Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
hivemind

Wax Hardening Leather

Recommended Posts

The leather for Brett's armor isn't taking to water hardening very well - it happens sometimes with lousy leather. I'm thinking the fix is to wax harden it, for the knees and elbows. Now, I know two or three of you have done this in the past, and I definitely have not. I'm thinking I'll just heat up some beeswax and immerse the pieces until they stop bubbling, remove them, form them by hand and let them dry. Is that about the procedure I should be aiming for? Is pure beeswax what you guys used? How much wax do I need for two 5-lame elbows and two 5-lame knees? A pound? Five pounds?

 

Halpz!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I helped JC with the pine cone armour that sounds just about what he did. I think for wax he used those white emergency candles that you can buy a ton of at the dollar store and just took the wicks out.

 

As to how much wax... I've no idea. I know he had one of those big foil oven pans though and just put the wax in that and melted it all down.

 

Maybe do a trial run with a candle or something to figure out how much liquid wax you could get from x amount of solid wax and then figure out how much you'd need to cover all your pieces.

 

I suppose if you did use one of those big foil oven pans there's nothing to say that you couldn't just load it up with wax, do all your pieces, and then let it harden again in the pan till next use. I'm not sure if you can melt and remelt wax like that though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think those are probably paraffin. I found a place that will sell me two pounds of pure beeswax for $22 shipped, gonna just do that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Key thing when dealing with wax is not going overboard with the heat. The best solution is to make a double-boiler with a junker pot, but that only works if your pieces fit inside a pot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah JC stuck the whole pan in the oven. I can't remember if he had a double broiler set up with that or not and I don't recall what he used for the temp of the oven.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We used emergency candles because they were unscented and uncolored. Heated in a shallow aluminum pan, and set the oven temp really low - there is a flash point for paraffin which we looked up on the internet beforehand.

 

You can sometimes find paraffin in a grocery store with canning supplies - a bag of food-grade wax comes in little pellets that melt easily, and costs maybe $5-8/lb. I bought wax this way for a second project - a leather water bottle - that never got finished.

 

I think we bought about 10lbs of wax for Justin's scale maile, but used maybe half, and ended up with a brick of leftover wax in the pan. I don't know about beeswax, but it seemed like you could melt and cool paraffin indefinitely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not interested in paraffin because of the flash point and the need for a double boiler. Wikepedia says:

 

Beeswax has a high melting point range, of 62 to 64 °C (144 to 147 °F). If beeswax is heated above 85 °C (185 °F) discoloration occurs. The flash point of beeswax is 204.4 °C (399.9 °F); there is no reported autoignition temperature.[6] Density at 15 °C is 0.958 to 0.970 g/cm³.

 

Also, there's no historical evidence for leather armor of really any kind, but if there was, I'd imagine they'd have used beeswax not paraffin for hardening.

 

Plus, I can mix beeswax with some brewer's pitch to seal leather bottles and mugs.

 

So, all win. But, thanks for the info about how much you used. We're just doing elbows right now, so I figure two pounds ought to do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beeswax is the answer. The paraffin experiment was successful, but required more precautions as a trade-off for the cost of the project. The beeswax will be a good investment. Doing this again, that's where I would go.

 

You can just hand-form it with junker work gloves once heated. It will work really easy. I suggest you have a basic form to drape it over and make absolutely no adjustments once you set it down after the initial shaping. You get one shot, otherwise it's like competing with work hardening in metals with no annealing option.

 

You just need enough to submerge the materials while flat. 1000 grams is roughly 2.2 pounds. A quick volume calculation of your pan at .75 inches will give you what you need. Then plug in the density of the wax that you found and you will know how much to order. For example, a 10" x 16" pan is going to be 120 cubic inches of wax. (10 x 16 x .75 = 120)

 

120 cubic inches is roughly 2000 cubic centimeters. At .96 grams per cubic cm you end up with about 1900 grams. So 1900 grams is roughly 4 1/8 lbs of beeswax.

 

 

 

Your description of going till it stops bubbling seems right on.

 

Like water hardening, we found that tying or binding the leather into a shape around a form left permanent tracks in the leather under the bindings. It seemed worse for us with the wax, but I can't really accurately say how much worse.

 

Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×