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How to make Cuir boulli with extra glue hardening

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Published on Mar 19, 2010

Nobody knows today exactly how Cuir boulli was made historically, just that it was boiled, cooked or somehow baked hardened leather that was tough enough to use as armour, reisistive to cuts and you could paint it. Since you can't paint waxed leather and it cuts easily, it can't have been waxed, or at least that's not the main method. Instead of doing this with molten wax, I'm baking the leather and adding a natural hide glue that's been around from at least bronze age to modern times.
This is oil tanned leather. Normally you can't harden that at all, baking it just won't take, except with wax but I figured out how to fix that. But first washing the leather with Yes (for washing dishes), then soaking it in water mixed with baking soda over night gets most of the excess oil out and then you can bake it.
Baking leather is done by having it wet put in the oven at 70-85 degrees Celsius and "baking" it for a couple of hours until it gets hard. 85 degrees is where the leather will start to shrink and shrivel and turn hard but brittle, seems like a good idea at first but it's not.
The best material that gives the best result is natural vegetable tanned leather, but with the baking soda trick you can do it with other leather too.

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