FWIW, in my experience:
Neatsfoot = bad
Lexol = good
I restore antique oak & leather guncases (among other leather gun cases) and find that the best way to preserve old leather is to use leather balm on it, and then apply shoe polish cream, known to some as shoe wax.
I prefer the DYO brand leather balm, but know that Fiebings and Tandy offer similar products. For the shoe wax I use Meltonian brand products (Fiebings also carries these creams).
If the leather is severly dry rotted there's not much you can do, but I have occassionaly used Sno-Seal on very brittle/dry-rotted leather hinges.
Lexol is another brand that has leather cleaners and preservatives, but I haven't been happy with the results, in regard to guncases, but I have talked to many saddle/tack repairers and they seem to like the Lexol products.
FWIW, in my experience:
Neatsfoot = bad
Lexol = good
Old style holsters as made by saddle makers were made like saddles... from softer more flexible saddle skirting leather. These can be oiled with neatsfoot oil but take note that this can increase the chances the leather will mildew.
Just make sure you buy real neatsfoot oil, not "neatsfoot compound". That's fish oil with just enough neatsfoot oil to allow using the name.
Most leather preparations are intended to soften boots and saddles, or to attempt to waterproof them. Most all of these soften the leather, and that allows the leather to stretch. That absolutely ruins a modern holster.
To give a modern holster some water resistance, I've found that a coat of Thompson's Water Seal works better since it doesn't soften the leather.
Modern holsters are intended to be fairly stiff and hard. For them use standard neutral shoe polish wax, Johnson's Paste Wax or Renaissance Wax.
Again, if in doubt contact the maker of your holster and ask them what they recommend.
We've had very good results with Lexol on saddles and other tack.
In my case, the goal is to preserve my new and old leather. I'm looking for the best product to do that, so thank's for all the replies.
Neatsfoot is organic and mice and rats might go for it. In fact I had two soaked daubers hanging on a deerhorn in my shed and they dissapeared. Seems a rat wanted it for his salad dressing or whatever. Snapped his neck in a trap.
When I make holsters I put a little neetsfoot in the inside and outside. Then I lay the holster in the sun to tan it. If I want it a little tanner I add a little more oil and put back in the sun. After that is when I dye the backround black if that's what someone wants. There's never so much neatsfoot that it's so soaked it prevents the dye from soaking in correctly. I find that holsters heavily dyed a solid black or brown will stiffen the leather. As mentioned neatsfoot softens it. Mike Hudson had me modify an old holster for him that was extremely thin and dried up brittle leather. I put enough neetsfoot to just add life to it and end the brittleness. I add a sheen to most of the holsters I make before stiching, but not all of time (not to Hudson's oldtime holster or any OLD holster!). I've been doing it like this for 25 years and rats haven't eaten my personal holsters and they have held up just fine and have not loosened up because of the oil.
The above has applies to most holsters I make but NOT a Threepersons style. These have to be rock solid and I usually dye these (not always) which stiffens them up as mentioned. Then they are wet (not soaked) and an oiled gun in one layer of plastic wrap is crammed in the holster to get a perfect tight fit as the leather dried around the gun for a few days.This type of holster utilizes such a small amount of leather (just what is needed as Threepersons demanded) that the physics of construction lend them to being pretty stiff anyway. I took notes of all the techniques and applications others here have mentioned, shoe wax for example, and will try it. But at the same time I like and use good ol' organic neetfoot in moderation with fine resuls over the years.
Hudson has said he can hold his holster upside down (the one I made him) and the gun won't fall out. Hopefully that's true of others as well. If he stuffed a bigger gun in it just once it would be stretched for life.
So, I think neatsfoot is great in moderation (like beer!). But then, I'm not into making modern super stiff hard as steel holsters like LEO's use everyday. I'm just into recreating the old stuff. WHEWW!! My two typing fingers are sore!
Last edited by Wyatt Burp; 09-20-2010 at 06:29 AM.
Picard. I have a WWI Colt revolver holster US marked that I've had for years. I used Picard on it, and the stuff turns white around the edges. I'd op for wax, and intend to use that on my US marked WWI 1911 holster.
Leather will dry out, so don't keep it in the safe with a light on, or drying agent. I think it likes a little moisture. Note, I used the word 'think', I'm not sure.
I know if I use neatsfoot oil, mould grows on the leather. I have some pieces out in my shed that are turning grey....
I'd like to know how to stop that stuff! Ken
Keep leather in a cool, dry place.
Don't store it in plastic bags.
What makes leather mold and mildew is moisture, which is why you keep it inside the house, out of the basement, and out of closets.
Yup, did that, but it still mildewed. On Cape Cod, all we have is water, so I guess it's what I have to live with.
You're right about the basement, that's where it happened.
I just have to be careful. I put the old stuff in the shed so I wouldn't start a house mildew problem.