Author Topic: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown  (Read 443 times)

Offline Davem

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Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« on: July 20, 2021, 12:14:09 PM »
Well, anyone do it that way?

Offline Mogorilla

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2021, 01:41:47 PM »
I have never heard of that before.   I have seen bad things happen to the leather when too much baking soda was used to neutralize vinegaroon.   Too much baking soda and the leather turned to brittle, easily broken material.

Offline Marshal Will Wingam

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2021, 02:15:09 PM »
I tried it one time just to know how it worked. Yes, it did get brittle, like Mo said it can, and I couldn't get it supple again.

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Offline Davem

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2021, 11:01:02 AM »
Well let me explain what I am trying to do.  I want to dye leather a medium brown.  The commercial dyes are fairly expensive but the biggest problem I have with them is I can't get an even color, streaks and blotches.  On the vinegaroon, always an even color but it is black/almost black and I want a similar thing but medium brown.  The baking soda, I didn't get an even color and if it damages the leather- forget that.
Walnut.  Folks say to boil walnut hulls. Fine, where on earth do you find them?   I have noticed when sanding walnut my hands get stained so, wondering if using walnut wood dust from sanding- boil down in water.  Anyone do that"  I want something that doesn't bleed out when wet and stain your clothes.  The vinegaroon is a fast color, same thing in brown is what I want.  Any help much appreciated.- This is for leather used in holsters and cartridge belts.

Offline Mogorilla

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2021, 12:20:42 PM »
Hi Davern,
Not sure where you are in the country, but if you can find a walnut tree, this fall put on some rubber gloves and pick up the hulls.   I hear green is the best, but I never get those in time.    I have used the black hulls with success.   The squirrels will appreciate you cleaning off the nut for them.   We have several walnut trees at work.   I went out at lunch and picked up a big sack of hulls and piled the nuts on the sidewalk.  The next day, all were gone.  I have also used chestnut hulls.  Thankfully someone else picked those up for me.   Search on this forum for dyes, and you will find a lot of information.   Good thing on the nut hulls is they have natural mordants, so the dyes set and do not rub off.   Since you make your own (boiling all this outside is your best best bet), make quite a bit and you can do a dip for real even color.


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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #5 on: Today at 07:19:16 AM »

Offline Davem

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2021, 03:31:56 PM »
Well, I'm in pecan country. A few years ago my brother gave me a big ba of green husks from pecans. I boiled them but they produced a blackish color, didn't work.

Offline Cliff Fendley

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2021, 09:23:55 PM »
My preferred method is natural walnut stain. If that isn't an option then the best way I found to get even color when using factory dye is to dilute the dye and dip dye the project.
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Offline Davem

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2021, 08:49:12 AM »
I started out with the small bottles from Tandy. The kind where you use a small dabber.  You are supposed to go back and forth over the leather with this dabber but I never could get an even color.  Next, I decided to dilute this type of dye with rubbing alcohol and fill up a pizza pan and soak the entire piece of leather. Well- that got an even coat but when the leather dried it was as stiff as wood.  I didn't like the baking soda so I tried tea. You need a lot of tea bags and I threw in some whole pepper corns in hope of a darker color.  That dyed the leather but when it dried out- a little lighter than I wanted. I rubbed with neat's-foot oil which darkened it. Still a little lighter than wanted. I then re-dipped in the tea (I saved it) and that darkened it some more, about what I wanted. I'm using small scraps of leather. Right now I am trying the same routine a second time. It may sound like I'm trying to save money but that's not the issue, I just want an even dye job. In the past I tried RIT. Cold- it didn't take, hot- it shriveled up the leather.
I'm telling of my failures because others may have run into the same issues.  The other thing I haven't done yet is put the leather in the sun, with the neats-foot oil, the sun is supposed to darken it a bit more. What I'm looking for is a medium Brown.

Offline Marshal Will Wingam

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2021, 09:17:12 AM »
I put this in another thread but I'll repeat it here.

When I dye with solvent based dyes, I spray the item to be dyed thoroughly with alcohol before dying so the dye spreads evenly into the leather. For a lighter color, I thin it with alcohol first. Then I put it on fairly heavily before the alcohol can evaporate.

When dry, I apply a thin application of Skidmore's leather cream.

I did both sides of this belt that way.


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Offline Davem

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2021, 09:40:25 AM »
That's what I want. So, spray surface wet with rubbing alcohol and alcohol based Fiebing's, then the Skidmore cream.  On the dye, do you slop it on and a wet dabber in a circular motion or just back and forth.  Or, instead of a dabber- a sponge, etc.  All help much appreciated. Thanks.

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #10 on: Today at 07:19:16 AM »

Offline Marshal Will Wingam

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2021, 11:55:54 AM »
I apply the dye with a 1" to 1-1/2" square of sponge. I put it on quickly and thick, going over it a couple times to get it even. I don't bother with circular motions since that just slows things down.

Practice on a scrap to see if the color is what you're looking for. Don't be shy on the alcohol. This one was done with probably +-4 parts alcohol to one part dye. If it's too light, you can do another application to darken it after it's dry. Yeah, it's another BW belt but it gives a good color comparison.


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Offline Rube Burrows

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2021, 12:33:50 PM »
I apply the dye with a 1" to 1-1/2" square of sponge. I put it on quickly and thick, going over it a couple times to get it even. I don't bother with circular motions since that just slows things down.

Practice on a scrap to see if the color is what you're looking for. Don't be shy on the alcohol. This one was done with probably +-4 parts alcohol to one part dye. If it's too light, you can do another application to darken it after it's dry. Yeah, it's another BW belt but it gives a good color comparison.



Nice Buckles on those two belts. Good tips on the coloring also.
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Offline Marshal Will Wingam

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2021, 05:04:55 PM »
Thanks, Rube. Glad to be of help. The buckles were made by a guy in Central CA. He's no longer making them, though. I just keep making new belts for them. Last I heard he was getting some serious surgery and have no idea how that went for him.

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Offline Davem

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2021, 10:54:29 AM »
Thanks- going to practice-I have a lot of scrap leather around. Never throw it out.

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2021, 11:55:31 AM »
That's great, Dave. I look forward to seeing how it works out for you.

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Re: Baking Soda to dye Veg Tan Leather Brown
« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2021, 07:22:11 PM »
Nice work Rube, the color looks good as well as your tooling/stamping, good looking belt all around, thanks for the look see pard..


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