Care for a leather hat

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Care for a leather hat

Postby Timezone LaFontaine » Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:01 pm

I have an amazing leather stetson hat that I got second-hand a few years ago. It was already in pretty rough shape, but has an undeniably cool and charming character. It's gotten away from me a couple of times, but has returned in dramatic fashion. After some trips to BRC, it definitely needs some care and restoration. I probably should have done it sooner, but here I am about to do it now. I've done a bit of research but I was wondering if anyone else has some advice. I was planning on steaming the hat for about 15 minutes to get some moisture back into it. Someone actually recommended plunging it fully into water, but I don't know about that.... I dunno, maybe I should since the desert has dried it out so much. Anyhow, after this step, I was planning to apply olive oil and/or linseed oil to condition the leather. I know there are commercial leather conditioners you can buy but from what I've seen they just contain some kind of mixture of olive oil and a couple other ingredients. Then once it's absorbed the oil and I remove the excess, I was planning to apply a bit of soft beeswax as waterproofing. Does anyone who has a similar hat have any other advice?
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Postby FIGJAM » Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:23 pm

I use mink oil.
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Postby oneeyeddick » Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:26 pm

Make sure you don't squeeze the wrong end when extracting oil from the mink.
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Postby Bob » Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:39 pm

Have you tried a hat shop? That's what they do, fix hats.
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Postby Bob » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:22 pm

eta: If it's not too precious a hat, try 'dubbin', available in saddle shops. I use it on boots.
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Postby Elderberry » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:48 pm

I'm not so sure about using steam or water on leather. My vote is either the hat shop or a leather shop.

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Postby tamarakay » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:58 pm

if you get leather wet you need to make sure you dry it on a form that fits. It will shrink and then perhaps some child will be wearing your hat from now on. I'd stick to oils or leather treatments.
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Postby AntiM » Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:04 pm

I concur, no steaming to avoid shrinkage. Is it suede or smooth leather? Do you know what kind? Is it dyed?

Beeswax, vaseline or any oil will change (darken) the leather. Anything will.
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Postby AntiM » Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:08 pm

MyLarry suggests true saddle soap, used exactly as directed by the manufacturer. Follow up reconditioning depends on what type of leather it is.
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Postby MyDearFriend » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:20 pm

Saddle soap is great stuff but it's been so long since I've seen it that I don't even look for it anymore, not in this city. :roll: Mink oil is easy to find; it comes in a shoe-polish type of can.

I would brush that hat real good with a soft natural-bristle brush, rub in some mink oil with a soft cloth (old tee shirt or similar) folding and refolding as it picks up the dirt :shock: with particular attention to the seams. Let it sit for a few minutes, then brush again to polish the surface. Wait a day or two and see how it looks. You can reapply the mink oil in thin coats until you get a soft even gleam.

edit: you are dealing with smooth leather, yes? Because suede needs a stiffer brush and a different product.
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Postby Timezone LaFontaine » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:13 am

Thanks for the replies... it is smooth leather. I reckon maybe it's best to take it to a pro this time, and then I can maintain it better later on.
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Postby Mojojita » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:39 am

What we do with very expensive saddle leather:

Do not use saddle soap as it will dry leather. For as long as I can remember the "horsey set" has used Murphy's Oil Soap (long before it became popular as a wood cleaner). It cleans and re-conditions without drying the leather. Nearly all leather comes back to it's original color.
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