How to Condition and Restring Your Red Pen Travelers Handcrafted Leather Notebook


Howdy there, YouTubers! This is Toni Gatlin from RedPenTravelers.com. Today I’d like to talk with you about conditioning
your leather notebook and restringing the elastic. They’re both very simple steps so let’s just
jump right in. First thing you need to do is disassemble
your notebook. Take out all of your inserts and untie the
knots for the elastic and unstring all of that so that you just have the plain piece
of leather. You don’t want anything getting in the way
while you’re conditioning here. Also, conditioning tends to be a little bit
messy, so I always put something down to protect my work surface, such as it is here. Often I’ll just unfold a big piece of cardboard,
like from a cardboard box. Amazon boxes work great for that, if you’ve
ordered something large and you’ve got a big piece of cardboard. So just put something down to protect your
surface, that’s all you really need to focus on. I’m going to take my rings off here because
this might get a little messy. There are a couple different things that you
can use for conditioning your notebook. You want to look for something that’s really
thick and rich; you typically want to steer away from liquids. You don’t want to put liquid oil, don’t reach
for the olive oil or something out of your kitchen cabinets! You want something solid, especially if it’s
got something like beeswax or some kind of a waterproofing agent in there, that’s always
a plus. If you’ve got access to a leather shop, something
you can get there is Aussie Leather Conditioner. This has lanolin and beeswax and some really
great conditioning ingredients, as well as things that are going to help repel water. This is typically what I use, but if you don’t
have access to that, or can’t find it online and just want to go for something you might
already have in your cabinet, Bag Balm has some similar ingredients and gives very similar
results. This is something you can turn to in a pinch. Or even not in a pinch, you can just use this. It’s great, I turn to this now and then as
well and like I said, get very similar results. You want to go for something that’s very thick
and rich, not a liquid, something that’s really going to be a good creamy, thick, rich conditioner. I just reach in with my fingers and pull out
some, and we’re just going to rub it all over the leather. Now when I’m creating a new notebook, working
on an order for someone, I do all this after I’ve done the dyeing and all of the design
work and everything, I do all this before I punch the holes for
the elastic so that I don’t have to worry about it getting all in there. But for conditioning it afterwards, obviously,
those holes are going to be there. We’re just going to go all over both the outside
of the notebook and the inner flesh side of the leather. Just make sure to get along the edges too. I’m probably being slightly more generous
with the conditioner than I really need to be here, so you could be maybe a little bit
more sparing. But I want to make sure you can see what I’m
doing there on the video. You want to make sure you’ve got it coated
all over. Typically I’ll let this sit overnight, or
at least a few hours. Or if I do it in the morning, sometimes I’ll
come back and do the buffing in the evening. You want to let it sit there for a while if
you can. Now there is a limit to how much leather can
absorb. If you’ve got dry skin, even if you sat in
a whole bathtub of oil, you’re skin is only going to absorb so much. It’s not like you can just leave it on there
forever, it’s not really going to absorb more than its normal capacity. But I do like to give it a chance to absorb. This one’s already in pretty good shape, it
didn’t really need conditioning, I just wanted to kind of demonstrate. I’m going to go ahead and continue on through
the buffing process here. What I typically do, you don’t necessarily
have to do this at home, but just because I’m doing this at kind of a bigger volume
than most folks, you know when I’m going a bunch of notebooks
at a time, I have this little scraper widget here and
I’ll go along and I’ll scrape off the excess conditioner,
and I’ll show you why in just a second. So I’m just going to scrape all this off and
just set it over here. Now I’m just going to take a rag, this is
simply a piece of cut up t-shirt. You can use any sort of soft rag that you
can throw away. This’ll get super greasy so you’re not going
to want to try and throw it in your washing machine or anything. I’m just going to buff off the excess so that’s
why I took off most of it with my little scraper, so it’s not getting huge globs of conditioner
in my rag so it’ll last a little bit longer. I’m just going to go across the whole surface,
just with soft You can press pretty firmly, leather is really
durable, you’re not going to hurt it, especially if you’ve got a nice soft cloth. Now don’t use anything harsh, but if you’ve
got a soft cloth, you’re fine. So just keep rubbing and trying to polish
off all the rest of that conditioner and give it a nice smooth buffed surface again. You may find that your notebook feels a little
bit, maybe not greasy exactly but it may feel just a little bit softer than you want it
to right after you condition it and that will disappear after a day or two. You may want to wait, even after you’ve done
all the buffing, you may want to wait until the next day to replace all your inserts
just to keep things from rubbing off or getting greasy. See, now that I’ve got my holes punched, I’m
going to have to come back and kind of clean those out a little bit
so I don’t have little globs of conditioner hiding out in there when it’s time to restring. Now that the conditioner has been all rubbed
in and buffed off here and you’ve got a nice clean supple piece of leather to work with,
we can restring the elastic. Just make sure that you’ve used a toothpick
or something to clean any conditioner that’s in these holes. You don’t want it left in there and getting
your elastic greasy; that’s going to be kind of gross. If you’re working with the elastic that came
out of your notebook in the first place, it’s already going to be measured for you. But if you are starting from scratch or with
a big piece of elastic and you need to trim it to the right size,
I’ll show you how to do that. If you’ve got three holes along the top of
your spine here, you’re going to need four lengths here. I’ll show you how that works. One, two, three, and four. You need four lengths if you’ve got three
holes there. And then for the elastic that goes around
the middle, just the width of your notebook. We’re all ready to go here. Let’s just set up the elastic that goes in
the spine here. This is a time when you’ll appreciate if you’ve
got eyelets in your notebook rather than the small holes. The eyelets are going to be a little bit bigger
and give you more room to work with. But this is definitely doable. Just put that elastic in, tie a little knot
back here, make sure you grab the ends there and pull
it really tight. You want to make sure it’s really secure and
that this isn’t going to go anywhere. This is what’s going to hold your notebook
together. When it comes to doing the elastic straps,
you’re going to start from the inside of your notebook. Turn it over to this flesh side of the leather. You’re going to start in this first hole and
come up in the middle hole. And just come up a little bit, just a few
inches there. Then take your elastic and go down in this
hole, I’ll try and keep my hands out of the way
so you can see what’s going on here. Then back up in this middle hole again. Then here’s where you’re going to have to
squeeze a little bit. Move this other elastic out of the way of
this middle hole and you’re going to go down this hole again. So this one’s going to have two elastics there. Then come back up that third hole. And then back over to this side. And you’ve got to do the same thing on this
one, scoot that elastic out of the way the best you can,
and push it through. There you go. So on the outside you should have the two
loops at either end, and on the inside right now you’ve got three
straps and you have these two extras that are coming out of the middle holes. These you can just tie together and that becomes
your fourth strap. Make sure that that’s nice and secure as well. You can kind of play with the tension here
to get it just right. If you like it to be a tighter fit, just tie
this knot tighter and get it exactly the way you need it to be. Now we’ve got our notebook conditioned, soft
and protected and semi-waterproof all over again
and we’ve got our elastic strung. Everything’s fresh and ready to go, ready
to put our inserts inside. This is one that I carry in my purse so it’s
a really simple setup. I have a little notebook from Poppin; this
is a Passport-sized notebook that I’m using here
so these are passport inserts. And then this is just a little kraft-paper
insert. Actually I think I usually have this one in
front. Maybe. I may have them out of order now, I’m not
sure. I have one in the front, and one in the back,
and then in the middle I have a little plastic divider,
a little pocket with some stickers in it and then business cards. I love using my little binder clip trick to
hold a pen. You just clip the binder clip into your notebook. I just have it gripped on a bunch of pages
there. Flip it down and you’ve got a little pen tucked
in. There you go, ready to go back into my purse. Thanks for watching, bye bye!

2 thoughts on “How to Condition and Restring Your Red Pen Travelers Handcrafted Leather Notebook

  1. hi greetings from Berlin Germany.Nice video Thank you for sharing it.
    do you know if there is a different between the yellow and the brown Aussie Tin, because i bought one the other day and the tin (container) is yellow and not brown like yours.
    Thank you in advance ( :

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