cameraleather.com Using the "wet method" to apply your covering parts
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The only things we need other than a clean, well lighted surface, are the camera, a small artists brush, a fresh bottle of Advanced Purell, and our new covering parts . . .


There are some advantages to applying your new leather or leatherette kit "wet" by dampening some or all of the surface of your camera before applying the kit. The liquid temporarily prevents adhesion, and allows you to move the piece around on the surface to get the best possible fit. The ideal liquid provides good lubrication for this purpose, and evaporates completely to allow normal adhesion.

We specify the use of Purell "Advanced" Hand Sanitizer, an alcohol-based gel very popular in the U.S. Advanced Purell contains 70% alcohol and no moisturizers. Under no circumstances should the version of Purell containing moisturizers be used. Most sanitizers with moisturizers contain only 62% alcohol and these should not be used. Advanced Purell has several advantages over plain denatured or isopropyl alcohol. First, it's a gel, and will not run all over (or into) the camera. Second, it evaporates more slowly than alcohol, permitting a longer "open time" to position your part. Purell is also a less volatile combustible than alcohol, although it is a fuel and users should observe the label precautions.

In the U.S. there are a number of "house brand" and equivalent sanitizers available, which may work as well as Purell. But Purell is widely available so it is our standard application liquid. If you can't find Purell in your part of the world, do not use any hand sanitizers that claim to have "moisturizers," or that claim to leave skin less dry than other sanitizers. Advanced Purell dries fast and reliably, which is an advantage in promoting adhesion of your new leather.

Please remember, that pump bottle contains Hand Sanitizer, and the principal listed ingredient is alcohol. It looks like a hand soap bottle, but never, ever use liquid soap as an application liquid--or else your parts will never stick down!


Anyone can use the wet method. It really takes more skill to apply the kit dry. The successful use of the wet method will require a little patience, and a little faith. Faith?  There may come a point in your project where you are convinced your new kit will not stick to the camera. In fact you may be sure that you have bungled the job. Time is your friend . . . you can be sure that all of the liquid will evaporate soon, and your kit will stay where you want it.

We are using the lid of a Fuji film canister to hold "one pump" of Purell. You can dispense the Purell anywhere as long as the container, or surface, is clean. To apply it to our camera, we are using a small, cheap artist's brush. You can buy these cheaply at the drug store if you don't have one around the house. It really doesn't matter what kind of brush as long as it's very clean. Don't use a cotton swab, since you don't want any loose cotton fibers left on the camera. Clean your brush, even if it is new. Purell also acts as a good brush cleaner, so you can dampen the brush in a pool of Purell, and wipe the bristles dry with a clean cloth. Do this several times and then discard the "dirty" pool of Purell.

Before proceeding, make sure the camera body is as clean as you can get it . . . no glue residue, hidden bits of vulcanite, dirt, grease or other contaminants. Purell is also a good cleaning agent to use for a final wipe-down of the camera body.

If you have purchased our kid skin (goat) leather parts other than black, then you should read this page fully before applying any fluid to the camera.



Depending on your camera and the section of leather that you are fitting, you can choose to dampen all or part of the surface under the leather. As a general rule, it is suggested to dampen the inboard area, but leave the outboard area dry. The inboard end of the leather (next to the lens mount) is always placed first, and proper placement here is important. On our Leica, we are applying the Purell to the inboard area, from the lens mount to the two black body screws. You don't need to put too much Purell down . . . enough to make everything look quite wet, but no so much that you end up with "jelly".

If we get the inboard placement exactly right, we can be confident the outboard end will sit correctly. So we are leaving the outboard end dry.

On fixed-lens cameras where the inboard edge of leatherette is hidden, the inboard area should always be dampened. The Canonet and Yashica Electros are both examples where the leather must be slid up against a lens mount which is hiding behind the lens barrel or ring. If the new leather is applied "dry" it will always want to stick too far "out" and you will end up with leather that is too long at the outboard ends.


We're also wetting the entire self timer arm and hub. One of the main reasons to use the wet method is to prevent the leather from getting stuck on self timer arms and other appendages that you need to get the sticky leather over, or around. Other examples of things to dampen are shutter release and flash synch rings on the front of TLR's, the "Type C" lugs on Leicas, or anything else that you may need to "work" the leather over to get seated properly.

Some camera owners who are skilled at recovering, dampen
only the appendages like timer arms and strap lugs, to keep the adhesive from "catching" them.

If you choose to dampen the surface of the camera, hold it against a good light, so you can make sure that all parts you want treated are wet.






You can now slide the new section around easily . . . the gel allows you to "float" over the self timer arm and trigger; you can even slide the piece under the rewind lever . . . if you missed a spot and feel the adhesive sticking somewhere, just grab the thin part under the lens mount and give a little tug. . .  .




Once it seems to be placed right, take a close look at all the edges, the screw holes, the top and bottom plates.  Now is the time to make any fine adjustments.

Once you're satisfied, use your thumb to start pressing down the inboard end. Do this all around . . . you may notice the Purell being squeezed out from the edges and holes. You can just wipe off or blow a little on the liquid to watch it disappear . . . .





With the "wet zone" now perfectly aligned, we can place the "dry zone" with confidence. Keeping the outboard end dry will "lock" our leather in place. If we had applied the whole section "wet" it's possible that subsequent handling might move the piece slightly before all the Purell has evaporated.



For the back, we are using a slightly different approach, by wetting the entire area where our new leather will sit. Make sure that you brush the liquid right up to --and over-- the edges. The liquid won't harm any exposed metal or painted surfaces. This method works well on sections that lie flat, such as the side or front panels of TLR's. We can set the leather down, and slide the whole thing around as necessary to get it placed precisely.

Then using our thumb, we can press down all around, using enough pressure to squeeze out the excess Purell, but no so much pressure that we might accidentally move the leather. Within a few hours, we can go back and apply more pressure. By this time the Purell will have completely evaporated from some areas, and the new covering will start to adhere on it's own.

If you want to use the camera immediately, you can dry off the Purell completely right now . . . .




Carefully pry up one side of the leather, making sure not to move the portion that is still sitting down. Blow lightly on the newly exposed parts of the camera and the back of the leather, and the remaining moisture will flash off quickly. You can watch the liquid disappear, and then carefully fold the leather down in place again. You can now repeat the procedure with the other side. (You can also use "canned air" for this purpose.)

On larger sections, like a side panel on a 6X6 TLR, you really only need lift up an inch or less on the top and bottom. That will be more than enough to "lock" the piece down, and the remaining moisture in the middle will go away over the next day or so.





We're doing the same thing here on the front, but peeling back just a portion of the covering to blow of the moisture underneath. If this Leica had been equipped with the lens preview lever, we would not peel it back so far. The liquid did it's job the first time, allowing us to get around the lever without sticking to it . . . so we would be asking for trouble by doing it again without the benefit of the liquid. In other words, you should only "peel back and blow-dry" parts of the covering that are free and clear of any appendages such as timer arms, bezels, etc.

After waiting a day or two, it's a good idea to go around and apply good finger pressure to the whole covering, especially the edges and those areas that don't get pressed down by your hands in normal use.



Special instructions for kid skin (goat) parts: You should not use Purell except very sparingly on kid skin parts, because the alcohol can stain the leather. (Black kid skin parts are not visually affected by the alcohol, and the above procedure can still be used.) The preferred method for applying kid skin parts is dry. (no fluid!) If you feel you must use fluid, you should apply the Purell by brush to the back of the leather only, never to the camera surface. Use only a very small amount, and start by working the brush from the middle of the part outward to the edges, making sure that no Purell is allowed to soak into any cut edge. The small amount of fluid will allow a partial bond of the adhesive, and the leather will seem to "stick" somewhat. But it will still permit you to remove and re-set the part more easily, than if the back of it were completely dry. 

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