Leather Terminology

Leather Terminology

Welcome to our leather glossary. The following is a list of terms sometimes used when talking about leather!


Altered Leather


Leather that has had the original surface removed (usually due to imperfections on the original surface) and a grain embossed into the leather. This is also referred to as corrected leather.

aniline dyed

leather that has been through-dyed by immersion in a dye bath and has not received any coating of pigmented finish.

Antique Grain


A surface pattern of markings or creases, usually irregular, in which the hollows are often given a contrasting colour to produce a two-tone or two-colour effect. The creases are produced by embossing, boarding or other similar means.

aniline stained

leather that has been stained by brushing, padding or spraying and has not received any coating of pigmented finish.

Back:


(1) The main portion of a hide, obtained by cutting off the two bellies.

(2) Leather made from (1) . Bark Tanned Leather vegetable tanned, mainly by means of the tannins contained in the barks of trees.

A surface pattern of markings or creases, usually irregular, in which the hollows are often given a contrasting colour to produce a two-tone or two-colour effect. The creases are produced by embossing, boarding or other similar means.

Bark Tanned


Leather that is vegetable tanned, mainly by means of tannin contained in the barks of trees.

Blues, in the


The state of hides which have been tanned once using chromium salts. This results in hides that are light blue in color.

Bovine


An animal belonging to the cattle or ox family

Breathability


An important characteristic of full-grain leather due to its intact grain and pore structure. This means that the leather adjusts to temperature and wicks away moisture and body heat, making it extremely comfortable.

Brush Coloring


The process of applying dyestuff to the leather by means of a brush. This is a cosmetic process. Dyes are not saturated into the hide.

Buffed Leather


Leather from which the top surface grain has been removed by abrasive or a bladed cylinder; or less generally by hand. In the case of upholstery leather the buffing process is invariably carried out by machine though sometimes incorrectly described as hand buffed.

belly

leather made from that part of the hide covering the underside and the upper part of the legs of the animal..

bend

half a cattle hide butt, obtained by dividing it along the line of the backbone.

boarded leather

leather that has been softened and the surface of which has been lightly creased by folding grain to grain and then working the fold across the leather to and fro by hand boarding or by means of a boarding machine.

box calf

full chrome tanned calf leather, black or colored, smooth or boarded.

bridle leather

strong, flexible type of harness leather of reasonably uniform thickness with a plain finish and a close shaved flesh. made from ox or cow hide, vegetable tanned and curried.

buffed leather

leather from which the top surface of the grain has been removed by an abrasive or bladed cylinder or, less generally, by hand. in the case of upholstery leather the buffing process is invariable carried out by machine though it is sometimes incorrectly described as hand buffed. see corrected grain.


Parts of a cattle hide

  • a cheek
  • b face
  • c shoulder
  • d fore shank
  • e belly
  • f bend
  • g butt
  • h belly middle
  • i hind shank

butt


That part of the hide left after the bellies and shoulder have been removed.

butt split


the under layer split from the butt of a cattle hide.

calf


the skin of a young or immature bovine animal not exceeding a certain weight. in italy, about 14 kilos, salted weight.

chrome re-tan


leather which has been first chrome tanned throughout its thickness and subsequently further treated or tanned with vegetable and/or synthetic tanning agents and/or resin filling materials, these retaining agents penetrating notably, but not necessarily completely, into the interior.

chrome tanned


leather tanned either solely with chromium salts or with chromium salts together with quite small amounts of some other tanning agent used merely to assist the chrome-tanning process, and not in sufficient amount to alter the essential chrome tanned character of the leather.

combination tanned


leather tanned by two or more tanning agents, e.g. chrome, followed by vegetable (chrome retan), vegetable, followed by chrome (semi-chrome), formaldehyde, followed by oil (combination oil).

cordovan


leather made from the shell of a horse butt, viz. from a kidney-shaped, very compact layer occurring in the butt of equine animals only, and isolated by removing the skin layer above and below it. it is vegetable tanned and curried.

corrected grain leather


leather from which the grain layer has been partially removed by buffing to a depth governed by the condition of the raw material and upon which a new surface has been built by various finishes. see buffed leather.

cow hide


a.) the outer covering of a mature bovine animal. b.) leather made from un-split cow hide or its grain split. in some countries the term is also loosely applied to similar leather from the hide of any bovine animal. the term is not to be applied to leather from the flesh split.

crock


particulate matter, usually colored, which can be removed from leather by dry rubbing.

crushed patent


soft patent leather with a creased or crumpled appearance produced mechanically after the patent finish has been applied and dried.

crust leather


leather which, after tanning, has not been further processed but has been merely dried out.

culatta


the rear part of a bovine hide, comprising the butt, the belly middles and the hind shanks.

curried leather


leather usually vegetable tanned which has been subject to the currying process, i.e. a series of dressing and finishing processes applied to leather after tanning in course of which appropriate amounts of oils and greases are incorporated in the leather to give it increased tensile strength, flexibility and water-resisting properties.

drawn grain


an unwanted shrunken grain appearance on leathers intended to have a smooth grain or on the raw skin.

h4>Degrained Leather

Leather from which the grain has been removed after tanning, by splitting, abrading or other process.

Dressing


Term used to describe the post-tanning processes which influences the color and handle of the leather. This is done prior to the surface coating and finishing process.

Drum Dyeing


The application of dyestuffs to leather through the immersion of the leather in a drum that is tumbled. This process allows full dye penetration into the fiber.

embossed leather


leather embossed or printed with a raised pattern either imitating or resembling the grain pattern of some animal, or being quite unrelated to a natural grain pattern.

finish


a.) the final process or processes in the manufacture of dressed leather. b.) the surface coating applied to leather.

front


the fore part of a raw cattle or horse hide. when applied to a cattle hide it consists of the shoulders and fore shanks.

Flesh Split


(1) The inner or under layer of a hide or skin separated from it by the splitting machine.

(2) Leather made from (1) .

Fat Wrinkle


Wrinkles in the grain of leather caused by fat deposits in the animal. Fat wrinkles are not visible in imitation or inferior leathers.

Full Grain


Leather bearing the original grain surface as exposed by removal of the hair, but with none of the surface removed by buffering or splitting. This grain is what gives each type of leather its distinctive appearance and style.

Fluffed Leather


Leather from which the grain layer has been partially or completely removed as a result of buffing. The aim being to improve the uniformity of the grain appearance.

Full Chrome (Tanned)


Leather tanned solely with one agent, e.g. full chrome in contrast to semi-chrome, and full oil in contrast to combination oil.

grain


the pattern, characterized by the pores and peculiar to the animal concerned, visible on the outer surface of a hide or skin after the hair or wool has been removed.

grain leather


leather which has the grain layer substantially intact and is finished on the grain side.

Glazed Finish


A glossy, smooth, sheen imparted to leather by polishing with a glass or steel rollers.

Grain


The pattern characterized by the pores, cells, wrinkles and other characteristics which constitute the natural texture of leather.

Grain Character


The natural markings on the surface of the leather.

Grain Layer


The portion of a hide or skin extending from the surface exposed by removal of hair or wool.

Grain Sueded


A buffing process to raise the fibers on the grain side of a hide to produce a velvet-like effect. This is also known as Nubuck leather.

Hand


An industry term used to describe the feel and suppleness of a fabric or leather.

Hand Antiqued


A two-toned aged/antique appearance created either by rubbing off a dark contrast coat to reveal a lighter base shade; or by rubbing in dyes or pigments into a natural dyed leather. Hand antiqued finishes are used mainly for more traditional furniture.

Hide


The outer covering of a mature or fully grown large mammal.

Hide Split


Any leather made from cutting/slicing a hide horizontally.

harness leather


a strong, flexible, curried, cattle hide, grain leather with a plain finish, usually having a thickness of 4 to 6 mm.

hide


leathers made from the outer covering of a mature or fully-grown animal of the larger kind which have not been split, or from the grain split; when used in this way the name of the animal or the type of leather may be added, e.g. cow hide or ox hide, bag hide or case hide.

impregnated leather


leather, which by means of the addition of materials such as grease, wax and/or impregnating resins, etc., has been improved in certain of its properties without thereby losing its typical leather characteristics.

insole leather


hide leather, including flexible splits, vegetable or combination tanned, in sides, bends, shoulders and bellies, suitable for the inner soles of footwear.

latigo leather


n. american term for cattle hide leather tanned with a combination of alum and gambier, used for cinches, ties, saddle strings and other saddlery work and for army accoutrements.

Metalized Leather


Leather given a metallic luster by application of metallic foils or powders.

Matte finish


A flat or dull finish

Morocco


(1) Vegetable tanned goat skin leather with characteristic grain pattern developed naturally or by hand boarding or graining only. The commonest and most characteristic grain is hard grain.

(2) By long usage, especially in the fancy goods trade. Goatskin of any vegetable tannage that has been hand boarded in the damp condition, but in the strict sense it should be limited to goatskin tanned exclusively with sumac.

Milling


A process which produces suppleness in hides by rotating them in tanning drums.

Mineral Tanned


Leather that has been tanned with mineral salts such as aluminum, chromium or zirconium salts.

nappa


soft, full grain gloving or clothing leather made from un-split sheep, lamb, goat or kid skins. it is usually tanned with alum and chromium salts and dyed throughout its substance.

nubuck


cattle hide leather, buffed on the grain side to give a velvety surface; white or colored.

Oak Tannage (Oak Bark Tanned)


Originally the tannage of leather was almost entirely with oak bark. Later the term applied to tannage with a blend containing oak tannin. Now, it is loosely applied to any tannage of heavy leather with vegetable extracts.

Oil Tanned


Leather tanned with oil. Primarily used on sheepskin to produce chamois leather.

(1) Vegetable tanned goat skin leather with characteristic grain pattern developed naturally or by hand boarding or graining only. The commonest and most characteristic grain is hard grain.

(2) By long usage, especially in the fancy goods trade. Goatskin of any vegetable tannage that has been hand boarded in the damp condition, but in the strict sense it should be limited to goatskin tanned exclusively with sumac.

patent leather


leather with a lustrous mirror-like surface, built up by the application of one or more coats of daubs, varnishes or lacquers pigmented or non-pigmented, based on linseed oil, nitrocellulose, polyurethane and/or other synthetic resins.

pearlised leather


colored leather with a pearl-like luster.

Print


A patterned design applied to the grain surface of the leather.

protected leather


leather in which certain special chemicals have been incorporated to render it less liable to deteriorate through exposure to polluted atmospheres.

retanned


leather which has been subjected to an additional tannage with similar or other tanning materials.

Rawhide


Partially or completely untanned leather.

Rough Tanned Leather


Leather, which after tanning, has not been further processed but has merely been dried out. The term rough tanned is chiefly used in connection with vegetable tanned hide leathers. The two- tone effect with a mottled appearance that adds depth and character to the leather created two ways: by blending similar colors during the dyeing process or by a mechanical process during finishing.

Sauvage


The two- tone effect with a mottled appearance that adds depth and character to the leather created two ways: by blending similar colors during the dyeing process or by a mechanical process during finishing.

semi-aniline finished


leather which has been aniline dyed or stained, incorporating a small quantity of pigment, not so much as to conceal the natural characteristics of the hide.

shoulder


leather made from the fore part of a cattle hide covering the shoulders and the neck of the animal, with or without the head. a squared shoulder is obtained by cutting off the head.

shrunk(en) grain


leather specially tanned so as to shrink the grain layer and having a grain surface of uneven folds and valleys.

side


half of a whole hide with offal (head, shoulder and belly) attached, obtained by dividing it along the line of the backbone.

side leather


shoe upper leather made from cattle hide sides.

skin


a general term for the outer covering of an animal.

Skiver


A thin, soft leather made of the grain side of a split sheep or goatskin.

sole leather bend


leather made from the bend region of cattle hide, tanned and finished to be suitable for the outer soles of footwear.

split


if a hide or skin is split over its whole area into several layers, this process is termed splitting. the layers thus obtained are termed grain split (outer split).

suede


a generic term for leathers whose wearing surface has been finished to have a velvet-like nap.

suede calf


calf skin leather finished with a velvet-like nap on the flesh side.

Strap Leather


Heavyweight, vegetable- tanned leather usually for industrial use.

the final coating of a finish to confer special properties such as gloss, color level, fastness to wet and staining.

synthetic tanned


tanned with synthetic organic agents.

tanning


the processing of perishable raw hides and skins by the use of tanning materials into the permanent and imputrescible form of leather.

Tipped Leather


Leather which has a contrast color coat (either lighter or darker than the base shade) applied by a roller to the tips of an embossed grain.

Top Grain


An overused term commonly used to refer to corrected grain leather.

Trim


The removal of the outer edges of the hide not suitable for making leather.

Top Finish


the final coating of a finish to confer special properties such as gloss, color level, fastness to wet and staining.

vegetable tanned


leathers tanned exclusively with vegetable tanning agents or with such materials together with small amounts of other agents used merely to assist the tanning process or to improve or modify the leather, and not in sufficient amounts to alter notably the essential vegetable character of the leather.

waterproof leather


water-resistant leather which is thoroughly impervious to the penetration of water.

water-resistant (repellent) leather


leather resistant (repellent) to the penetration of water, usually chrome tanned or combination tanned, originally heavily greased, but other water-resisting (repelling) agents may be used.

wet blue leather


leather which after chrome tanning has not been further processed and is sold in the wet condition.

Yield


The amount of useable area after all waste and imperfections have been discarded..