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Thread: Tin Cloth Recipe

  1. #1
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Default Tin Cloth Recipe

    OK I am a glutton for punishment. I have been promising this for some time so here it is. I am going to post another recipe, and this one is different, complected (three ingredients) and a little dangerous.

    Yes dangerous!

    If you are obsessed with safety, constantly worried about "what ifs" or scared of being in close proximity to things that might ignite on their own just stop reading now and save us all the late-comer warnings, government advisories and cautions.

    I am presenting my own advice right now so listen up. All of the things I am going to tell you to heat and mix together are dangerous. They can ignite!

    All of them are chemicals that do not boil, they go directly from too hot to on fire!

    For this reason I am advising that if you do this project you do it outside, away from the house, with a fire extinguisher nearby and heat all the ingredients in a double boiler


    The double boiler I consider a necessity due to the low flash points of the materials. Each of them ignites at around 300 degrees F. The recommended wax ignites at 250 degrees F. If you use direct heat on a stove you have no precise control of that exact temperature. If you use a double boiler your temp will never exceed 212 F degrees so you will probably not turn yourself into a crispy critter.

    My double boiler was a simple device made by sitting a small tin can inside a larger tin can with water in it, sitting on a hot plate.

    Also, applying this mixture will ruin whatever base layer you have beneath it. Cover any surfaces you are using with plastic or you will wind up throwing the table, ironing board or counter top away. Some of you would wind up divorced so take heed.

    If you are in a hurry and need it yesterday just leave now and go play with your I phone because this treatment takes time, which is probably why Filson charges $300 for the application.

    Now for the rest of the story.


    Back in the day outdoor companies waterproofed their gear, coats, packs, bags and such with a wax treatment we have come to call "Tin Cloth". Filson is the most well known company that still offers this treatment to their classic gear and it is good enough for some folks to still pay $500 for a Filson Tin Cloth chore coat that would cost only $200 without the coating from the same Filson catalog.

    In the old days the basis of this finish was bees wax, and it can still be done with bees wax, but that is no longer what Filson and the other companies use. Today they use a "petroleum wax".

    I searched all over the internet trying to find a recipe for this petroleum wax and how to apply it. I found dozens of recipes and sets of instructions and guess what???

    !!!THEY WERE ALL HORSE HOCKEY!!!

    None of them worked, and I tried more than a dozen over the last two months. Apparently all these people were google searching, finding the same recipes and advising them without ever trying them! Not only did they not work, some of them ruined the fabric samples I tested them on.

    Imagine that!!!

    Someone on the internet was wrong!

    My instructions and recipe have been tested. They work. They make a true "tin cloth" of the old style. I tested the mixtures and application on canvas painter's tarp, heavy cotton pillow ticking until I got it right and each application is a long process, so it took several weeks to make sure it was correct.

    After it was perfected I applied it to a finished cotton hunting coat from Cabellas , a yuppie level chore coat from Banana Republic and several cotton based caps and hats I found hanging behind doors and on racks around the house. It works, so I am passing it on.

    Here is how it works.

    You will need;
    A heat gun or strong hair dryer
    The before mentioned double boiler
    16oz of boiled linseed oil
    16oz of mineral spirits
    1 wax commode ring (5oz)

    Yep that is right, a wax commode ring!

    This recipe will render enough of the formula to treat a thigh length chore coat and have enough left to treat a cap or hat. It will treat two hunting shirts or probably three fishing vests.

    When the water in the double boiler is hot place the wax commode ring in the device and melt it. When it is melted slowly add the boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits. Wait until the entire mixture is hot. Do not remove the mixture from the double boiler to apply, it will cool and turn mushy. It needs to remain hot and fluid.

    Using a clean paint brush apply the liquid to the fabric saturating the surface completely. Stir the mixture every few minutes. It will soak in very well while hot and the wax does not turn lumpy or solid while you are working with it as long as the mixture is kept hot

    Once the entire garment is saturated hang it on a heavy coat hanger in a dry place out of the sunshine and let it dry.

    Drying will take a full week. Do not go back and check the item every half hour! Do not go back and check the item every day! Go away and leave it alone for a full week.

    The reason is simple. For the first two or three days you are going to think you have ruined the item. The wax will remain gooey and it will feel slimy to the touch. At some point between day 4 and 6, and it varies between fabrics, everything will dry out and turn to unfinished tin cloth.

    When the garment has dried it will not feel waxy or oily and it will not smell.

    Now that the item is dry it is time to "finish" it. The finish is what turns the application int real "tin cloth". You can not skip this part. It is the key to the entire process looking like you did it on purpose.

    Take your hair dryer or heat gun, and being very careful, apply heat to the fabric one section at a time, bringing the wax in the fabric to nearly melting, but not burning the fabric. You will see the wax in the mixture change color and go nearly liquid. As it does any lumping of the wax as it dried, or streaking of the treatment on the fabric, will be absorbed or disappear giving you a smooth and slightly waxy appearance.

    You now have "Tin Cloth".

    Any of the mixture that is left over can be saved, reheated and it works fine. It will turn solid, but not hard, overnight and I suspect it would make a good leather treatment!

    I would suggest you follow my instructions exactly for your first effort, but in this instance I will admit that I adjusted the formula a dozen different ways and still had some measure of success. The "16oz/16oz/1 ring" is simply easy to remember and works perfectly.

    If you adjust it you are on your own!!!

    You need your mineral spirits in there because they are your dryer and without them the fabric will never dry. However, if you want a more waxy surface, as you would on a pack or bag, you can use two commode rings and it will still work. You can use a bit less oil if you are running short, but the oil seems to be the carrier for the wax so you need enough to float the melted wax.

    I had success with mixtures as dense as 1 part linseed oil/1 part mineral spirits/1 part wax. It took two weeks to dry and was extremely stiff, but it worked.

    And here is a tidbit, you can substitute an equal amount of bees wax for the commode ring if you want a historically accurate waterproofing. None of the other instructions change. Just be aware that you can use too much bees wax and it will sit on top of the fabric and look terrible. Be stingy with it.

    At any rate, I have a Banana Republic "tin cloth" chore coat to wear this fall. It is equal to a $500 Filson and I have about $20 in the Ebay coat and exactly $10 in the mixture.

    I also have a Cabellas "tin cloth" safari jacket which can not be had from anywhere!

    And a half dozen hats that will hold water.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 09-04-2016 at 09:57 PM.
    Come to the dark side, we have pudding.


  2. #2
    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    awesome, now what do I have that's need a tin cloth treatment.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Sooooo...If I substitute "tin"......what temp does the "tin" melt?....You know for a "real tin cloth".


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    Outstanding! I'll treat some canvas for a 'vous poncho soon. Thanks for the experimentation and sharing.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Excellent. What if I change..............
    Can't Means Won't

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I think I just saw a small mushroom cloud over Kentucky.

  7. #7
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    As long as you don't add roofing tar, turpentine, or buttermilk to it you should be fine.

    BTW, this treatment does turn the fabric a shade or two darker. I think it is the coloring they add to the commode ring that does it.
    Come to the dark side, we have pudding.

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    Ed edr730's Avatar
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    I remember older people using a mix like that on tents and things. I never knew what was in it except wax and was often curious about it. I have seen some white wax toilet rings tho.

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    Thanks for the info! If I let the mixture harden will it also work like Filson wax? I have a few Filson hats that haven't been treated in years & need help. I packed them away & forgot I had them! Funny how retiring & moving to the country has increased my inventory of toys & equipment. Now to do all the projects I've put off for years & enjoy life.

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by backshot View Post
    Thanks for the info! If I let the mixture harden will it also work like Filson wax? I have a few Filson hats that haven't been treated in years & need help. I packed them away & forgot I had them! Funny how retiring & moving to the country has increased my inventory of toys & equipment. Now to do all the projects I've put off for years & enjoy life.
    .....works out if you have the cash to keep up......LOL....
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  11. #11

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    Can someone explain the main difference in uses for tin-cloth vs oil-cloth?

  12. #12
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by backshot View Post
    Thanks for the info! If I let the mixture harden will it also work like Filson wax? I have a few Filson hats that haven't been treated in years & need help. I packed them away & forgot I had them! Funny how retiring & moving to the country has increased my inventory of toys & equipment. Now to do all the projects I've put off for years & enjoy life.
    This basically is the same formula as Filson wax except that the canned wax they sell for conditioning has more wax in it so it will harden like shoe polish. You rub it in instead of melting and brushing it on and then heat it with a heat source to bled it.

    The hard wax treatment is not intended for complete treatment and generally is used to "touch up" bare spots or hard use areas.

    The recipe I have given is cheap enough to treat entire garments and it blends and finishes better than what you would get in the small cans.

    This particular blend will not completely harden to a solid form and will remain quite mushy. If you want it to harden completely double the wax content, but be aware that it may leave a wax residue when you finish it.

    After using "oil cloth" for years and now using the "tin cloth" I find the main difference being durability, waterproofing and ability to treat fabrics with tincloth that will not be waterproof with oilcloth.

    The wax in the tincloth fills the open weaves of less dense fabrics, gives a nice dry, tough to the touch finish that beads water and sheds it from the surface.

    Oilcloth works well for dense close weave fabrics but it is not as tough and durable as the tincloth.

    The only difference between the recipes is the addition of the wax to the tincloth and the hot wax method of application. The standard oilcloth recipe is still the base but the difference between the finished fabrics is profound.

    The only thing I can tell anyone is to make up a small batch and use it on some natural fabric garment that you would otherwise throw away. Check your results and decide for yourself if the time and effort is worth it.

    You might find that you have extended the lifespan of some favorite article you would have otherwise thrown out.

    My last garment treated was a cotton alphenflague field jacket I got from Sportsmans' Guide two for $10 or some such price. I now have an alphenflague tincloth jacket in each vehicle that sheds water instead of soaking it up.
    Come to the dark side, we have pudding.

  13. #13

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    Thanks for that explanation on the differences. I'm going to treat several pieces, but was trying to determine what might work best on some hunting pants. They are a heavy canvas material that has a nylon front for protection. I've been spraying it with a commercial waterproofer, but it needs frequent applications and is expensive. It's the nylon front that has me wondering. It covers the underlying canvas, so unless I treat from the inside (haven't heard anyone mention trying that), I'm afraid that the nylon won't be water resistant enough with the homemade preps. I don't want to ruin these, because they are good ones with a lot of life left in them. So, is it advisable to treat the nylon with the tin-cloth formula, or maybe treat from the inside?

  14. #14

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    Almost forgot... when picking up the supplies, I noticed that there were a couple choices in solvents. One was labeled VM&P Naphtha, but not called mineral spirits and one was labeled mineral spirits, but did not say it was naphtha - it appeared to have a different chemical on the label. I though mineral spirits was supposed to be naphtha. Can someone clear this up for me?

  15. #15
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    The principal differences between the two are evaporation rate and oiliness. Naphtha evaporates more quickly than mineral spirits and is “drier,” or less oily. Mineral spirits is a lower distillate than Naptha. If you think of Naptha being lighter fluid you are on the right track. Naptha is a stronger solvent than mineral spirits, which can have some percentage of water in it. There is none in Naptha (unless you mess up storing it )


  16. #16
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I have used both types of "mineral spirits" and both work OK.

    As for the application on two layers of fabric, I would turn the pants inside out and treat both sides.

    Remember that when you apply this stuff you are applying heat melted wax in a chemical carrier which fills the weave of the fabric then turns solid when it cools. The linseed oil dilutes the wax enough that the whole mess does not turn back into a candle wax like substance as it cools, then the mineral spirits dry the oils so they do not remain sticky.

    The finish is tough and stiff and when you get done with it the first thing you think is "this stuff is tough as nails".

    I would really recommend that you do a test application before applying to an expensive garment to insure you have the blend and the result as you want it before doing something expensive.
    Come to the dark side, we have pudding.

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    Ed edr730's Avatar
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    Best not to use the Naptha. Coleman fuel seems to be Naptha or is similar. It explodes more easily than gasoline while mineral spirits will ignite like charcoal lighter fluid. If you did decide to use Naptha, I would suggest mixing the linseed oil with the Naptha first and light a teaspoon of it first to test it's flammability after it is mixed. I'm pretty sure Naptha and the linseed oil would still be too flammable to use an open flame unless the wax was already mixed up with the linseed oil first.

  18. #18
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    In many areas the terms naphtha and mineral spirits are used interchangeably as "spirits of naphtha".

    And the flammability of the entire mess is the reason I stressed the use of a double boiler for this work in the OP and recommended that it be done outside and not in the house.
    Come to the dark side, we have pudding.

  19. #19
    Ed edr730's Avatar
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    I used the recipe and it worked very well on a big sheet. I even poured hot water on the mixture in a five gallon bucket mixed well and dunked the sheet and it still worked fine.
    I meant to say the mineral spirits ignited like charcoal lighter fluid and burns slow while coleman fuel or Naptha can explode and should not be with 10 feet of a flame before the recipe is thoughly mixed.
    I know you strongly emphasized the warnings. When I thought of someone using what I know as Naptha, I just wanted to say "listen up" these are fear of God type warnings. I liked the recipe and will continue to use it often.

  20. #20

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    Great suggestions. I have a hunch that less of the stronger Naphtha is needed in the mixture to begin with. I will definitely mix it with the linseed oil first.

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