Leather trunks are often referred to as steamer trunks because they used to be used for steam boat voyages. Reconditioning the leather on a leather trunk is a simple process that anyone can do. Steamer trunks make wonderful accessories and tables for a travel-inspired decorating style. Restoring the leather will make the trunk usable once more, and also increases its value.
Pour a small amount of saddle soap on to a soft cloth. Work the cleaner and the cloth into the surface of the leather to remove all traces of oil, dirt and grease from the surface of the trunk. The older the trunk is, the longer this will take. Continue to add more cleaner, using several cloths, until the cloth comes away completely clean.
Apply a small amount of neetsfoot oil to a clean, soft cloth. Work the oil into the surface of the leather until the trunk won't absorb any more oil. The drier and older the trunk is, the more likely it is to accept large quantities of oil. Once you have applied the oil, wipe away any excess with a cloth. Allow the oil to soak into the leather for 24 hours.
Glue any loose pieces of leather back onto the trunk. Apply a small amount of hide glue to the trunk under the leather. Use weights to hold down the leather pieces while the glue dries. Only glue a few pieces of leather down at a time, working on one side at a time. You can turn each side face up during drying time, which makes it easier for the glue to stick to the surface of the trunk. Allow glue to dry for at least two hours before removing the weights.
Work some leather conditioner into the leather once all glue is dry. This will protect the surface of the leather from drying out in the future, and will also help protect the leather from moisture and stains. Condition the leather about twice a year to maintain its softness and flexibility.