My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)
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  1. #1
    Member longface's Avatar
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    My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)

    I was recently looking for dark brown leather straps for my black dial watches (because I got bored with black straps), but every brown strap I have bought is not dark enough. I had to figure out a way to stain them to a darker brown, most ideally something between brown and black.

    I started working right away, and forgot to take pictures of the brown straps before they were stained. The original color looked like this (product image from the Amazon store that I bought the straps from):

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    I put about 10 drops of "dark walnut" wood stain into a tea spoon-ful of coconut oil, and stirred it until it became a dark brown paste. The idea came from some online leather-care tips, saying that coconut oil is good for leather maintenance, and can also soften it. I also happen to have some left-over wood stain.

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    I used a Q-tip to apply the paste onto the straps that I wanted to darken. After a few minutes, I used a clean piece of cloth to wipe off the excess oil, and cleaned the straps. The straps are now much darker, almost black, but not black. They look very nice.

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    If only coconut oil is used, the leather will turn a little darker for about less an hour, and will return to almost the original color after that. But with the stain, the darker color remains on the leather, which also feels a little softer now. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

    I guess with different shades of stain, leather can be dyed/stained to different colors. And it is more effective to stain new straps (fresh from the store), because we haven't rubbed much of our human oil or dirt into the leather, and the staining color will be more even and consistent. But the good thing about using coconut oil is that, if the color is not satifactory the first time, we can do it multiple times, because the oil is said to be good for the leather, right?

    There are people using water based dye to stain leather, also with good results. But they use water to dilute the dye, instead of oil, and they have to let the leather sit and dry, and will need to seal it before use.
    Last edited by longface; March 17th, 2017 at 00:40.

  2. #2
    Member longface's Avatar
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    Re: My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)

    Even the small leather loops take the coloring pretty well. I love the result.

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    Iandk likes this.

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    Re: My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)

    I'm curious how that holds up in the long term, with a stain rather than a dye.

    Keep us updated!

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    Member 5-Oclock-Somewhere's Avatar
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    Re: My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)

    Use olive oil. Less mess, permanent result.
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    Member longface's Avatar
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    Re: My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)

    Quote Originally Posted by 5-Oclock-Somewhere View Post
    Use olive oil. Less mess, permanent result.
    But virgin olive oil is so expensive!

    I'll give this a try on my next project. Thanks.

  6. #6
    Member longface's Avatar
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    Re: My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)

    Quote Originally Posted by Iandk View Post
    I'm curious how that holds up in the long term, with a stain rather than a dye.

    Keep us updated!
    I will post pictures in a few days. I'm wearing this watch every day with long sleeves, and will see how the staining holds up. So far (24 hours after) the color is not rubbing off, yet.

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    Re: My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)

    How do you keep from staining the stitching ?
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    Re: My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)

    Funny this was what I was going to ask, so same question for you sir.

    Quote Originally Posted by CV50 View Post
    How do you keep from staining the stitching ?
    "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf"

  9. #9
    Member longface's Avatar
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    Re: My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)

    Quote Originally Posted by CV50 View Post
    How do you keep from staining the stitching ?
    I was actually hoping to stain the stitching, too, because I prefer less contrast. But the nylon stitching didn't stain very well and remains in the original off-white color. I guess the stain+oil does not penetrate the nylon threads.
    SHANE 1000 and watermanxxl like this.

  10. #10
    Member Iandk's Avatar
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    Re: My way to stain leather straps to a darker color (with furniture stain & oil)

    Well, it is a stain, which means it's actual solid particles, and if whatever binder is in there doesn't stick to nylon, the stain won't hold. (Unlike dyes, which are not particulate; then you start getting into the chemistry of the molecules).

    Hence my curiosity on how well it holds up in comparison to dyes :).

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