Neatsfoot Oil or Mink Oil?

Discussion in 'Self-made Gear' started by Ahnkochee, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    Which product do you prefer for treating and preserving leather goods including boots and sheaths? I prefer something more natural without silicone. I've used both over the years but don't recall seeing any real difference. Any pro & cons Neatsfoot Oil versus Mink Oil on leather? Thanks! ;)
     
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  2. Bucketosudz

    Bucketosudz ARTISAN ATTRIBUTES

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  3. TheGeoSquirrel

    TheGeoSquirrel Supporter Supporter

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    I do leather work and have a friend who does it as a professional saddle maker and he swears by EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). That is all he uses and swears anything else is bad for the leather. I don't know but he swears by it.
     
  4. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    I have used more modern products in the past but I'm trying to avoid man made chemicals, and looking for a more natural product something used maybe 150+ years ago. Thanks for the suggestion though. :)
     
  5. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    I'm affraid of EVOO as I've heard it goes rancid over time and even aids in the decay of leather. I'll have to do some more research to verify. I do love the stuff for cooking. ;)
     
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  6. OLD DOG

    OLD DOG Scout

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    If you use Neatsfoot on anything that contains stitching (boot, saddles, etc), be sure it is pure and not a compound. I can't say from experience, but I've been told many times that the Neatsfoot compounds will rot the stitching.
     
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  7. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    Just from brief research I found the ingredient in Mink Oil (actually made from Mink fat) which gives it it's preserving, and softening quality is palmitoleic acid which mink oil has 17%. I also found out that the locally available Macadamia oil has 22% palmitoleic acid (omega 7) so I may experiment with this oil too.

    Has anyone been successful using beeswax? I used to use Sno-Seal who's main ingredient is beeswax on my snow boots in Idaho. Can't get the stuff here. I do have plenty beeswax for woodturning but never tried in pure form in leather. What is the procedure to do this? Thanks again for your input! ;)
     
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  8. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    Will it rot nylon stitching too?
     
  9. Trekon86

    Trekon86 Guest

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    I avoid using a lot of oils on my leather goods.
    A little bit (just a dab on a small patch of sheepskin) is OK and gives bare leather a "golden warm" texture and feel and a lovely smell, but other than that, I prefer 100% beeswax applied either using cuir bouilli methods or using a hairdrier.

    PMZ
     
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  10. GrowlingBear

    GrowlingBear Supporter Supporter

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    I use Obenauf's on soft leather or flexible leather and mainly beeswax or stain and atom wax finish for sheaths. The extended use of oils will eventually soften stiffer leather, so I generally don't use it too often on sheaths.
     
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  11. wrbthe3rd

    wrbthe3rd Scout

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    i am stuck on snowseal for all my leather goods.i used neatsfoot for years ,switched over and never went back.
     
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  12. TheGeoSquirrel

    TheGeoSquirrel Supporter Supporter

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    I have started useing EVOObased on his advise and not had one problem. I have not had any problems with it turning rancid. I think that there is some type of reaction once you treat leather with it that keeps it from turning rancid. I have used it on lots of projects and never had a problem. i'm sure it is possible but not had any neg problems or smell yet.
     
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  13. Survive

    Survive Scout

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    Neatsfoot oils is what the soldiers used to condition their boots in WWI. It serves condition the leather to make them more water resistant. Basically, it prolonging the life of leather.

    I am not familiar with compound versions of this oil as I have only ever used the pure stuff.

    To second the motion not to use silicones is wise. B using silicones you create a waterproof layer over the leather that prevents any future conditioning of the leather unless you remove the layer of silicone first. The leather actually dries out underneath the silicon. Ask me how I know this... I ruined almost ruined a great pair of boots and will never use silicon based products on my leather again.

    I brought back to life a leather pair of shoes that was hard and cracked. Neatsfoot oil worked wonders. After repairing the hole around the seam and re-dying the shoes, they looked like new. I gave them back to the person who threw them out. It was a fun practice piece for me
     
  14. d37fan

    d37fan Scout

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    I use the mink oil / pine pitch mixture that Redwing shoe sells, on my boots. Works great and as far as I know, no other chemicals are in it. Keeps my boots soft and water proof. The only down side is, they are dust magnets after being treated, but a soft brush takes care of that.
     
  15. Capt. Redbush

    Capt. Redbush Guide Bushclass I

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    I've been using either Mink Oil or Bear Grease (not to be used on light colored leather you want to remain light colored). Both have worked fine for me. I usually apply to both sides, ideally before it all gets stitched together. After putting on a healthy coat, I'll put them on top of the oven while baking something to warm up the leather, open the pores and drive the oil in.

    Had not thought about EVOO. I use it for my wooden kitchen utensils. Might have to try that out for leather. Maybe treat several scraps with different oils/preparations and leave one untreated as a control, then leave them out over the winter.

    :41:
     
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  16. Cro

    Cro American Grouch Hobbyist Lifetime Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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    I've been using Montana Pitch Blend for about two decades now. I first tried the stuff on some Schnee's boots I bought, they sent a sample and I ordered a tub of it not long after. I'm still wearing those boots now.

    It's a mix of pine pitch, mink oil, and beeswax.

    They make an oil conditioning and a dressing. Typically I'll oil first, then apply the dressing after that and when I need to reapply I just use the dressing.

    http://www.mtpitchblend.com/ournaturalproducts.html https://www.montanapitchblend.com/products.aspx
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
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  17. theboomboom

    theboomboom Scout

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    I've been using neatsfoot oil on my sheaths. In my experience so far, all it takes is a light coating every six months or so, and they have stayed nice and supple.
     
  18. wsdstan

    wsdstan Guide

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    I like Obenauf's and Snow Seal for quality leather. Neatsfoot oil doesn't waterproof my boots very well at all but it does soften the leather a bit. Good for stiff work gloves.
     
  19. forge1

    forge1 Scout

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    My mentor in backpacking told our group not to use ois on boots because of the softening and stretching that ocurred. Wax based products are the preferenc for waterproofing leather that needs to be tufff and stiffff. Beeswax turpentine and linseed oil was the tried and true for the colonists. Tough choice!........Ross
     
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  20. rthrasher2

    rthrasher2 Scout

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    At one of the Amish places my old boss used to get leather they had this stuff called Snow-Proof its made by Fiebings. In the shop we used and sold that and a cream called Bick4 for everything, and have a hard time keeping it in stock. The Snow proof is a bees wax based formula, and the Bick4... I cant find my bottle and I cant find the ingrediants in the website.
    http://shop.fiebing.com/products/category/SNOW+PROOF/3267.0.1.1.75170.72758.0.0.0
    http://www.bickmore.com/bickmore/Leather Care/Bick4.html
     
  21. Sawdust and Splinters

    Sawdust and Splinters Scout Bushclass I

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    I just use beeswax on my sheaths. I melt the wax in a tin, then dip a rag into the warm melted wax and rub it into the leather. This softens up slightly stiff leather a bit, but penetrates and waterproofs well for me.
     
  22. 3fires

    3fires Guide

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    I've been using deer tallow, works great for just about everything and doesn't go rancid as far as I can tell. Nothing rots, rusts, or stinks with it, so I'm happy with that.
     
  23. wulfesinger67

    wulfesinger67 Guide

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    i us wax from a NEW toilet ring .i melt it in a double boiler and i add just a drizzle of mineral oil to thin it when cold. then rubbit on till boots wont take no more wipe of and let set for a hour then buff. i do like sno-pruf too but i was broke when i came across a smashed one on sale for a buck. and the rest is history. might try that pine ar too sound alot like my tincloth water proofing mix.
     
  24. Mykos

    Mykos Scout

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    I use mink oil on my boots and sheaths and have always been pleased with the results.
     
  25. BDDwoods

    BDDwoods Scout

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    I use Snow Seal for wet weather gear but for boots, I use Red Wing Boot Oil. If the boots are Red Wing (mine are) the the local dealer oils them for free.
     
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  26. longhunter

    longhunter Northman

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    Ican attest to that, while in the US Army trainging in florida they had 55 gallon drums cut in half full of Neatsfoot oil. On the leather it worked OK but over a very short time the stitching did disintegrate (sp?) and then you had the flapping soles....just my opinion.
     
  27. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    Thanks for all the great responses. I think I'm leaning more towards the mink-oil than the neatsfoot from what I'm reading but also I'm leaning more towards beeswax too. I may try a mix of beeswax and Macadamia nut oil since the Macnut has the same properties of mink oil, and readily available here.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
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  28. briarbrow

    briarbrow Banned Member Banned

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    I believe that eventually any natural oil will aid in the decay of leather, but in the short term of our use some help preserve it. Similarly museum conservationist use silicone wax based products to preserve some wooden objects that were traditionally treated with boiled linseed oil or tallow because those naturals slowly aid in the objects demise.-or so I've heard.

    For the longest time I was against the use of neatsfoot. Then I discovered what I had was a compound. It smells rancid. The real stuff has an odor to it but is not offensive.

    In some old literature, advice of cordwainers and my grandfather have all recommended neatsfoot. Use light coating, rather than trying to saturate
     
  29. ElpasoTom

    ElpasoTom Tracker

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    Been awhile in this thread. Just tight I would add that a liberal dose of Snow Seal and a heat gun completely solved my creaking Crossbreed holster problem. Just don't get too much heat directly on the kydex.
     
  30. Exy

    Exy Bushmaster

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    My uses for 100% neatfoot are only with brand new dried out leather.

    Giving it a coat before and after staining. Then sealing the leather up with sno-seal.

    If I have some older used leather that is a bit dry.. I hit it with a little mink oil to re-lubricate it and then I hit it with sno-seal.. but you could get away with sno-seal alone.

    Personally, I swear by sno-seal.

    That is my arsenal of defense - pure neatfoot, mink oil, and snoseal.
     
  31. Agile Woodsman

    Agile Woodsman Scout Bushclass I

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    It's important to make the distinction in purpose between oils and waxes on leather.

    Oils, in general, are used to lubricate the fibers in leather. Leather is a biological animal product so it has fibers like any other skin or muscle. The oil penetrating between these fibers is what keeps it soft and prevents dry rot and similar issues.

    Waxes are more for weather proofing and keeping outside gunk from penetrating these fibers which would promote premature wear.

    So what to use, when, is situational. A knife sheath that is wet formed and friction fit, for example, you'd not want to over oil because it'll get too soft and lose that tight fit. However a light oiling once a year or so, along with a wax finish for weather and environment protection would work well.

    So figure out what the project is used for, and what would most benefit it, based on what it is and how it's going to be used. :)
     
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  32. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. Supporter Supporter

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    Standard old dressing "Bag Balm" rubbed in and set by the wood stove or radiator over night to soak in and seal, waterproof and no rot issues.
     
  33. RDog

    RDog Scout

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    maybe coconut oil?
     
  34. The Bruce

    The Bruce Scout

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    My concern with packaged products is that you don't know what chemicals are included. My old tub of mink oil includes: Mink oil, silicone & lanolin.

    1) Page 75 of Foxfire 3. Harry Brown Sr.: 50-50 mutton or beef tallow & beeswax to keep soft & dry for a few months.
    I read somewhere that you could also use lard with the beeswax, but to get the unsalted kind.
    2) Read a post recently from a Ka-bar engineer recommending 50-50 neatsfoot & beeswax (may substitute paraffin) at 180f for restoring/waterproofing leather handles.

    I tried #2 on an old knife, but the leather was too far gone to benefit, so I won't show pictures. I believe it stabilized the leather to the point that it is still usable, so I wrapped it in cord, and put it in my take to the field box.

    As you can see, I kept the mixture in a glass. It has the texture of a firm polish. I intend to use it as a leather conditioner/waterproofing. As it cooled, it did not separate, but you could see the mixture hardening in levels as it cooled. The color variation is wax mixture on the outside of the glass.

    Cost was negligible. $15 for 1lb of pure beeswax from Hobby Lobby & $20 for 32oz of neatsfoot oil from Tractor Supply. I melted 1/4lb of beeswax and added an equal volume of neatsfoot.

    DSCN3868.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014
  35. Pinebaron

    Pinebaron Curmudgeon

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    Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP (leather preserver). I have used Sno-Seal and the others but like Obe's best.
     
  36. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter

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    What about Saddle Soap? Is it any good?
     
  37. Sides

    Sides Guide

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    On my boots and sheaths I use Montana Pitch Blend. While I'm doing leatherwork I use neatsfoot oil, followed by Montana Pitch Blend at completion.
     
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  38. Pinebaron

    Pinebaron Curmudgeon

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    Use saddle soap to clean the leather. I use Fiebings. Then use Obenauf's to preserve the leather.
     
  39. Ahnkochee

    Ahnkochee Bushmaster

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    I just wanted to update your link (7+ years later) to a great sounding product: https://www.montanapitchblend.com/products.aspx
    Anything with pine pitch or pine tar sounds great to me. Speaking of which I still have a couple gallons of Stockholm Pine Tar that my dad used to buy in bulk. This stuff is over 30 years old. I wonder if I can make a leather preservation combining the pine tar with macadamia nut oil and bee's wax, got all three on hand. Only thing is I presently have no leather stuff needing attention. I wonder what's the ratio of ingredients that Montana Pitch Blend uses. Pitch is the sap correct? Not the same as tar but I'm weird I love the smell of pine tar (and diesel). :32:
     
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  40. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue —- Roughian #7 -— --- Graybeard -— Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Interesting. I would research the macadamia oil before using. Sounds good though. I need to experiment with some pine pitch/sap.

    Some of the early posts in this thread talked about Olive oil. I had bad experiences with that in a hot and humid climate in Nicaragua. I didn’t have anything else to treat my leather things I made down there (and had made) and found that it would mold/mildew and smell bad rather quickly in that climate.
     
  41. GKiT

    GKiT Guide

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    This is what I use as well. I used to use Sno Seal but I now prefer Obenauf’s.
    The saddle soap and Obenauf’s covers just about all my needs for leather.
     
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  42. bladesmith3

    bladesmith3 Supporter Supporter

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    ken is correct. never use olive oil on leather. it makes a rancid smell that stays for years. another great product that I have used for many years with great success is Nikwax
     
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  43. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Bushmaster

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    For leatherwork, on new leather (veg tanned) I "feed" it first with neatsfoot oil, then seal it with pure beeswax. I heat the beeswax to a liquid, then quickly rub it on the leather where it immediately starts hardening. Using a heat gun on low I then melt it into the leather, rubbing it in to even the coat. It's amazing how much the leather will absorb, leaving no visible waxy look on the surface. Then buff it up.
    I've found that just using neatsfoot oil without a subsequent beeswax treatment makes the leather too pliable for sheaths.
     
  44. 66drifter

    66drifter Guide

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    my long since passed OLD shoe/boot repair man told me to use neatsfoot oil to soften my dried out boot leather prior to greasing them w/ mink oil

    he also told me to float my mink oil tub in a pan of water that was heated on the stove thus warming/liquifying the mink grease for application

    his instructions included setting my boots/shoes on the oven door to gently warm the leather to aid the penetration of both

    the neatsfoot oil penetrates the leather butt doesn't close the pores

    the mink grease does close the pores somewhat though not completely

    both products were initially to be applied w/ a piece of sheep's wool(separate piece for each product)

    finishing up w/ dipping an old tooth brush in the liquified mink grease and rubbing the liquid into ALL lacing/stitching/seams

    the day after saw me wiping off the excess & buffing to finish the job

    still using boots treated that way that are well over 30yo ;-)
     
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  45. Scotchmon

    Scotchmon Supporter Supporter

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    Snowseal is my go to for most leather boots. It doesn’t soften the leather like neatsfoot or mink oil will. Softening often leads to the leather to be able to stretch, something to avoid with climbing or hiking boots.
    For sheaths I like to soak the leather with melted beeswax and a heat gun. Doing so it also allows the leather to be formed, much like wet forming. Once cooled the sheath maintains the shape.
    On my Steger mukluks and mocassins I use the recommended water based silicone spray as it allows the moosehide to breath, which in turn keeps my feet drier as perspiration is able to escape. The silicone sprays don’t affect the color of sueded leather like oils or even Snow Seal will.
     
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  46. hidden_lion

    hidden_lion Guide

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    I have like both, but mink oil really darkens the leather so if that's a concern, avoid it. Mink oil provides good water protection
     
  47. Lazarusaurus

    Lazarusaurus Idot Supporter

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    Huberd's Shoe Grease does the trick for me. Mostly beeswax and pine tar I believe.
     
  48. Prairiewolf

    Prairiewolf Supporter Supporter

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    I like Neatsfoot Oil on leather knife/hatchet handles. It seems to penetrate well and then dry to form a good sealing effect.
     
  49. OutnBacker

    OutnBacker Guide

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    This. If you want a baseball glove to break-in and fit the ball, you oil the crap out of it. Same with work boots. If you want a holster, a sheath or an axe cover to keep its shape, you use wax, and maybe just a touch of oil.

    I used to ride bicycles up to 200 miles a week - when I was crazy. I always used Brooks leather saddles for every bike. I still have one in the shop for emergent transport. Brooks sells a product that they recommend be VERY sparingly applied or the saddle could collapse and lose its ability to carry the rider. It will sag and stretch become useless.

    I use SnoSeal on those saddles and they were water resistant enough. SnoSeal is a great product for your boots and pretty much everything else that requires hold its shape. However, it does crack in cold temps at the natural creases that occur in boots or leather that gets bent. That's wax.

    Obernaufs is another good one. I don't know if it contains wax, but it acts much the same way SnoSeal does. Not so much cracking, though.

    For lots of my leather projects, I just use Kiwi brown polish. Over the SnoSeal on the Brooks saddles, it looks great and buffs up beautifully. On a bike saddle, the slicker the better to keep friction down.

    As to using stuff that they used back in the day: Forget it. That's why there isn't a lot of remaining original leather around. They put all sorts of concoctions on it that rotted the leather. We're way better at it today.
     

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