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Best natural to prevent mold and cracks on leather sheaths

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by Vpetrell, Aug 6, 2015.

  1. Vpetrell


    Jul 14, 2015
    Hi all,

    Still sorta new to the sheath making community but have made a few so far. I have not "finished" any of my sheaths with oil or any type of finisher for that matter.

    Went to Tandy leather and got some Eco flo stain and finish combo last night for a project I'm working on now.

    My question is what is the best oil or finish to use that is natural? I'd want to use an oil rub if possible, but don't know what to use.

    Any advice is welcome!

  2. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    If it is veg. tan leather then Pure Neatsfoot Oil, or Virgin Olive Oil or and combination of the two would be very good, if not the best for adding oil to the finished product. DO NOT buy Neatsfoot Compound, it contains petroleum distillates which are not good for your leather. Use any oil very sparingly, do NOT saturate. Tan Kote, Bag Kote, or are my choice for sealers. I do not use any of the Eco Flo products.

  3. Vpetrell


    Jul 14, 2015
    Is there a reason you don't use the Eco flo products?

    I liked it based on the sales person and the prices for the bottle. This is my first time using a stain and it was water based so I was all over it.

    Thanks for true recommendations on the oils.

  4. calskin


    Aug 6, 2015
    For all of my leather stuff that I make (belts, wallets, sheaths) I use mink oil and beeswax. The mink oil softens the leather gives it a longer life, the beeswax helps seal it from weather. The mink oil also seals it a bit.
  5. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    I use SnowSeal on all my leather sheaths, belts, boots, etc. Doesn't soften the leather like oils, and it seals the pores so moisture can't soak in and rust your blades. I melt in two or three coats with an old hair blow dryer.
  6. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    I have used my methods and products for years as was taught to me by my mentors. They are older methods, but I subscribe to the theory that is "if ain't broke, don't try to fix it". These methods worked wonderfully before Eco Flo was born and they still work today. I did experiment with Eco Dye one time and it didn't meet my personal standards.

  7. Vpetrell


    Jul 14, 2015
    I can agree with that all day. I'm going to try the olive oil, I have lot of that, and see how it holds up. I'm not worried about rusting on the blade, more so any moisture or grime that gets inside the sheath. Will the olive oil help with preventing mold on the inside?

    Sorry for the newby questions!
  8. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    Mold generally is not one of the top concerns unless you live in a particularly hot, humid area. As long as you keep the inside of the sheath relatively dry and clean it should not be much of a concern. I have never used Olive oil alone (always mixed with Neatsfoot Oil about 50/50) but it should be okay. Just make sure you pay close attention to the term SPARINGLY. Never ever dip the sheath in an oil bath. Light coat and then repeat a couple of days later IF it needs it.

  9. Omega Leather Works

    Omega Leather Works

    Jun 13, 2007
    Coconut oil and beeswax. The coconut oil helps with mold and the wax gives you a fantastic water resistance and mellow finish.

    Emulsify the two in a double boiler. Get the ratio so that the finish stays solid at room temperature, but melts with the friction from rubbing it into the leather.

    There very well could be an over the counter product that works in the same way (-mold +waterproof), but I like to make stuff myself.

    I haven't tried an eco flo product that I like. As with Paul it doesn't meet my needs. Streaky, blotchy, water based, it transfers a lot of dye to anything that touches it.

    I take that back. I have a bottle of EF water based contact cement (not sure if they still sell it, my bottle is 15 years old) and it's great stuff, but I give the credit to Barge since they are the company that makes it.
  10. Jolipapa

    Jolipapa Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 4, 2015
    To keep a leather soft and supple the best way was to apply seal grease but this is now forbidden (and I agree) or neatsfoot (mink oil is ok but more expensive) oil mixed with Paulin grease (a grease for leather and horse hooves that was used since 19th century).
    Olive oil can be expensive, make the leather sticky and has a smell that will appeal to cats. (they are mad of it in fact).

    During the last war, shortage of everything prevented my grand'ma to maintain some large leather panels and seats and they dried.
    When products became available again, they tried "modern" leather compound, in order to gain time I suppose. This was a mess, leather did not get supple again, instead became brittle.

    As Sheathmaker. said earlier, petroleum derived products should be avoided, they are more harmfull than else. It's just good to get those fashion victim's shoes quickly shining.
    Beeswax is very good when you start using it for maintaining leather since new. For a seasoned leather oil/grease is more efficient IMHO. But I never tried the mixture with coconut oil.


    edit I remember I once tried some silicon based cream that I got in an automotive exhibition, was told good for waterproofing roadster's leather seats, but did not find it convincing, though quite an effective waterproofing method, it prevents the leather from "breathing". The near full box stays now in a cupboard.

    Else, before applying grease or whatever you decide to, it is important to get the leather clean using some saddle soap.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
  11. vilePossum


    Jan 14, 2015
    sadly my experience with one bottle of eco flow support what has been said so far. i could get really varying results on the same piece of leather, from shiny metallic look to splotched to not covering well... maybe somebody has had more success, but after half the bottle i literally dumped it.
    i like fiebings atom wax and bag kote but for really soft i go for neatsfoot. also for things that might touch leather i try using neatsfoot and beeswax.

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