Leather Quality and Properties

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by VegTan, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. Munky

    Munky Senior member

    Messages:
    1,615
    Likes Received:
    377
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Location:
    Wales, UK
    Time for everyone to kiss and make up? [​IMG]
     
  2. JermynStreet

    JermynStreet Senior member

    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2012
    Location:
    Saint Louis, MO
    
    DW, I was just marveling at that comment's brilliance. For lack of a better phrase, that might have simultaneously been the most intellectual and effective "diss" I have ever heard-and I've heard plenty. It reminded me of that moment in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon accosts the Harvard guy and schools him. Your comment, for me, was on par with Damon's "apples" comment. Hilarious and bravo.
    It's all fun, of course, but we do have to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is expansion of our knowledge. If someone is "hucking" fallacies, it deserves to be called out. Likewise, acknowledgement of the error by the speaker might mollify things, also. So-I agree- let's all just get along--with the right information.
     
  3. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

    Messages:
    2,388
    Likes Received:
    601
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2012
    What is your opinion on leaving the trees in the shoes? I would have said that the prevailing opinion is that if your feet aren't in your shoes, trees should be. Thoughts?
     
  4. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,272
    Likes Received:
    2,893
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    It's funny, I was always taught...although, frankly I was a little suspicious of it until I understood the reason...not to tree boots. And I never have.

    On the other hand, except for my everday shoes, if my feet aren't in them my trees are. Again, keep in mind that I don't have lasted trees.

    I just don't have any basis to speak to this issue when you get right down to it. That may seem strange but I can't logically see the reason for not leaving trees in your shoes...yet I have seen fairly respected opinions here that said not to.

    ??
     
  5. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

    Messages:
    2,388
    Likes Received:
    601
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2012
    Hmm. I don't have lasted trees either, but I certainly leave them in my shoes when I'm not wearing them.
     
  6. Equus Leather

    Equus Leather Senior member Affiliate Vendor

    Messages:
    2,053
    Likes Received:
    546
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Location:
    England
    

    I was always brought up to keep trees in boots and have always done so when I have had trees with boots. Those without have invariably aged less well, though likely they were lower quality given they didnt have trees so perhaps a circular argument. My gut feeling is the trees have helped keep the boots (literally) in shape though.

    Charlie
     
  7. VegTan

    VegTan Senior member

    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    92
    Joined:
    May 4, 2013
    

    My experience of Red Wing Leather Conditioner made by Pecard...explicitly work boots...is not scientific. It's just my opinion. As you write, the following is essential for science. Could you let us know materials, methods, and controls about your experiment? If you have some photos, that is even better.


     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013
  8. VegTan

    VegTan Senior member

    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    92
    Joined:
    May 4, 2013
    

    Let's get this straight. Which my excerpts are hearsay? Only Pecard?

    If you read carefully them, you must have noticed that experts wrote them. Unless you point out mistakes, you just want to make a fool of me: Hey kid! Watch out for a passing Internet!
     
  9. glenjay

    glenjay Senior member

    Messages:
    748
    Likes Received:
    191
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    I have to point out that at least part of what Pecards states in their reply is simply wrong.
    Per VegTan’s earlier post: “***Reply from Pecards*** … We use only food grade petroleum which is pH balanced to leather…”

    Food grade petroleum is defined as White Mineral Oil by the US FDA and is classified as e905a in Europe.

    This is a basic hydrocarbon with a molecular composition of C25H52 (25 Carbon, 52 Hydrogen - a pretty big molecule). It is also a non-polar hydrocarbon and as such cannot have a pH value (pick any MSDS [Material Safety Data Sheet] you like for mineral oil and it will list the pH value of mineral oil as N/A).

    Mineral oil is also extremely hydrophobic because it is a non-polar substance, and the molecular structure has fewer reactive tertiary hydrogen and carbon atoms which minimizes direct reaction with oxygen. What this means is that mineral oil is much more of a water barrier than triglyceride based oils like animal and vegetable fats. In fact mineral oil is considered to be occlusive (a stop to moisture), whereas triglyceride based oils are considered semi-occlusive (allowing your shoes to pass perspiration for evaporation to some degree).

    The reality is that mineral oil cannot be both food grade and pH balanced. It is allowed as food grade because it cannot react with oxygen (not water soluble for one thing), and can only be used is small quantities in food; basically ingesting (not digesting) inert liquid plastic that simply passes through your system.

    Another aspect of mineral oil is how it oxidizes: All oils oxidize over time, even mineral oil. Oxidation at the molecular level can happen in one of two ways: the gain of oxygen atoms, or the loss of hydrogen atoms. Because triglycerides already involve oxygen bonding in their molecular makeup they oxidize through increased oxygen. Since mineral oil can’t really bond with oxygen (for the same reasons it is hydrophobic) it must oxidize through the loss of hydrogen.

    This loss of hydrogen atoms begins breaking down the molecular composition of the mineral oil (originally C25H52) and as it breaks down it becomes more volatile (the molecular composition of naphtha [the petroleum by-product used as a solvent in shoe polish –and other things] can be as big as C12H26). The smaller the size of a hydrocarbon molecule the more volatile (and toxic) it becomes. This is the reason mineral oil is never used to maintain old leather in museums and such.

    Mineral oil has two things going for it: it’s very cheap, and it is a very good moisture barrier. However, Long term it is pretty detrimental.
     
  10. cbfn

    cbfn Senior member

    Messages:
    2,034
    Likes Received:
    448
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2010
    Location:
    Norway
    Excellent post!
     
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,272
    Likes Received:
    2,893
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    Experts??!! On what?! Compared to whom?! It's pretty naive to assume that just because you see it in print, or because someone wrote a blog or a pamphlet promoting themselves or their product, that they are in any way experts.

    On the other hand that's exactly what I take issue with--naivety masquerading as expertise. The blind presuming to lead the sighted. Trying to teach your old granny to suck eggs.

    In passing...back in post #373 I said "you don't want to get any petroleum based oils such as mineral oil anywhere near your shoes...dress shoes, in particular. It will suffocate the leather and rot any non synthetic threads." I was giving advice about dress shoes, based on 40+ years of seeing firsthand the results of people using products like Pecards on their shoes (although the admonition applies to most any leather, work boots as well). Your one or two applications of oil to a pair of work boots does not qualify as "personal experience" nor yet "reproducible scientific results."

    In that regard you said "I would like you to understand the difference between personal experience and reproducible scientific results." But the better question is "what's the difference between 'straight from the bench' and straight from the ether; or straight from fantasy and/or wishful thinking? Or straight from some PR firm?"

    To make matters worse, you have not been paying attention to anything but your own responses, in my estimation: I am a boot and shoemaker. I don't care for pretense and I never claimed to be a scientist. I made no stipulations about scientific methods. You're the one who introduced that phantasm. I suspect you're not paying attention because you're just "mouthing" the words of others...like an Edgar Bergen dummy. You don't need to invest yourself or to pay attention to do that, so you don't. But it is like talking to an apparition. Or a hollow man. Where are you?

    And finally, you really ought to go back and delete the line about me (or anyone) "making a fool of" you. I have no desire to do that. I just would like to talk to real people, who bring real and immediate perspectives to their conversation. That said, the "make a fool" business is too easy...you're opening yourself up to the observation that you're already doing a pretty good job of that yourself.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013
  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,272
    Likes Received:
    2,893
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    Great information, Glen.Great post.

    I didn't know the details but I do know the results. A natural semi-occlusive oil allows the shoe to breath. An occlusive oil will...as I stated in an earlier post...suffocate the leather.

    On a practical level, natural animal oils tend to disappear into the leather over time, feeding the leather. Mineral oils seem to build up with each successive application until at a certain point the leather turns into a greasy, soggy, limp rag that can never be restored to its original condition.

    In that regard one has to wonder if there's a certain amount of responsibility borne by people passing off false information. Information they themselves cannot verify or filter. Information that may lead someone to ruin a good pair of shoes.

    An observation about natural animal or vegetable oils: Spilled linseed oil turns into a semi-hard gelatinous crust in a fairly short time. Cod or whale oil will turn into a gelatinous matrix in and amongst the fibers of the leather--one of the aspects that made the classic British waxed calf so desirable.

    PS...Glen, if you get up my way bring some of your GlenKaren product around I'd like to see (and feel) it. Probably give a couple colours a trial with the thought of perhaps stocking it at least to the extent of including a demi-jar with orders.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,272
    Likes Received:
    2,893
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    Bearing in mind my vacillation on this subject, I might make two observations....there is a notable and significant difference in the way European and American pull-on boots are made, esp. "western"/cowboy boots.

    The European boots generally have a "bagged" lining and the heel stiffener is sandwiched between the liner and the counter. This allows the heel stiffener to mold itself to the curve of the heel of the last pretty well.

    The western boot uses an integral stiffener that is undoubtedly thicker than its European counterpart and because of the shape of the last as well as the construction techniques employed, does not conform to the back of the last very well. This often means more heel slippage...at least initially...during wear.

    Not treeing the western boot allows the insole and the outsole to retain the flexed position that they acquire with wear. This, in turn, changes the way the heel stiffener interacts with the heel of the foot and reduces that slippage considerably.

    Treeing the foot of the boot, in particular, flattens the outsole and straightens the heel stiffener back to a position where it cannot cup the heel as well as it needs to.

    That's the theory, at least, as I was taught it. And long observation seems to bear it out, although I am sure that it doesn't apply with regard to boots made with a bagged lining.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013
  14. JermynStreet

    JermynStreet Senior member

    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2012
    Location:
    Saint Louis, MO
  15. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    8,272
    Likes Received:
    2,893
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    A few. Paul Krause was a student of mine. Bill Niemczyk got his start in bootmaking with one of my books, I believe. Carl Chappell, Lisa Sorrel.

    Shane Deeter, Paul Krause and Lisa Sorrel post to the Crispin Colloquy (which I started and administer for my Trade Guild) off and on

    What surprises me is who isn't on the list. Most of the really "hot" bootmakers in Texas and the SW are not listed.

    --
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by