Harry Weaver instilled early on to his employees the importance of wetting leather before bending or folding it to apply hardware and to sew the lap. When you fold veg tanned leather, all the leather’s intertwined fibers bend in an unnatural way that puts tremendous pressure on the top grain potentially causing cracking or separating. The area most susceptible to this is where the grain is tightest, the butt area of the side. Wetting relaxes these tighter fibers enabling you to bend the leather for a flatter position that’s conducive to sewing closer to the hardware.
For most applications, Harry would place 3″-4″ of the ends of his straps in water for five seconds and then fold the straps where they would be folded over the hardware. Before the leather dried completely, he would sew the laps. While the top grain on leather tools, carves and embosses exceptionally well, it is usually about 1 oz. thick and folding it repeatedly may cause it to separate or crack, making wetting a good preventative step.
Harry used this method on all kinds of leather including strap, skirting, bridle, latigo and harness leathers. He rarely experienced problems with his leather cracking and his laps were always tighter and stitched up farther than most. We encourage you to try this method for yourself and experience the difference it makes.