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Sheath hardening

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by forgedblades, Feb 26, 2010.

  1. forgedblades

    forgedblades

    263
    May 25, 2008
    Good day all,

    I just tried paraffin wax to stiffen/harden leather, it seemed to work well for me. I was wondering if anyone with more experience has tried this and with what results and how it weathered. Thanks for any input.
     
  2. rayban

    rayban

    Apr 14, 2007
    I have seen and handled some made by a sheath maker I know and they turn out very good and rock hard.
    Myself, I can't buy into it.
     
  3. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 30, 2001
    A friend of mine once thinned some epoxy down and painted it on some leather. The resulting piece of leather rivaled kydex for stiffness. I still have that piece around here somewhere, scary stuff.

    I'm in agreement with rayban, I'm not real excited about wax hardening, but it does have its place in some applications. I have been told that a mix of beeswax, paraffin, and oil is a good thing. I wish I could remember the quantities.
     
    mbkingshane likes this.
  4. helmar4578

    helmar4578

    456
    Nov 24, 2000
    I am quite satisfied with the body (stiffness) of a sheath that has the flesh side dyed as well as the top grain of the leather.

    Sandy Morrissey
     
  5. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    Sandy told me to use a solution of one pint water and one dissolved Viagra tablet and it will harden a sheath nicely. He said Cealis would work also, but it only lasts 36 hours.

    Paul
     
    mbkingshane likes this.
  6. TheHunt

    TheHunt

    217
    Dec 26, 2006
    Had a good laugh at this Paul ;-)

    I use beewax.
    Melt it and apply it with an old toothbrush.
    I warm up the sheath as well, so the wax wouldnt harden prematurely on the surface and give the leather time to suck it in...

    Works well for me...
     
  7. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 30, 2001
    Yup, Sandy, the dirty ol man! :p


    I can only hope I'm that spry.......
     
  8. forgedblades

    forgedblades

    263
    May 25, 2008
    Thanks for the info guys. The viagra sounds like a good idea I will have to try it!
     
  9. helmar4578

    helmar4578

    456
    Nov 24, 2000
    Gee, Paul, and I thought I gave you that wonderful solution in confidence until we could get it copyrighted! Another potential fortune down the drain!

    Dwayne, I am a "dirty old man" but I came by it quite honestly---I was a filthy kid!! ---Sandy---
     
    jux t likes this.
  10. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 30, 2001
    It appears we walk the same path my friend. :D
     
  11. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    Try SnowSeal.
     
  12. stitchawl

    stitchawl

    Jul 26, 2008
    When I want a really hard leather sheath I use pure bee's wax with a little stearic acid added to it. (Find this with candle making supplies for hardening wax.) While I'm melting it, I heat up the leather with a hair dryer (NOT at heat gun.) I want it just a bit hotter than 'comfortable to touch' but no more. And, I make sure to heat it inside and out. Then I put on a heavy layer of bee's wax, with a brush if there is braiding or other decorative things on the sheath, or by dunking the sheath into the melted wax. Then I continue to heat the sheath with the hair dryer until all of the wax has been completely absorbed into the leather. I repeat this until no more wax will be absorbed. While the sheath is still warm I use a coarse towel to rub off any excess so the leather doesn't look waxy.

    After the sheath has had time to cool down, I re-heat it with the hair dryer. This should bring up just a few odd 'wet spots' of wax which I remove with the towel. After letting the sheath cool completely, I give it a final polish. At this point the leather is just about as hard as Kydex, and because of the added stearic acid, doesn't feel waxy in warm weather.

    Stitchawl
     
    Nyckname and bflying like this.
  13. Wild Rose

    Wild Rose

    Aug 23, 2002
    It's the heat that hardens the leather not the wax, the heat actually changes the the leather at the micro cellular level, the process when done right is virtually irreversible. The process, a simple one of using plain water and heat, is called cuir bouilli and has been used for at least the last 2,000 years - IMO there's no need to re-invent the wheel so to speak
    read here as a start:
    http://knifenetwork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10270

    there is really no need to melt wax which can be dangerous due to the high flammability of the fumes, plus the wax can and will soften in hot weather......of course if you so choose knock yourself out, but water and heat are much simpler and less problematic...........
     
    Nyckname likes this.
  14. psycho78

    psycho78

    Jun 17, 2006
    I'm a new guy at this leather stuff, but the Fiebings dye I use makes my sheaths and holsters hard as a brick. After applying the dye inside and out and letting it dry for a day or so I can knock on them like a door. They wont bend or flex. I'm using an 8-9oz shoulder.

    Like I said, I'm new, but I can't see leather getting much stiffer.
     
  15. Tostig

    Tostig

    Jun 16, 2009
    Wonderful suggestion , I will have to try that. Thanks!

    Tostig
     
  16. Tostig

    Tostig

    Jun 16, 2009
    gaaahhhhh and then I remember this. I saw a show I think on the History channel about leather armor IIRC they did use water to haden the leather ( did they also use lime or something in additoon ??)

    Tostig
     
  17. stitchawl

    stitchawl

    Jul 26, 2008

    When you melt wax always do so in a large double boiler to help prevent flash fires. There is no need to make the wax so hot that it actually boils, but it does need to be quite liquid. Just be sure to add the stearic acid to the mix or the wax wil not harden sufficiently for Thailand's climates. The steric acid raises the boiling point of the wax and hardens it. If done correcty, the finished product won't even feel waxy. Just keep heating the leather and wiping off the excess with a towel.
     
  18. Wolfjohn

    Wolfjohn

    447
    May 16, 2002
    Soak your finished sheath in rubbing alcohol, it removes all the oil and makes it hard as wood....done it for years that way.
     
  19. rayban

    rayban

    Apr 14, 2007
    Would that be called "petrified leather"?:D

    So unless you put oil back into it, the leather just keeps getting drier and drier,,,then what happens to it? Just curious.
     
  20. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    SnowSeal stiffens leather. I use it on all my leather sheaths, as well as belts.
     

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