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caring for cordavan

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by globetrotter, May 20, 2005.

  1. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    I remember seeing a post on using a deer bone for care for cordovan, and having seen some posts on excesive polish use on cordavan, and having recently come into 2 pair of cordovan boots, I need some guidance on what I need to be doing to maintain and keep presentable cordavan.

    can anybody help me with this, please?
     
  2. bch

    bch Senior member

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    I just use my horsehair brush to buff them after wearing, without using polish. Makes 'em look brand new.
     
  3. Bic Pentameter

    Bic Pentameter Senior member

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    I believe that rather than as part of periodic maintenance, the bone is used to tease deep scratches out of cordovan. A shoe magazine I have shows still photos of a man pulling a scratch out of cordovan by lubricating the area with polish and smoothing over the scratch with the rounded end of the bone.

    However, I too would be interested in hearing about how others maintain their cordovan. I polish my cordovan shoes very rarely, and when I do I use paste, not polish. Still, I haven't been able to bring out the shine that folks suggest the material develops.

    Bic
     
  4. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    The bone is used to remove scratches from shell cordovan. Traditionally it's a female deer bone (Bambi's mum) as it has (allegedly) the right density as well as the required natural waxes. Try a bone knife (I believe cow bone), from a bookbinding supplier.

    Although I now have my own deer bone, I have previously found that a metal teaspoon works (almost) equally well. Hold teaspoon by the handle and plunge your thumb (for increased pressure) into the bowl. Apply a generous dollop of shoe cream to the scratch - the soft stuff, not wax polish - and rub the back of the spoon (sliding over the shoe cream) in circular motions over the scratch. Leave the shoetrees inside the shoe. After a minute or two, remove excessive cream and polish with brush. The scratch should be gone, or at least will be much better.

    Your basically repeating what the tannery has done, creating a surface with fat, rollers and pressure.

    For general maintenance, I hardly use any polish at all as that seems to be gathering and collecting in the creases. I usually lubricate with the ball of my hand, rubbing a bit of fat and sweat into the leather and removing at the same time any residue that might have collected in the creases. Then brush.
     
  5. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

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    Very interesting. Would this work on calf as well?
     
  6. dartagnan

    dartagnan New Member

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  7. Charley

    Charley Senior member

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    If it is a true scratch - as if the leather was cut with a knife, nothing can be done. If the problem is a deep scuff then the surface an be "shifted" using the spoon or bone method. I would also suggest that the polishes recommended act as lubricants and conditioners to speed the process.
     
  8. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    This method will not work with ordinary calf leather (nor with corrected grain, I tried that). But it is the traditional method to use with "waxed calf". This leather, traditionally used for riding boots, has the flesh side (not the hair side) used as the outside. The flesh side gets sanded down and with waxes and rollers a very shiny and hardwearing topside gets created. Similar to shell cordovan, which is a membrane, buried within the horsehide. Here the same process of creating an artificial topside is required. The use of the bone just copies that process in the tannery.

    It is amazing; you can close quite deep cuts in the lather (of course not right through).

    I believe every Victorian instruction book for butlers or valets, had an extensive chapter on the use of the shoe bone.
     

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