How to soften leather?

Discussion in 'Tack & Saddlery' started by simons-mum, Apr 4, 2008.

  1. simons-mum

    simons-mum Simon & Bob

    New pony came with a foreign saddle for free, flaps over the stirrup buckles are rock hard and sort of standing up. Will use this one for a while as pony is very overweight and would like him to shed quite a few pounds before getting a good one. What can I use to soften the leather to make it useable (and presentable for trading in!)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2008
  2. Em 1

    Em 1 Active Member

    I've not found anything better than Oakwood Saddle soap and conditioner. I rescue old, filthy, crispy tack and, with a lot of elbow grease, turn it into supple, usable tack. The other stuff I've used is Effax leather balsam - I find this too greasy for everyday use but if I've got a particularly dry piece of leather I clean it then slap the Effax on and leave it to for a couple of days. I massage it everytime I'm passing. After a few days, I clean it thoroughly using the Oakwood saddle soap and then condition it.

    You can find either product by googling the name but if you are interested, this is what each product looks like:
  3. cwb

    cwb Member

    Neatsfoot oil - rub it in and let it dry - repeat until the leather is soft & supple.
  4. coss

    coss Schooling fan

    oil regularly and lots of saddle soap - flex it as much as you can - thats what i did with girth straps.
  5. domane

    domane Well-Known Member

    Flexalan is an excellent leather feed too.
  6. Georgette

    Georgette New Member

    Not sure if it will work for saddles but I have rescued bridles, martingales etc by rubbing Ko Cho Line oil into them, tieing them up in a carrier bag and then leaving them in the airing cupboard for a few days.

  7. unicornleather

    unicornleather Working Saddler

    The "flaps" you mention are called the skirts and the best thing for leather to soften it is any product that contains a good amount of lanolin and beeswax, neats foot oil is not the best thing, it leaves oily residues on the leather and alot of people put it on the grain side (top shiny surface) which is wrong it needs to go into the flesh side (underneath) the leather fibres are more porous this side and all oils should be applied on the flesh side.
    Cod liver oil is far superior to neats foot and it leaves the leather with the nice leathery smell too. But any oil alone will not soften leather very much.

    When the leather is being tanned, it is stuffed full of fats towards the end of the processing, cod liver oil is used in this process as is tallow.
    I find that when hand dressing new hides in my workshop, a small amount of cod liver oil on the flesh side keeps it in tip top condition and a liberal dressing on the grain side of tallow will keep it looking good. Leather loses moisture every day including new leather, whether it is used or not, so keep that in mind when buying new saddlery in a tack shop, it may have been sitting there for ages!
    If leather makes a creaking sound when moved it's TOO dry!
    If you ever buy new leather with a white greasy looking film or brush strokes on it, it is GOOD as this has been hand dressed with tallow and not a defect as some have thought!
    You find good quality English leather with this white bloom on.
    My best, by far, dressing I use on old saddlery that needs some tlc is Aussie leather conditioner, it's got the lanolin and beewax and doesn't take alot of work to get the leather nice and supple. £5.50 per tin and it goes along way!
    If you can't find anyone who sells it pm me and I will send you some, hope this info helps.
    Oz :)
  8. Wally

    Wally Well-Known Member

    I like the Aussie stuff too, smells better than 'Oopers 'Orrible, but I do like 'Oopers 'Orrible too.
  9. Maggles4Lyf

    Maggles4Lyf New Member

    is that this one??

    i have that, but in a tube! and it works wonders, i love it! and a little goes a long way, so tis wallet friendly ;)

    i need more, im almost out :rolleyes: oh well, next trip to horseland i spose! :p:eek:;)
  10. Wally

    Wally Well-Known Member

    It's Fiebings Aussie Leather conditioner.
  11. unicornleather

    unicornleather Working Saddler

    Yes as Wally says, Fiebings make and sell it, it's in a yellow tin.
    Oz :)
  12. welshcobz

    welshcobz New Member

  13. Where can you buy this Aussie business? Do normal tack shops sell it or does it need to be ordered online?
  14. unicornleather

    unicornleather Working Saddler

    Either myself or Wally sell it, pm me or wally for details, Oz
  15. alanalovesfinn

    alanalovesfinn New Member

    effax leather softener

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