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Reproofing your Oil Skin

25 683 views | 4 Sep. 2017

How to reproof your

How to reproof your R.M.Williams Oil Skin.

Junard Burigsay

Just bought a second hand oilskin jacket, can i wash it with detergent , just to be sure its clean

Archie j

One day *


Got a good oil skin as a gift. Thankful for this. Lot of knowledge here. Like to make that coat an heirloom.


Can I use this on a Barbour jacket?

Karen Mitchell

My partner recently passed away and I have a 3 oilskin garments which I'm selling. Wondering if i should reproof them first. Should I reproof, or allow the buyer to do it? hmmm

Oiled skin

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Oil Cloth - Waterproof Coverings for Your Campsite

639 802 views | 30 Jul. 2018

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Did they not use waxes yet?

Wending Wind

would calcium carbonate not alkalise the mixture?

Lee Pinkerson

I imagine using chalk instead of iron oxide would more neutralize the acidity

Lynne Clark

would washing the fabric, which shrinks the fabric and thus tightens the weave, have helped? And possibly the need for so much pigment? Also, you didn't say how much pigment you used.

Timothy Swag

With that lean-to, is it really safe to have it up against a tree like that in rainy weather? A lightning strike could set it on fire and/or kill you outright if you are near the tree.


There are several videos and instructions on this and not one mentions how waterproof it is and how practical it is to use. Very frustrating.

jimmy HVY

During the great depression , there was a tent city near here , in winter time people would paint Tar on the cloth tents to seal out the cold winds, it worked , but was a fire hazard .


Can you use ashes to die it black? Also is there a way to make it fire retardant or flame resistant? Why do some put wax on it afterwards? Sorry for all the questions, I'm very interested. Thank you.

Barna Stil

Does the oil dry? Or does it maintain a greasy feel?


Yellow ochre can cause allergic reactions--someone in my family reacts to it. So if you're doing this, you might want to spot test your pigment!

Lynne Clark

I also think you should have nailed the cloth down on all 4 sides. It would have prevented you from having to hold it onto the frame.

randal mroczka

In mark bakers book "A pilgrims journey" he uses ph test strips to check the blo acidity,you can either add some arm and hammer baking soda to reduce the acidity,add a small piece of limestone and wait till it stops bubbling,or add potash or soda ash (can't remember which)!


So essentially I take oil paint, thin it down with mineral spirits until it's almost like water, paint a cotton bedsheet with it and I'll have oilcloth. Nice to know.


I wonder if I can use used motor oil to make oil cloth

Michael Hudecek


zxum wmki

Amazing!! I wonder if it still remains a breathable fabric after the paint?
And I'm curious to know what is the per surface area before and after the paint


Just the UV light might make the difference. But you should ask someone who has mor echemistry knowledge.

Ron Price

Thay used bear grease and red suger for red paint some flowers or roots for other colors

Doc Brown

These vids always remind me of field trips in school in the 70s, I'm 57 currently(body says older), anyway trips in northern NJ which had a lotta 18th century traffic. My late mother always pushed us to learn 3 new things every day, your ch helps make that possible daily to weekly, keep up the good work. Knowing where we have been helps understand where we are now.

August Wogsland

this is so cool!! I have always wondered how oil cloth worked and what it was. Now, I wish I had a backyard, so I could make some of my own.

Austin Wood

I wonder if the acidity is a reason why tarred canvas became so popular later on

Steven Mitchell

Oil cloth was also used as for windows when glass was unavailable/too expensive as some light could penetrate but rain, snow, etc. was kept out.

Fred Dougly

Can you guys just make a textbook already with all practical knowledge lol very helpful, thanks! Maybe a textbook would defeat the whole purpose of the history you are trying to teach....it's only magic if you don't know the trick!

Bill McCaffrey

Was there any mention of using beeswax mixed with oil? I make a beeswax neatsfoot oil mixture for finishing knife sheaths.

Bill McCaffrey

Fun episode. Don't confuse drying and curing. The fabric may feel dry as a skin forms over the oil, but because the oil is applied fairly thick, it will take some time to cure. Oils are actually best when applied in very thin coats and built up slowly. I would suggest running water over both sides to dilute any acidity.


I have never been able to get linseed oil to dry enough to be useful, regardless of use.

Benjamin Smith

This is literally just paint. Modern red paint has this exact recipe as well as 18th century paint. Why do they call it oil cloth instead of painted cloth

Dolores J. Nurss

Could you use ash for the pigment, and thereby neutralize the acid?

Robert Golden

All they had to do back then was go on line and order some Flex Seal.

Dan Mecklenburg

Would adding a little baking soda to the 'paint' reduce the acidity?

Harry Roger

The oilskin I see today has wax in it as well.

Random Acts of Kindness

wouldnt it be possible to mix some baking soda into the mixture to make it more alkaline?

James Sunderland

The iron oxide is known as rouge(rūj) which was used used for a lot of things, including makeup.


I always wonder how people came up with this stuff. Who thought ‘today I’m gonna boil some linseed oil and see what i can put it on’

Whiterun Steward

I wonder if you can add a base to the paint, or put another coat made from a more basic paint before the first coat dries, and the fabric last longer.

Richard Stein

Brave man painting like that in white trousers...

Pura vida

Great video✨thanks

Tony Franks

Is this real linen, or a cotton fabric?


Where are natural sources of lead litharge?

AD Ben

Use what artists use. Apply 2-3 layers of gesso.

Modern day canvases use an acrylic base, but search for the traditional method used for hundred of years. It had a rabbit skin glue, and then 2-3 layers of gesso. The oil paint can now be safely applied.

Jedi Lion

Would it be a bad idea to try this on a canvas “Montana Tent” that is being occupied, during october November, just before the rains in Oregon? I do have a cylinder wood stove which could help it dry. But I worry about the rains coming and it taking forever. and the smell...

Wild Cattle

Is it safe to wear the canvas as a blanket in case of rain?

Robert Denton

Okay, so it is not fire-resistant. Try mixing hydraulic oil (this definitely does not burn)with the linseed oil and the colouring. In the French alps, farmers fireproof their original wooden chalets with hydraulic oil.


It's funny - or not, the old tried and true recipes usually had one or two poisonous ingredients in them.

Theresa Finn

Better than plastic tarps.

Bobby Hill

Might even use catch up you can get the catch-up from Amazon

Cipher Code

I wonder if a painter's drop cloth would be suitable for this?

Rock Helmer

Dropped a roach and almost burned my nuts off

Crap Phone

How did they make Lindseed oil? And turpentine?

John Kay

How long does oil cloth last in the elements?

Liberated Amon

Does baking soda reduce the acid?


could they not have just waxed their tarps. How common was beeswax back in the 18th century

Valerie L

Everytime I watch you do a project, I want to run out and get the supplies and do it! Can I apply it to women's caps? LOL

Carol Martin

What about the linen fraying? Have you seen it as a problem? Maybe the edges should be stitched. Blanket stitching was a period thing, wasn't it?

Sharon Sharon

It's perfect for your nutmeg cartel shipments....so it will get to the dealers and, eventually, the streets as a dry powder...????

Lawrence Ferguson

You get one gallon of duck out per slow rotisserie duck when collect the grease from the meat. To make it less oily to eat for duck. Then pine sap was added to it as it cooled. To make a paste u can wash soak fabric in then rap around a tree to dry and peel off when dry 3 gallons takes 4 birds. For a coat. 2 birds for moccasins 8 birds for a tent canvas

Tillus Greenbottle

If its whaterprooft, is it airprooft as well.
Cause my thoght was that you could use it as kinde of a lether Substitut in a bellow..... right?

Sarah Strong

Thankyou for showing us.

hysterical Laughter

Could you use charcoal?

Fake Name

Still a better art than a Rothko!

Kelsey S

I got an ad for a tarp under this lol


Can't you just use oil paint

Lawrence Ferguson

The grease from duck meat was used as a waterproofer

Rebecca Hewett

Modern boiled linseed oil heats as it dries. It's considered a potential fire hazard (many a garage/workshop fires started with a wadded linseed oil soaked rag).
By spreading it out to dry, you're allowing for heat dissipation. If you folded the other piece before the linseed had cured, you have heat damage -not acid damage.


after it dries coudlnt you wet it down with a solution of baking soda and water to neutralize the acid


I love that he wears white pants in the woods, to paint a tarp brown.


Thank you so much for all your hard work. Very enjoyable and interesting.
Oilcloth can be waxed as a finish coat.


Still easily the best on Youtube. Thank you.

Philip Patrick

I have read that smoke was used to make canvas water-resistant and used in portable shelters. Is this true, and if so can you show an example in an episode? Thank you. I love you show.

Wild Cattle

I was too lazy to find ironoxide, I used your method of stretching it and painting. I melted candle was and stretched out my cloth and painted it

Kim Pike

"The fabric was first stretched on a tenter frame and sized with animal gelatine. The oil was then applied and allowed to cure between coats. As the cure relies on oxidation by the air, thin coats and long cure times between are required.[1][2]

Overlaps between sheets of fresh oilcloth would amalgamate naturally when pressed together. This tendency also led to the cloth sticking together when folded. The cloth was waxed or dusted with pumice to reduce sticking when folding was required."

1 Knight, William A.; Mende, William R. (2000). Staining and Finishing for Muzzleloading Gun Builders. privately published. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30.
2 "Recreating old techniques for boiled linseed oil and oilcloth". 2003.

Gabe Hicks

Where can you buy large peices of linnen to make into a big tent?

Vincent Von Dudler

Makes waterproof cloth
Does not demonstrate cloth's waterproof quality

Dd Smile

Can you add a experiment adding a neutralizer to your paint to decrease or neutralize the acid ?

Dark Meta

me: Super excited to make one of these!
also me: gets to walmart..
purchase $8 Tarp instead ?

Alice Jenkins

if the issue is acidity, simply adding a splash of soaked woodash concetrate (lye) would fix it rapidly. While i suppose the could have been overlooked. The prevalence of woodash in historical settings and its wide spread use suggests it being overlooked is rather small, leading me to think the variable is something other than acidity.


If the acidity is so noticeably destructive I can imagine that people would start mixing pot ash into their paints


Just buy a Tent or Pancho..??‍♂️


What about adding bees wax to the mix?


For some reason, I think you are a genius.


Linen and Linseed are from Flax, and evidently was the main source of plant-based cloth until cotton overtook it in the 19th century.
Would love to see Flax agriculture from the 18th century. Like, what the heck is retting? etc.


Quick update - We shot this video a little over a week ago and the cloth has completely dried and is ready to be used!

G Rosebud

Will it truly stay water proof if I camp using this for my tent in a rain/snow storm?

Dd Smile

In small pieces it could be useful as a fire starter


What of adding something to lower acid level?


I love how up until around 50 years ago, humans just constantly exposed themselves to lead whether it be in clothing, utensils, shelter, or medication.


I recently soaked a coat in boiled linseed oil, wax, and turpentine and it smells so bad it cannot come inside the house. Even after a month and serving time on a scarecrow, it smells of the linseed oil. I imagine it being a historic smell, but my wife doesn't like it, LOL.

supervivencia survival hawk

Hello, could you put the ingredients and quantities in the comment? and subtitle your videos to Spanish? thanks.

David Lyle

OK I think that in the original product the lead acted as a catalyst to induce polymerization. Actually I think that your going to get a similar result with the iron oxide just not quite as quickly. It's possible that may be why you are getting the thickening of the oil while your painting it on.

I'm actually thinking that you might get better results by painting the fabric with a water mixture of the iron oxide, letting it dry and then painting on the Linseed oil. That way the polymerization can work with you rather than against you.

Ultimately though over time this lead to the development of actual vulcanizing of the oils with sulfur. That's more or less the result that your getting with the slow drying. It's also possible that I think to get the most authentic result by using an extremely not authentic sounding method. Namely I think that an ozone generator would give you the oxygen crosslinking without much waiting around.

It's of course possible that I may be taking things a bit too far.


I wonder if making the cloth basic before introducing it to the acidic paint would help neutralize the reaction without ruining the coating. Maybe soaking the cloth in a potash solution and drying it before stretching it?

Elijah James Perez

What would be a substitute to boiled linseed oil? I haven't found any here in the Philippines

Browneyed Otter

How is it now?

Francis Marcoux

The same as oil painting

Lawrence Ferguson

Duck oil was rotisserie duck over a open fire so the grease was collected in a pot then used to waterproof leather and fabric and used to make a glycerin soap.

Matt the Screamer

You are an absolute YouTube legend, thanks for the great content over the years

Kan Meridoc

would there be any reason to avoid using ground charcoal or ash from a fire as the colorant?

Chris Tracy

I know this is an older video. I have directed someone here to watch it so I thought I'd watch again which raised some questions/suggestions to maybe try.
Couldn't you add baking soda to lower the acidity?
What about adding some borax as well as it is used as a fire retardant?
You mention how chalk could be used, what about Hydrated/Slaked Lime like what is used in whitewash paint? Surely that would lower the acidity too?
If I had the means to try these ideas I would. Future video maybe comparing different compositions?

myfa kename

This is the stuff I wish history channel did.

Fred Lamb

Seems to me it would burn very easily. Iron oxide is an oxidizer, sometimes used in rocket fuel.

Suspicious Tumbleweed

Amazing! As a backpacker I'm so spoiled by my modern polyester and synthetic wool. Also linseed oil is pretty fascinating, it's what linoleum is made of.