Burn Down Sam Browne

Preparing a brand new Sam Browne - how best

  • Burn it down yourself, then bull like a pair of shoes

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Burn it down yourself, apply beeswax, then bull like a pair of shoes

    Votes: 1 12.5%
  • Don't bother burning it down, just polish and bull like a pair of shoes

    Votes: 1 12.5%
  • Buy/beg/borrow/exchange a previously bulled up Sam Browne

    Votes: 1 12.5%
  • Offer local Guards unit tom a donation for Christmas to burn down and bull like a pair of shoes.

    Votes: 5 62.5%

  • Total voters

I've got a brand spanking new, stiff as a board Sam Browne, (with sticky labels on the back that say Don't Brush Polish. Do Not Apply Polish Until Natural Oils Have Been Removed With Soft Cloth - hahaha).

I read on Arrse you're supposed to "Burn Down" the Sam Browne, and then apply beeswax and then polish...

None of the posts seem to go into any detail about "Burning Down" so I was wondering if anyone could give me top tips on how to do this....or should I just get someone else, like The Butler, to do the whole thing? I read horror stories about belts shrinking and falling apart, but if it's possible then maybe I could do it myself....anyone got tips?

Move AWAY from the Sam Browne until you have spoken to either a Guardsman or an expert. I am neither!
I wouldn't bother doing it yourself, unless you've experience waxing kit. We learn the basics of waxing at HCMR, but then you develop your own way of doing things. Generally, we use a gas fuelled blow torch to apply the heat, but if you overdo it, you've knackered the leather. Just before I left, people were starting to use those electric wall paper strippers to apply the heat, they're a bit more forgiving because it's hot air as opposed to actual flame, that's melting the wax. Have a whirl on an old pair of shoes or boots before giving the Sam Browne a go.

Make sure you pack the items out tightly, with either shoe/boot trees or loads of newspaper, use some old string through the top eyelet, to make sure the footware keeps a decent shape, then take your beeswax and apply. You can hot wax or cold wax, I prefer cold waxing but each to their own. The difference being, cold waxing you rub the item all over with a block of wax until you've got decent coverage. Hot waxing, you use you heat source to melt the wax, which you either drip onto said item as it melts, or use the same rubbing technique as cold waxing, but directing your heat source at the wax and item. Either way, you're looking to get the item covered in wax.

Once you've got decent coverage, you need to start applying the heat, the trick is to keep the heat source moving and not leave it directed at one spot for too long. As you apply the heat, you'll see the wax start to melt, then it'll bubble. It's at the bubble stage, that the wax is going into the leather, once you've had the bubbling over all of the item, re-apply wax and repeat. There's no hard and fast rule about how many "layers" of wax, but, in the case of boots or shoes, you don't want too many layers as to make the shoe totally inflexible, ditto with a belt. If I was to put a number on how much wax, I would say about half a dozen layers should be about right, but no two pairs of shoes/boots are the same so be flexible.

Once you applied all the wax you think you'll need, run the item under a cold tap. You'll see the surface layer of wax go opaque, you'll need to remove this later. Once you've run one shoe/boot under the tap, put it to one side, then complete the whole waxing technique, on the other shoe/boot. Once you've done them both, it's best to leave them for a good couple of hours more before tidying up. To remove the excess surface wax, you'll need a polish tin lid and a bundle of nylons(old tights/stockings). Use the tin lid to scrape the surface wax away, use the nylons to smooth out any ridges caused by the lid, do this by rubbing fast enough to generate some heat, which'll smooth away the wax. This process is know colloquially as "tinning in" or "boning in".

You'll need an implement of some kind to get the wax out of the welts, we generally used an issue hoof pick, but a small flat point screwdriver would do. Once all the wax is away, and you've got a smooth surface, apply some shoe polish and give both shoes/boots a really good bollocking with the brushes, once you've done this, you're ready to start applying layers of polish. Everyone has there own way of doing things, I favoured this way, but there's no hard and fast rule. As long as you get enough wax in without damaging or shrinking the leather, and polish doesn't shatter when you put the item on, you've got it about right.
Sorry, should also have mentioned a waxing board to do belts. It's basically a length of wood that you lay your belt on, you tap a couple of tacking pins through stitching holes at either end of the leather, to help stop it shrinking along it's length.
If you're struggling to find anyone to do your belt, I have contacts in the Saddlers Shop at Knightsbridge, if you can get the gear to London, they'll oblige for a fee.

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