The Right Protocol

Please share your knowledge on how to keep your vintage gloves in great shape and looking sharp.

The Right Protocol

Postby Moonlight Graham » September 3rd, 2007, 5:33 pm

From what I've read in the previous topics, I'm trying to establish the right protocol to take tender care of my precious gloves. You've all written many articles about this particular detail or another, but none I think have gathered THE advisory method for true beginners like me. So could anyone of you guys add whatever may be necessary to the following list?

1. Clean the glove, with leather CPR for instance.
2. Apply at least a coat of lanolin to soften and nurture the leather or preserve it.
3. Toss a ball against the wall every other day and catch it again to make sure the cow the glove is made of is not really dead.

But still I have some unanswered questions:

- How often do you apply lanolin on the glove? Once a week, a month?
- And what sort of towels do you use to apply leather CPR and lanolin ? I mean cotton towels ? (I know this one sounds a little silly, but why not asking...)
- And as for the seams, near the wrist band, how do you keep them from deteriorating? Is there any product I could apply on them to fix them as they are today, any kind of varnish, or are they bound to disintegrate little by little ?

Thanks for your help,
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Postby BretMan » September 6th, 2007, 9:34 pm

I'll take a stab at your questions, Moonlight.

- When restoring an older, especially dried-out glove, I will usually give it anywhere from one to three light coats of lanolin, depending on just how dry the leather is.

If the glove is only being displayed, or stored in a clean, dry, room-temperature environment, the leather treatment might last several years. There's not really any need to reapply the conditioner often unless the leather begins to dry out again. If the glove is just sitting on a shelf in cool, dry conditions the leather should stay properly moisturized.

You might take it down from time-to-time and give a light coat just for the sheer enjoyment of working on your glove!

If it's a "gamer" glove being actively used in hot, dusty field conditions, I'll wipe off any accumulated dust as needed and maybe hit it with a light coat of conditioner a couple of times a year to protect it from the elements and keep it soft and flexible.

- I generally use a clean cotton rag to apply conditioner, but have also used a sponge, towels and even the terry cloth pads used to apply automotive waxes. For the best results, apply the conditioner to the rag and not directly to the glove. This helps to avoid oversaturated spots on the glove and gives an even coat.

- There isn't much you can do when a sewn seam begins to pull apart other than treat it gently to avoid further damage or have the seam resewn. Sewing leather takes some specialized tools and can be fairly costly.

Seam deterioration is usually a problem with older (pre-1950's) gloves because they used cotton thread that weakens over time. Most gloves after that point use nylon thread which is much more durable.

Hope that helps!
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Postby Moonlight Graham » September 8th, 2007, 11:38 am

Thanks Bretman, it really helps !

About the seams, I didn't mean those between fingers and palm. I guess my limited vocabulary as far as baseball gloves are concerned got in the way. Actually I was talking about the thin band of cloth that covers the edges of the wrist strap, itself covered with the lacing. Just as you said, I don't think there is much to do anyway.

Now about the laces, is there any way to make new laces look older than they are, or even better, as old as the mitt itself ? I think I read something about that somewhere in the forum but I can't find it again.

Thanks again for your help !
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Postby BretMan » September 8th, 2007, 3:24 pm

I think that you are referring to what is commonly called the "binding", "piping" or even "trim" around the wrist strap and opening of the glove.

This trim is usually leather on the better gloves, but might be either cloth or vinyl on less-expensive ones. The cloth and vinyl trim was much less durable and is often found in poor condition.

This trim serves a largely cosmetic purpose, covering a seam where two thicknesses of leather are sewn together. Instead of having two unfinished edges exposed, the trim is sewn into place to give a neater look and, I suppose, to somewhat protect to exposed area and perhaps strengthen it.

If the binding is deteriorated, it can be replaced. This requires some specialized leather sewing equipment and is fairly expensive. There are several folks who can do this work and they can be found on the internet if you search for "glove restoration" or similar words.

If the binding is leather and in rough shape, but not pulled loose from the stitching, I will just give it a good soaking with leather conditioner to prevent further deterioration. If the stitching holding it in place is pulled out, you might be able to tack it down with a needle and thread in a few spots as a stop-gap measure. Sometimes you can run the thread through the existing holes from the old threads and that eliminates the need for the specialized equipment.
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Postby Moonlight Graham » September 18th, 2007, 2:31 pm

What do you call leather conditioner? I understand you're not talking about lanolin any more. Am I right ? So far, I've given the lanolin treatment to my gloves and you were right, it did very well. One of them was very dry and stiff to the touch but now it could win a beauty contest ! I've used my most beloved glove (so far) to play catch last weekend and I see it needs some further treatment. It looks a little grey at some points. Should I stick to the lanolin solution, or is there any other leather conditioner I can use to guarantee its longevity? Could you give me the name/brand of some of the stuff you use, because I'm sure France is not the right place to find that kind of conditioner and I will certainly have to find it on the web. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.
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Re: The Right Protocol

Postby madhatter » December 15th, 2011, 10:23 am

IMHO, Tenderly is the best leather conditioner for all leather products. It comes from Italy and is available from a few places in the US including our shop and our web site.
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