Tips and questions on custom dyed/oiled leather smart covers

Discussion in 'iPad Accessories' started by cinca, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. cinca macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    I thought I would start a thread around the practice some have taken to of customizing their leather smart covers by using leather oil to treat the outer leather surface -- typically darkening it and giving it a richer, more leather like appearance. (subjective but a lot of comments seem to support this opinion).

    For those that already have done it I thought we might be able to exchange tips amongst one another and answer questions from other users thinking about doing it.

    For those own the fence or unfamiliar with the option I thought a separate thread just about this might be a nice highlight of the option,

    I will point out that there are bits and pieces of advice tucked away in other posts here and there but I thought a new thread might help to consolidate.

    I will share my experience. I ordered the tan after reading about people doing this and feeling optimistic from some of the photos. I ordered Obenauf's Leather Oil from Cabela's hunting store online and waited 4 days for its arrival. Once it arrived I applied the oil liberally and freaked out a bit because it was very streaky but it was just the leather taking 20-30 seconds to soak in the oil and darken. It quickly was all the same color and after making sure I got some nooks and crannies around the hinge I let it dry. I applied VERY liberally and wiped off the excess per the instructions. I was also cautious around the edges as to avoid the oil beading over the edge and staining the microfiber inter lining of the smart cover.

    I am overall very happy with the darker, richer brown color. I would describe it as a walnut brown that is very even across the entire cover. I was hoping it would be a bit lighter and a little more "natural" looking. I guess I am hoping that over time as it dries out and gets folded hundreds of times and gets a few scuff "beauty marks" I will like it even more. A natural brown leather ages more gracefully in my opinion with age and looks even better when it has the look of s nice nice worn saddle / baseball mitt / boots / etc.

    I am less sure about how some of the other colors will age over time.

    Overall, a huge improvement (IMHO) over the corrugated cardboard color the tan case was originally. Not sure if I like it more than the black but I really do like having something semi-unique.

    For those nervous with the process it was my first time I ever used a product like this and was very quickly comfortable with the process.

    I have attached a few pictures grabbed from other random posts that show the result of other folks application on the tan. These photos are very representative of my final result. I am new to posting in these forums so if it's poor form to "steal" photos from other posts I apologize -- just trying to consolidate the discussion for those that have recently done it or those considering it.

    If anyone has pictures they would like to contribute please add it to the thread and I will take these "stolen" images down.

    Any questions..?

    Attached Files:

  2. cinca thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    I thought I would contribute to the discussion by asking anyone that has used the leather oil to darken/treat their cover.

    How long did the leather take to "dry"?

    I treated my tan cover two days ago and the cover still has a very slight oily tackiness to it. Does this go away? How long should it take? Does the oil just change forever the smooth "micro suede" feel my tan smart cover originally had? It's currently doesn't feel BAD, nor does it seem to be or feel greasy per se.. But the texture of the smart cover is definitely different.. Any advice or experience?

    On the leather oil bottle it says it takes up to two weeks for the color to finalize. Should I expect it to darken? Lighten? Will the texture and feel of the leather change.

    Well that's it.. Anyone else with experience using this product on the smart covers? Thoughts on any of my questions or questions of your own..?
  3. cinca thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    There was discussion in another thread about this treatment on other colors of the smart cover. Specifically a handful of people talked about this looking potentially great on read (myself included)! But there wasn't consensus on how good it would look and nobody was excitedly volunteering to be the guinea pig.

    Anyone give using the pail on red yet..? I bit the bullet and got the tan because red was gonna be a wait but I think the red might look really nice -- going from the firebrick/Ferrari red to a more rich, earthier looking cranberry red..?

    So -- anyone taken the plunge and oiled the red smart cover and can take minutes to share your reaction/photos/advice.
  4. gooner2011 macrumors newbie

    Mar 28, 2011
    is there another alternative to obenauf's , im in the uk and cant find anywhere that sells it.. or does anyone know of an american site with reasonable international postage costs, thanks in advance
  5. TC25 macrumors 68020

    Mar 28, 2011
    I'd think searching for 'leather oil' at UK stores would find something similar.
  6. glen e, Apr 1, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011

    glen e macrumors 68030

    Jun 19, 2010
    Ft Lauderdale
    you need to let this dry a long time - like two weeks total - preferably in the sun. Just use your new cover, but when you can, sit it in the sun. Also don't glop it on, use your head - several thin films are better than lathering it on so thick it's dripping off. Go slow and have some patience. The reason it works better on light covers like the tan is the original color is not fighting the oil for dominance....I personally would not do red.

    If you can't find the oil, go to a leather shop and ask, women all of over the world want all sorts of things dyed a diff color, this is not rocket science...
  7. TC25, Apr 1, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011

    TC25 macrumors 68020

    Mar 28, 2011
    Providing a link and otherwise highlighting the product used would help as well, instead of burying it in a paragraph of text.

    Doing this on any color Smartcover but tan would not be a good idea, IMO. Here's the advice from the instructions. (link to full copy included below). There are not many 'discrete areas' on a Smartcover. :(

    "Test carefully in a small, discrete area when beginning this process to make sure you are pleased with the effect."

    Obenauf's Leather Oil

    The same product is also available at;


    Instructions for using - Here's the information about drying time. Keep in mind this same product is used on leather furniture, so there's no need to put it in the sun to dry. I doubt many people use this on their leather sofa then drag it outside to dry. :)

    The recommended approach is to apply one treatment, wait a reasonable amount of time for it to absorb (2-3) hours, then test for dryness by applying a bit more oil. If it still absorbs easily, you can apply another coat. Always apply at room temperature. When you are finished with your treatment, let the item set overnight, then buff to remove any excess oil. Buffing will restore the leather to a soft finish.

    Product Web Site
  8. KittyKatta, Apr 1, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011

    KittyKatta macrumors 6502a


    Feb 24, 2011
    I bought a Tan cover and planned to stain it with Obenaups but got frustrated that very few people sell it and I have a problem with paying $7 shipping on a $10 product. So I went with what I found around the house. 2 coats Olive Oil applied with a diaper and topped with Mink Oil to protect it. I dont necessarily recommend my method since I know little about leather but a friend recommended this and here's my results with Tan.


    (BTW? You describe the process you went through pretty thoroughly so why not show pics of yours as a result rather than someone elses who might have done things differently?

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