I received a pair of suede Birkenstock Bostons for father’s day and because of the wet terrain here in the Pacific Northwest, I decided to give ’em a good dubbing.

As far as I can gather, the term “dubbing” is a derivative of “dubbin” which is an ancient recipe for leather dressing that consists of natural waxes, oils, and tallow.  In WWII, soldiers were issued “service shoes” which were roughout (suede-side out) boots which were then treated (dubbed) in order to protect the boots from water and chemical warfare agents.

I’ve been wanting to try this out for a while now and had purchased a jar of Sno-Seal a while ago in case I ever got the urge.  I basically followed the instructions per this site, but here’s the basic process I went through:

There’s really nothing to it.  Basically, just dip your fingers in, scoop up a glob and start working it into the suede.

After you’ve coated the entire shoe, take a blow dryer on high heat and essentially melt the wax into the suede.  You’ll see it seeping in.  Do the whole process over again and you’re done.  It took me maybe 15-20 mins.

Before and after.  You can clearly see the dramatic difference in color and texture.

They are very waterproof now and the waxed finish aids in developing some patina and character that suede doesn’t normally gain.  It’s that dynamic duo of function and aesthetic.

8 responses to “Dubbing

  1. Cool, I link to this from my blog tomorrow. 😉

  2. Pingback: Monday Grab Bag of Links … | The Pretense of Knowledge

  3. me and my boyfriend, we love your blog.

  4. I live in the wet Northwest too. This evening I picked up a pair of suede long wings (Bass Barret) for $39. I was wondering if you think dubbing them is a good idea or not. I’m worried it might not work well because of all the shoes detail. Take care.

    • It’s totally up to you. I’m not sure what you’re worried about not working…that the holes will stunt the waterproofing effect? That the brogueing will not look good dubbed?

  5. I guess I thought that the sno seal might gunk up the holes. I think I’m going to give it a go.

    • I see. Yeah, I’d be careful around the holes and then anything that strays in could probably be taken care of with a brush. It’s not very complicated – you’ll be able to feel it out. Good luck!

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