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SHOP EARLY TO RECEIVE BEFORE HOLIDAYS
SHOP EARLY TO RECEIVE BEFORE HOLIDAYS

Leather Buying Guide

Purchasing Leather

We purchase leather from tanneries all over the world. In most cases, we sell it in the exact form we receive from the tannery. The leather industry has general terms applied to the various ways that leather is sold by, such as side, hide, skin, split, belly, etc.  As the size of each side, hide, skin, split or belly varies, the size the product you receive may vary.

We price leather two ways:

  1. Most of our leathers are priced by the each and you are charged one price regardless of size.
  2. Occasionally we offer leather that is priced by the square foot (sq. ft.) or meter and sold in the exact form we receive from the tannery (side, hide, skin, split, belly, etc). When you place an order for products priced by the sq. ft. or meter, you will be given a cost approximation in your shopping cart. After your order has been picked, this cost approximation will be adjusted to reflect the actual price based on the size of the piece as measured and marked by the tannery. Your final charge will be for the actual size of the product that is shipped to you.

Colors

We have done our best to display as accurately as possible the colors of the products shown on the Site.

However:

  1. because the colors you see will depend on your monitor, we cannot guarantee that your monitor's display of any color will be accurate.
  2. colors may vary due to differences in dye lots. Always order extra if color consistency is critical to your project.

Leather Hide Parts

The images below shows how hides are sub-divided into different cuts.
Leather Hide Parts and Thickness Conversion Chart

Weight/Thickness

Leather is usually measured in terms of ounces. One ounce equals 1/64th of an inch thickness. Thus, a weight of 7 to 8 oz. means the leather is 7/64th to 8/64th of an inch thickness. In an effort to make leather a uniform thickness, hides are run through a splitting machine. However, each animal is different and there is always a slight thickness variation throughout the hide. This is why leathers are usually shown with a range of thickness, such as, 4 to 5 oz., 6 to 7 oz., etc.

Common Terminology

Purchasing leather is not a difficult task. We offer a variety of leathers that will work well for whatever leather project you have in mind. Below you will find a list of commonly used leather terms that describe the various leathers we sell.

Aniline Dyed
Leather that is dyed all the way through with a transparent dye. Because the finish is transparent and shows the natural markings of the leather, only the best quality hides can be used.
Armor Leather
Heavy veg-tan leather used for shoe soles and for protective armor by historical re-enactors.
Bark Tanned
Also known as vegetable tanned. Leather tanned by the tannins extracted from the bark of trees.
Belly Cut (snake)
Snakeskins that are cut on the underneath so the tanned skin shows the snake’s normally visible pattern.
Chrome Free
Also known as Aldehydetanned leather, this is the leather that most tanners refer to as wet-white leather due to its pale cream or white color. Used in infant’s shoes and automobiles.
Chrome Tanned
This process uses soluble chromium salts, primarily chromium sulfate, to tan leather. Most commonly used for garments, footwear and upholstery.
Crust
Leather that has been tanned, dyed and dried, but not finished.
Distressed
Leather that is aniline dyed with one color over another (usually darker over lighter) so as to create rich highlights and an artificial aged appearance. This finishing process is intended to emphasize the characteristics of the hide such as scars, scratches and wrinkles. Also called “antiqued leather”.
Drum Dyed
The process of coloring leather by tumbling it in a rotating drum immersed in dye to allow maximum dye penetration.
Embossed Leather
Leather that has been “stamped” with a design or artificial texture under very high pressure. Our embossed leathers have textures of ostrich and gator.
Flesh Side
The underside of the animal’s hide. When looking at a piece of veg-tanned tooling leather, this will be the rough side.
Full Grain
Leather which has not been altered beyond hair removal. It is the most genuine of leathers, retaining all of the hide’s original texture and markings. The hide’s best, strongest and most durable layer.
Good Hand
A soft, supple leather that feels good to the hand.
Grain Side
This is the hide’s surface that had the hair of the animal. The grain side is used for leather carving and stamping by leathercrafters.
Hair Cell Grain
Noticeable appearance of where the hair pores were on the leather.
Kidskin
Soft leather made from the skin of a young goat.
Latigo
Cowhide leather tanned for outdoor use. Utilized for cinches, ties, and other saddlery work and for army accoutrements.
Milled
During the tanning process, the leather is tumbled in a large drum shaped container to make it softer.
Nubuck
Leather buffed on the grain side to give a velvety surface.
Oil Tanned
Leather that is tanned using oils to create a very soft, pliable finish.
Patina
The aura or luster that develops in leather as it ages with use.
Pebble Grain
A cosmetic character resembling small pebbles on the leather’s top side.
Printed Leather
Leather that has been “stamped” with a design or artificial texture under very high pressure.
Pull-Up Finish
Describes the behavior of leather that has been treated with oils, waxes and dyes in such a way that when pulled or stretched, the finish becomes lighter in the those areas. Considered a mark of high quality.
Rawhide
Hides that have only been dehaired and cured but not tanned.
Semi-Aniline
Aniline leather that has a matching pigment layer added to even out the color and add protection.
Shearling
A sheepskin or lambskin that has gone through a limited shearing process to obtain a uniform depth of the wool fibers. They can be tanned with either a veg-tan method, normally used for saddles and outdoor gear, or with a chrome method, normally used for garments.
Side
Leather tanned from one half, or “side” of a full hide.
Skirting
Sides from cattle that are left in their heaviest form for use with saddle making and re-enactment armor.
Splits
Leather made from the lower (inner or flesh side) layers of a hide that have been split away from the upper, or grain layers. Split leather is not as durable as full grain leather and is normally used as suede.
Suede
Leather that has been buffed and brushed for a more attractive surface.
Temper
A characteristic of leathers defined by pliability/softness.
Tooling Calf
Normally, a very lightweight veg-tanned leather with a very clean appearance.
Top Grain
Usually refers to a process of sanding away the natural grain from a leather’s top surface. Imitation grain gets stamped into the leather for a more uniform look.
Veg-Tanned
A method of hide tanning which utilizes materials from organic materials such as bark instead of the traditional chemicals. This is the method utilized when tanning tooling leathers.
Veg-Splits
Veg-tanned leather that has been split with both sides having a fleshy feel. Cannot be tooled.
Waxy Hand
An upholstery or handbag leather that has a waxy feel and look to it.
Weight
A term which describes the thickness of leather in ounces. One ounce equals 1/64th (0.4 mm) of an inch in thickness. See the chart below.

Conversion from Yardage to Sq. Ft.

As mentioned above, leather is generally measured in square feet (sq. ft.), but some patterns call for a certain number of yards.

Use the examples below as guidelines to convert the yards into sq. ft.:
  • The pattern calls for 3 yards of 36" fabric.
    Use a conversion factor of 9:
    3 x 9 = 27
    Add 20% 6
    Total...33 sq. ft. needed.
  • The pattern calls for 3 yards of 45" fabric.
    Use a conversion factor of 11:
    3 x 11 = 33
    Add 20% 7
    Total....40 sq. ft. needed.
  • The pattern calls for 3 yards of 54" fabric.
    Use a conversion factor of 13:
    3 x 13 = 39
    Add 20% 8
    Total....47 sq. ft. needed.

Adding the 20% allows some extra to make up for imperfections, holes or any loss in cutting.