Monday, September 6, 2010

How to resolve a Dent in Leather

It's not unusual that we will encounter a dent or compression mark in leather from moving damage.

Here is a picture that shows the issue.  Some people think steam will help resolve the dent.  However,  The water will stiffen the leather after it dries and may leave it's own reference (e.g. a raised ring). The correct approach is with dry heat applied with a heat gun. That should tighten up the compression area. In this case it's the outside back. There is no formed foam substrate under the leather panel that is also compressed. You have to remove the panel. With a heat gun, focus the heat on and around the compression zone, continually moving the heat gun so as to not over cook in any single area. Do not focus the heat onto the leather in a single spot for more than a few seconds. It may take some time (15 - 20 minutes) but the leather should respond. If you wanted to be a bit more aggressive, then de-tack the bottom panel and with a spray bottle, mist the inside of the leather with water. Do not soak. Then apply the heat. De-tacking also gives the added advantage of pulling the panel tighter when re-tacking. There may be a slight reference of compression when all is said and done, but it will be vastly improved.

Here is a potential outcome.... the compression area tightens as expected. However, in a day or two, it reverts back, but to a much less degree like 10% to 25% of the original compression. (The leather has a memory and thinks it should be in that compressed shape.) If that happens, then you do the dry heat procedure again. Generally it only requires two applications. This is why we take on compression issues in our shop only, else we may be making multiple trips to the client.

In the event the compression is in an area that is backed with foam and the foam is compressed as well (e.g. the top of an arm) then disassembly is required to replace the damaged foam, or at least add batting material to shore up the divot under the leather. The leather can be treated as usual with heat, but the foam won't respond.
Copyright 2010, Kevin Gillan

1 comment:

  1. congrats! keep up the good work/this is a great presentation.

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