First time using Vinegaroon...


Well-Known Member
So I wanted to make a black sheath but I didn't really want to use the black dye I have which is Fiebings USMC black. in the past I've had problems with it rubbing off no matter what I did so I tried making up some Vinegaroon.
this stuff worked great! absolutely black with absolutely no rub off. it did have a very mild vinegar smell but that went away in a day or so and after I applied a coat of neetsfoot oil it only smelled like leather.
I mostly use stainless steel and only dye the throat of the sheath but if anyone uses this with a high carbon steel blade you may want to neutralize anywhere that's been dyed with some baking soda and water. I'd be careful with a carbon blade around this stuff.
here's a pic of the knife and sheath...


That's what I used, half a ball of 0000 steel wool in a mason jar and filled up with white vinegar a little above the steel wool.
let it sit for 5-6 days and it was good to go.
one thing I got to be careful handling any leather you don't want dyed, even residue on your fingers will turn leather black.
I've never had issues with USMC black rubbing off, personally. Are you talking about the alcohol based dye or the water based stuff. I had a bottle of water based brown Fiebings and it SUCKED compared to the other stuff.

After I dye leather, I scrub it pretty vigorously with a dry cloth. Then I oil the leather and scrub it again.

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Yea I’m glad I tried it, from now on if I need to do black I’m using that. I’ve yet to find any dye that didn’t have even a little rub off at first but that black dye was hard to set. The last thing I need is for someone to buy a knife then later find dye rub off. I rubbed as hard as I could on this sheath and there was absolutely nothing.
Just curious, do you have and pictures of your work?
I havent done leather work in 3 years or so, so nothing current. I'll see what I can find.

Edit: I found this... it's not what I'd consider my "good" work. That's just a hammer loop that I made. If I had to guess, in that picture it has a coat of oil soaking in. I still have it somewhere. I'm sure it's filthy.

The only leatherwork that I've done that I still have, other than a few sheaths (no clue where they are), that hammer loop, is a pair of shotshell holders for my belt. I THINK I can find those.

Edit 2: and I don't think I have any pictures of any of my work that was dyed black... I dunno. I died a leather sling black and put it on one of my shotguns and that didn't rub off.
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A couple of questions of curiosity.

Do you keep the steel wool in the solution as you use it? Or do you remove it once you have the consistency that you want?

I've also read that if you want a real dark black, you can dye your leather a dark blue first (ie: Prussian Blue) and then dye it black. I'm wondering if you could do the same with the Vinegaroon over a dark blue dye? Or is the Vinegaroon sufficient by itself? And would it prevent rub off if you used it over dyed leather?
The vinegar dissolves the steel wool and the iron oxides have a reaction to the tannins in the leather and turns it blacker than night. So there’s no steel wool left but there is some funky stuff on the bottom and some floating on top, I used a big syringe to pull some from the middle of the jar. The black dye I was using even had seemed to have different tints as I rubbed it and I always had to many rub off problems with it. That’s my experience with Fiebings USMC black, for the folks that have no issues with it that’s great, keep on trucking. For me if I need to dye something black I’ll use vinegaroon.
The best I've used is Fiebings Pro. But black is always hinky for me. Minimum of 3 coats. It takes so much dye to get it looking good. I'd use something that worked better for me, too, if'n I'd came across something I liked better.
That's why I'm using vinegaroon from now on, I've never really had issues with anything but the black dye and I'm not fighting with it any more.
the vinegaroon was simple to make, easy to use and jet black with no problems.
The best I've used is Fiebings Pro. But black is always hinky for me. Minimum of 3 coats. It takes so much dye to get it looking good. I'd use something that worked better for me, too, if'n I'd came across something I liked better.
Have you tried dipping your leather in the dye? That's what I do. Admittedly I haven't done a lot of leather work, but so far that's worked best for me.

However I intend to try the vinegaroon as it is certainly a lot cheaper.
I haven't tried the dipping method but over the years I've learned that black dye is a different animal and I just as soon not mess with it anymoore after I saw the results I got from vinegaroon. I haven't had any finishing problems with any other color.