Handyman’s Corner: Better Than Botox

Skin wrinkled, cracking, dried out, sagging or scaly? If the skin is on one of your cameras I can help. (Anywhere else try the Yellow Pages; Cosmetic Surgeons are the best bet.)

Older cameras sometimes show the ravages of time when their covering fails. Covering material has ranged from the inexpensive embossed paper, to exotic reptile leather, and everything in between. No matter what it is, age extracts a toll. The question is then to repair, restore, or to re-cover?

Real leather lends itself to restoration rather well. Saddle soap, neatsfoot oil, and other commercial preparations often do an excellent job. Minor repairs are often possible, IF, and this is a big if, matching material can be found. Sources to be considered include old wallets, pocketbooks, leather book coverings, old gloves, and anything else your imagination can come up with.

Artificial leather normally doesn’t restore well, but vinyl repair kits sold in auto supply houses can go a long way if you are willing to experiment. These kits can provide a number of surface types and also can be colored to taste.

Finally, embossed paper can be improvised sometimes, but again, a lot of trial and error work is involved and in many cases the cameras involved aren’t worth the effort required. (But remember, a challenge keeps the mind working overtime.)

Attempting to re-cover a camera is usually beyond the average person’s abilities. If you want to try, I suggest that you start with a very simple body that has panels that are square or rectangular in shape. A pattern is helpful as it prepares you for making templates that are more complex if you continue on to more advanced projects.

Finally, there are several companies that make covering kits for any number of cameras. In some cases the coverings are still available from manufacturers or other parts sources. A company that I have experience with is Leathercrafters. Their products have been excellent and their instructions are also excellent. One source of these kits is Morgan Sparks of Burlington, VT. The photos of the Yashica, before and after, were made during a project of re-covering using one of their kits.

Speaking from experience, this type of project is very rewarding but also very time consuming and tests patience and skills considerably.