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??How to turn leather dyed black back to brown??


El Bibliotecario

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El Bibliotecario

This question has nothing to do with US field gear, so I won't pout if the moderators move it or delete it. I posted it here because I thought it was most likely to be seen by leather gurus.

 

I have a couple leather items which are obviously dyed black which I want to restore to brown. These aren't collectible, and aren't even US issue, so I'm not destroying any collectible's originality. I'm willing to accept most any shade of brown. The only thing I've thought of is scraping with a single edge razor blade, but am seeking other methods. TIA

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I don't think a razor is going to work. I would try something like goof off or some kind of dye or paint remover. If it's leather you aren't worried about it won't matter if these don't work. Maybe contact a place that deals with saddles.

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I used a glass bead media blaster on a pair of jump boots, then just redied them. It worked good, so long as you can get your hands on a media blaster. Starter and alternator rebuild shops usally have them.

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Acetone on a rag. It will take all the dye off the leather and back down to its natural color. Then you can dye it back to its original color. Worked great for me.

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I have a couple leather items which are obviously dyed black which I want to restore to brown.

 

It's common to find WWII brown leather holsters that were redyed in the early 1950's: it'd be nice to be able to restore them.

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Interesting question indeed just for the number of fine holsters dyied black in the fifties. I got a nice M1909 diyed professionally that makes me sad every time I looked at it. Then I bought a couple of junkies M1916 to experiment a suitable way to remove the dying agent. I tried solvents and also fine emery cloth with no result. The problem is the deep penetration in the pores. Now I have an excellent black M1912 dismounted and I'll try acetone.

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  • 3 weeks later...
El Bibliotecario

For anyone with further interest in this topic, here's the result of scraping dyed leather with a razor blade. The piece on the left is scraped, the piece in the center shows the original brown color before dying, and the piece on the right is the 'before' version dyed black. As one can see, even with a small piece the scraping is uneven. The technique serves well enough for utilitarian items of no value such as these; collectibles might well be another story.

post-2215-1326665730.jpg

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For anyone with further interest in this topic, here's the result of scraping dyed leather with a razor blade. The piece on the left is scraped, the piece in the center shows the original brown color before dying, and the piece on the right is the 'before' version dyed black. As one can see, even with a small piece the scraping is uneven. The technique serves well enough for utilitarian items of no value such as these; collectibles might well be another story.

 

 

Well, from the point of view of "purist collector" a WWI era blackened leather is perfectly acceptable if you intended to have a sample of "how scrooge uncle Sam" spared his money and put it on a Vietnam mannequin. BTW IMHO it's cooler than the common Cathey and similars. However I, and maybe I'm not the one, usually dont like altered items, I can buy them only just as curious. You know pics on ebay are not always faithful so I got a couple of black holsters while in the ad they looked dark brown. Usually dark brown was achieved with shoe wax and saddle soap it's great to remove the most of it because teh dying agent is suspendend in the wax and it's removed by soap together the wax. To bad the black dying agent used it's a solution of ultrafine black pigments floating in a solvent and when solvent evaporate you have the pigment deeply placed in the pores of leather. Thinner is the solvent, deeper is black, so: leave it as is and puti it in the correct area of your collection, i.e. post WWII.

The only black holster I have is an M1912 dismounted. I've chased it for years and when I saw that dark brown one on ebay pics, I bought it immediately. I have no gut to scrape it, so it will remainanong its brothers just as "curious".

 

Below, ebay pics and the real thing.

post-67-1326701552.jpg

post-67-1326701561.jpg

post-67-1326701707.jpg

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El Bibliotecario

Interesting that a M1912 holster would have still be in service in the late '50s when they changed to black--perhaps there was another reason for dying it. I was told by a soldier who entered the army in the fall of '58 that he was issued brown boots and obliged to dye them black. But many items of organizational leather were never dyed. I stil have a brown M1916 .45 holster, made in '42 by Crump in its original brown color which I was issued in 1972. Such items were still common.

 

My only reason for wanting the frogs in the photo brown was aesthetics; I don't think I'd mess with something of any value that had been dyed.

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One told me he used petroleum for removing the dye from holsters but I never tried. He said it will not dry the leather...

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