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Dry leather handle M4


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Gentleman. A few days ago I aquired a "salty" but nice UTICA M4. It is in fair condition but the leather washers appear much drier than any I have come across before. All appear intact and there is no movement around the tang. Any suggestions as to what I can treat the leather with to increase its life and not just its external appearance?

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You might scrub it down with some saddle soap to get the grime off, then use regular shoe polish. You might be surprised at the result.

 

One radical thing I've done in the pass is dunk the handle in a jar of linseed oil and leave it overnight. The leather swells a little and tightens up some. It turns the leather very dark and polishes up nice. Down side, it smells like linseed oil for a while. The M4 in the picture was dunked about ten or fifteen years ago, so it shows some dust in the grooves and a few dings. It looks good on a "salty" M4, but some may not like it at all. Don't do it unless you like the look.

Marv

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Gentleman. A few days ago I aquired a "salty" but nice UTICA M4. It is in fair condition but the leather washers appear much drier than any I have come across before. All appear intact and there is no movement around the tang. Any suggestions as to what I can treat the leather with to increase its life and not just its external appearance?

This is the stuff Ive been reading about

 

https://www.lexol.com/lexol/products?f%5B0%5D=field_product_type%3A84&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxOf4-eyh4gIVj8DACh3XEQ8kEAAYASAAEgKZkfD_BwE

 

Murrays helmets.. The guy who restores liners and steel pots and sells parts etc..

​He uses it to treat old liner chinstraps. I think most collectors use this stuff?

They sell it at Walmart. Supposed to be very good for the leather.

Someone on here knows for sure?

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I've never found one process when trying to save a leather item that works the same with each piece of leather. This makes your question very hard to answer.

IMHO, I don't think there is such a thing as "restoring a piece of leather". Like AustinO said, once the leather is deteriorating it's changing from what it was when it was first processed. So trying to stop that, or at least slow the process down seems more like what we are trying to do by that time.

I agree with Marv on the way I would first approach the handle. I do use Lexol cleaner these days instead of regular saddle soap. I'm more confident with it and I don't use as much water. IMHO, the less you expose leather to water the happier it is. What ever you use to clean the leather, remember that your really just trying to remove the contaminates from the surface. I put the cleaner on and remove it with a clean cloth very soon. I rather do that multiple times than let too much soak into the leather.

Let the leather dry slowly rather than speed things up with heat, even setting it in the sun can work against you.

I also like a wax applied to the leather. People argue about what's best and if someone feels better getting something they've been told is what museum curator's use I don't blame them, but I've used shoe polish and Johnson's Paste wax on a few pieces of leather and have been satisfied with what I've got too.

I'm interested in Marv's experiment with linseed oil. Over the years I've used linseed oil, mostly on wood, but also as an ingredient for some of those home brewed water repellants for canvas and other natural fibers. While doing so I had experimented with it on some scraps of leather and decided I wasn't crazy with those results, so I never took it beyond that. Still the picture of the handle ten years or more after the application is at least intriguing.

Marv, I'm wondering how long the handle stayed tacky after the overnight dunk?

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Thank you gentleman. You have been most helpful. I've seen leather handled bayonets from the late 1800s that look and feel great and others that crumble to the touch. I guess it is luck of the draw and the leather's history of care.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi barryeye,

 

This is one of those subjects that you'll be subject to many responses!

 

So here's my 2 pennies worth... Pecard Antique Leather Dressing.

 

I have used it on leather shoes, rifle slings, knife sheaths, etc. and have had nothing but satisfying results.

 

I like it because the leather readily absorbs the Pecard dressing and for the most part doesn't darken the leather.

 

Additionally, you'll find other threads on the forum where Pecard leather dressing is mentioned.

 

My other go to product is Saddle Soap...cleans, protects and leaves a pleasing shine when buffed after drying.

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