreciation thread, but havent received any responses, and I felt like this might be a better forumm. I recently got a brown pair of AE neumoks and a blue pair of AE cronmoks (unstructured shoes with a rough type leather for those of you who do not know).

    My question is how do people treat/care for the leather on these? I feel like I might want to darken the blue ones a bit. What would work well for that? Neatsfoot oil? I have all of the regular care products (AE leather conditioner and Saphir Reno) for my traditional calf shoes, but not sure what to do with these. Any suggestions are appreciated.
     
  19. manchambo

    manchambo Well-Known Member

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    Dec 18, 2012
    

    I have a somewhat related question. My wife has a quite high pair of boots that need a good deal of work. I have only ever cared for shoes with solid structure and shoe trees. It seems that it will be fairly difficult to work on the parts of the boot that are basically floppy. Any tips or tricks on dealing with this?
     
  20. joiji

    joiji Well-Known Member

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