advice before polishing brand new boots?

topic posted Fri, November 25, 2005 - 4:27 PM by  tee
i just presented my Mistress with a brand <spanking> new pair of high shine black leather boots. mmmmm sexy! Though I' ve enjoyed polishing old and worn boots, I've never blacked a *new* pair of boots before and am wondering if there is anything special I need to do before working on them. I remember hearing something about it before, but don't seem to be able to find any information now.
posted by:
offline tee
SF Bay Area
  • Hi shine boots do not need as much polishing as the normal leather, however it is always a good idea to cover them in black or neutral dubbing and leave it over night preferably in a warm room this will feed the leather and soften it so that they will require less breaking in. It also helps to prevent cracking
    • Unsu...
      and don't forget your mink oil ( or something similar). Play boots can get "wet"sometimes, and it adds even more shine.
      • Unsu...
        Mink oil is actually not the best choice for a pair of high shines. Mink oil is great on oil-tanned boots, but for shiny but not patent leather it'll just get in the way of getting the leather to accept the polish.

        Are you doing a standard bootblacking, or a multi-coat spitshine?
      • Mink Oil should only be used on a pair of workboots that are going to be heavily used for working and that will be thrown away when worn out. Mink Oil is designed for waterproofing. Some of the ingredients in the mink oil that allow it to waterproof a boot, also strip a boot of it's moisture, prematurely drying out the leather and causing it to become brittle and more susceptible to cracking over time.
  • Unsu...
    I've heard this recommended:

    Put on the boots.

    Step into a full bathtub while wearing them. Remain for ten minutes.

    Wear the boots until they dry.

    The person recommending this lived in Phoenix, so the dry time there can be an hour or less. Elsewhere it might take a day or two. It would be one way to assure that the breaking in of the boot creates minimal cracks that need to be filled in with wax later.
    • Unsu...
      a great way to "break in " boots,
      use a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water, rub the interior of the boot with it till it's soaked, wear till dry. The alcohol absobrs better, and doesn't get them as wet as just str8 up water would. I managed a shoe store for a year or so, and that was our technique to fit our customers, it always worked, and never any damage.
      • thanks for all the tips everyone. i'm having a lot of fun gathering all of the info that i can. Loki, I will be doing multicoat spit shine on this particular pair of boots. Did you have some ideas there?

        I also found this little bit of information and wondered what you all think:

        "Brand new leather boots are shipped with a thin, transparent protective coating that must be removed prior to polishing. The most efficient way to remove the coating is to rub shaving cream into the boots with a soft rag. This will remove the coating and soften the leather for a better fit. "

        • Unsu...
          The basic outline is to polish the boots until the pores of the leather are filled in and the surface is entirely smooth, then to add a few extra thin coats that serve to polish the polish rather than the leather. There are dozens of tricks along the way for getting a good spit shine.

          Here's one of the more respected experts, and his writeup on how to do it:

          • I bought a pair of Wesco boots about three years ago or so. I specifially told them when ordering that I wanted to be able to put a parade shine on them. When I got them they appeared to be ready for oil. Is this typical in peoples experience and what can I do to get them to "pop"? I know there are two different schools on how boots should look .
            • I know this is an old thread but the FYI is that Wesco boots are oil tanned and will never ever ever take a high shine. In some extreme cases I know of people who have over a period of a few years and a few hundred layers of polish later have managed a minimal worn combat boot shine but the look is never worth the work.
              • Unsu...

                Wesco engineers are usually oil tanned, but at least if you order them from Stompers, you can also get them made with a glossy leather if you so prefer. Also, Wesco makes boots other than engineers, and maybe some of them are the sort that one puts a high sine on? I'm not sure, I'm just asking. Speaking of asking:

                1) What *is* the proper method to clean and polish oil tanned boots? The Stompers site has a detailed set of instructions to get a high polish, but they don't have a set of instructions for oil tanned.

                2) How does one tell by looking that a piece of leather or a pair of boots are oil tanned anyway?

                Enquiring minds, etc.
                • ang
                  offline 1
                  Hi again...I'm popping posting cherries left and right!

                  I use Huberd's shoe grease for oil tans--- wescos and the like. Apply thinly-ish, let soak while applying to other boot, then buff off. You get a glow, NOT a shine with oil tans.

                  As far as how to tell them apart, polishable leather has a smoother grain, oil tans aren't neccesarily rough, but are less smooth when side by side.

                  The best way i have found it to ask! If the owner of the boots doesn't know and the answer isn't obvious, i would delay the bootwork. The last thing you want to do is oil tight grain boots or polish oil-tans. You would spend a large amount of time sucking up and stripping shoes (some combinations of those key words might prove pleasurable, but not in that order). =)

          • ang
            offline 1

            Re: advice

            I had the pleasure of meeting black at Leather U several years ago.

            His website is chock full of goodies and the hairdryer suggestion is akin to magic. If not publicly or sensually blacking, i highly recommend cranking up a Conair!

      • Keep in mind that the alcohol does damage the leather itself as well as drying it out so, I would recommend breaking the boots in by wearing them. IF you resort to this method or the stand in tub water method for "breaking" in your boots be prepared to then heavily condition, grease or oil, the inside and the outside of the boot leather so as to keep it from drying out and becoming brittle again. Once conditioned or greased, allow the boots to sit a week or so, buff off the excess daily, reapply to dry spots, and then when well soaked and the conditioner has sunk in completely, polish if necessary.

        I am a bootblack at the SF Eagle and in the Bay Area as a whole. You'll find me blacking at Dore, Folsom, Pride, and pretty much any other major party in town.

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