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10633Re: [medieval-leather] Re: Wax OR water hardening leather.

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  • Alasdair Muckart
    Mar 1, 2006
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      On Wednesday 01 March 2006 23:14, Jon Terris wrote:
      > --- In medieval-leather@yahoogroups.com, <khailil1180@...> wrote:
      > > Have to agree, veg tanned works best when water hardened.
      > Is that the general consensus?

      I say "it depends". You can't water harden chrome-tanned leather, and you
      can't mould wax-hardened leather the way you can with water hardened veg tan.
      Veg tan goes _really_ floppy and stretchy for a while after it comes out of
      the hot water -- even more so than when soaked in cold water -- and can be
      moulded into quite deep shapes that you can't do with chrome tanned leather.

      > Does water hardening give a more rigid leather than wax hardening?

      When it's warm, yes. When cold, not significantly but it all depends on the
      leather, the wax, and the degree of water hardening.

      > If so, will the technique of heating the leather and THEN applying
      > water work or does it have to be dipped?

      Water hardening is a very different process to wax hardening. You want to
      (gently) heat the leather before wax hardening to make sure it is dry so you
      don't get inadvertent water hardening happening when damp patches hit the hot
      wax. Having it warm also allows the wax to penetrate better before it cools

      When water hardening, I've had more consistent results dipping rather than
      baking because I've had it dry out before it all really came up to temp. I
      soak the leather in warm water first and then dip it into 80c water to harden
      it. Keep careful control over the temperature, and read a whole bunch about
      the subject before you try it :-)

      > Again, I'm worried about ruining the work I've done so far- my one
      > experience of water dipped leather came out hard but VERY scarred.

      The key thing to remember is that leather shrinks by around 30% when water
      hardened. If you've built something without planning to water harden it from
      the outset, then it's possibly not the best thing to do.

      Because of the shrinkage, water hardening carved or incised leather causes the
      incisions to open very noticeably and the carving to distort. Try it out on
      some scrap and you'll see what I mean. This shrinkage varies depending on
      what part of the hide you're working with too.

      > Anyone have any advice on the safest way to do this without ruining
      > everything?

      Read lots on it. Test pieces of different leathers, different areas of the
      hide, different carving, different temperatures of water and log the
      conditions and the results. Practice on larger differently shaped pieces
      until you feel confident.

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