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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Central Coast, NSW

    Default How do I store and treat leather

    Hi folks. I have been given a mountain of leather. It came from a neighbour who used to do outwork for a furniture company, apparently.

    Most of it is black or brown, about 1 to 1.5mm thick, embossed and polished on one side - the typical sort of thing that might be used to make a good leather couch. There is lots of offcuts but all sizes up to about half a cow, plus full kangaroo skins, and some thicker raw-hidey type stuff.

    I'm looking forward to using it for a bit of upholstery myself but it will be about 6 months before I get the opportunity. Its going to have to be put away in the shed till then.

    Can anyone advise me on how to store it:
    should it be rolled or folded ?
    should it be sealed up tight to make it bugproof or should it be able to breathe ?
    will it be damaged by heat (very hot shed) ?
    is there anything I can put in with it to prevent mould ?

    Also, a few more questions:

    most of the leather has been stored folded, so there are creases (mostly not sharp ones, more just fold lines, see the next photo). How does one remove those. If it was fabric, I'd just iron it, but how do you do it for leather ?


    Most of the leather is embossed and polished on one side. Its sort of a dated look, I think. Is it possible to refinish it - perhaps scuff away the surface treatment. I would be prepared to get it retreated commercially, or do it myself, especially if I thought I could get a shagreen look. In the image below I have put two pieces side by side, one topside up and one bottom. I like the bottom surface, but not the top.


    Some of the leather is really nice on the back side - like the ones in the photo below. These have a nice rustic-looking suede-type back which I think is just the natural surface after the split, but an embossed and polished front. Is there any reason not to use the leather reverse side out if that is the side I like ?


    And finally, there is some fabric that looks very like leather. Very thick, quality feeling stuff with no obvious weave or thread. I've never encountered it before. Its in the photo below. Does anyone know what this is.


    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Katoomba NSW


    Hi Arron,
    Nice haul of leather. Probably worth quite a bit of money.
    Ideally, store the leather flat. But who has the room for that. Roll it with the top (grain) side to the inside to prevent marks.
    Unfinished leathers can be affected by heat as they will loose moisture and dry and crack. Much like timber. The finished leathers, like you have, won't be affected as badly but the ideal environment would be cool and dry.
    Moisture is your enemy. Any leather that gets wet will quickly develop mould. If one does go mouldy, separate it from the other leathers. Wash it with a mild soap and water and dry it well.
    The top side of the leather is not embossed. I should say, may not be embossed, without seeing it. It is called full grain leather and is the natural surface of the skin.
    The smooth ones are top grain leather and have been sanded to make them smooth. Probably aniline dyed to give them the colours.
    You could use the back of the leather but it will not be very durable and will not last long as upholstery. Suede leather is a split hide from calf, goat or deer usually. Maybe the back will work ok.
    I don't think sanding the grain back will work.
    The wrinkles will come out as you stretch it over the seat or frame when you use it.
    Some leathers, particularly upholstery leathers, have a polymer surface coat to improve durability.
    The bottom stuff is probably bonded leather. It's made of reconstituted leather scraps, held together with with a PU binder. Fairly cheap and can separate after a bit of use. Like the office chairs you see out on the nature strip with big bare patches where the leather has peeled off.
    Those were the droids I was looking for.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Central Coast, NSW


    Ok, thanks for the advice.
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

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