The type of leather we are discussing for dying is only undyed tooling leather. It is also called vegetable tanned leather. Do not use our leather dyes for redying leather products as it is not a refinishing dye. Only use our leather dyes on natural undyed tooling leather.
We do all our dying, oiling and polishing before the project is assembled. Make sure you wear vinyl or latex gloves because the leather dye if spilt or splattered on your skin will remain for a good week even with lots and lots of hand washing. Wear old clothes because if it gets on your clothing, it will never come out. Also apply it in a room that won't matter if it is spilt accidentally.
To apply dye to the leather you need an applicator. We find flannel sheets folded a number of times and stapled to a wooden block work very well for applying dye to the surface of the leather. You can carefully hold the applicator over the bottle of dye to dampen the dye on it. On belts we tend to run the applicator down the length of the belt. Additional coatings of dye are applied until the leather is colored evenly. For bigger pieces of leather, the applicator can be applied in circular motions to avoid long one directional streaks. We only dye the top finished surface of the leather which is called the grain side. We don't apply the dye to the underneath side of the leather which is called the flesh side.
After the dye dries for an hour or more, apply neatsfoot oil leather conditioner to both surfaces of leather. The oil can be applied with a foam applicator that you use for cutting into the ceiling when painting. A sponge or cloth will also work for application. This helps prevent the leather from drying out. Be aware that the neatsfoot oil will darken the leather. If you have to glue the leather, don't apply the neatsfoot oil on the side that the gluing is done as it will prevent the glue from adhering properly.
Give an hour or so for the oil to be absorbed evenly into the leather and then the leather is ready to be polished. Applying a couple coats of Fiebing's Resolene to the top surface of the leather gives a nice polish. It dries shiny and does not need to be buffed. Allow coats to dry between applications.
Fiebing's Leather Balm also gives a nice shine to the grain side of the leather. With the leather balm, a coat is applied to the leather and allowed to dry. At this point it will look dull. Next you have to buff the leather with a soft cloth to allow the waxes to shine on the leather surface. If it is not shiny enough, you can give it a second application and buff again. We also stock Fiebings Acrylic Resolene which gives a nice permanent polish which does not require buffing.
The edge of the leather can be dyed with Fiebing's Edge Kote which gives a nice hard shiny finished edge. This can be applied to the edge with a wool dauber or a cutting in sponge on a stick. Another interesting way of finishing the edge was once shown to us by a saddle maker years ago. He applied the regular Fiebing's dye to the edge of the leather. Then he damped the edge of the leather with a wet sponge. Next the edge was burnished in one direction a number of times with a piece of denim cloth or waxed paper. This resulted in an edge finish that was as smooth as glass.
There are lots of different products and methods used for dying , conditioning, polishing and finishing leather. Pick the one that works best for you and for the finished look you want. We just mentioned the common methods and products that we use at our own custom leather shop.
We sell dubbin which is a paste type of water repellent used on hiking boots and other outdoor gear. Because it is a bit greasy, you would not put it on leather jackets. Our leather cleaner is only meant for surface dirt. It will not remove stains or pen marks.
Eco Flo dyes are water based and not flammable. Fiebiengs oil dye is alcohol based and is flammable. Flammable dyes can be shipped within Canada through the post office by expedited post which is a ground service. However flammable dyes shipped to the United States have to be shipped by UPS standard ground which is much more expensive. If that is the case, we would have to contact you for approval to ship by the more expensive regulated method. We cannot ship flammables overseas. Therefore, if you live outside Canada, we suggest you purchase the Eco-Flo dyes which are not flammable and thus can be shipped by the economical method through the postal system.