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Leather Glossary

Leather Glossary

Altered Leather/Corrected Grain Leather that has had the original surface of the skin removed (usually due
to imperfections in the original surface) and a new grain embossed into
the leather. Commonly referred to as top grain. Lacking an intact full
grain surface. Usually pigmented. Most top grain leathers have altered
or corrected grain surfaces.
Aniline A colorless oily liquid made from coal tar used in making dyes and resins
in organic synthesis.
Aniline Dye Any dye produced synthetically from coal tar products.
Aniline Dyed Or Aniline Leather Leather that has been dyed in a dye bath with some level of dye
penetration.
Antique Distressed Grain Antique distressed leather, or leather grain, is any type of leather, which
has been treated to age the appearance of the material to give it an
antique or vintage look. This weathered look is often found to be
appealing to some customers instead of the leather looking shiny and
brand new.
Bark Tanned Leather that has been vegetable-tanned mainly by means of tannins from
the bark of trees.
Base Dyes Common (usually lower grade) dye colors used in custom colored leathers
that are quickly made. Hides are dyed in advance awaiting the spray
application of custom colors.
Belly Grain Belly grain refers to leather split from the part of the hide that covers the
underside of the animal.
Belting Leather Generally a heavy weight, full-grain leather, which was originally
manufactured to create pulley belts during the industrial revolution. The
unique tanning process makes belting leather one of the strongest and
stiffest leathers around.
Blue Split Blue split comes from the hide that has been split into several layers and
treated with chromium during the tanning process, which gives it a bluish
colour.
Boardy Leather Boardy is a term used to describe leather, which is stiff or not pliable.
Bonded Leather Bonded leather, otherwise known as reconstituted leather, is made from
leather fibres/scraps that have been glued together to create a leather
sheet.
Bovine An animal belonging to the cattle or ox family.
Breathability An important characteristic of a full grain leather. Due to its intact grain
and pore structure, full grain leather breathes. This means that the
leather adjusts to temperature and wicks away moisture and body heat,
making it very comfortable to sit on.
Brush Coloring The process of applying dyestuff to the leather by means of a brush. In
this cosmetic process dyes are not saturated into the hide.
Brushed Grain/Brushed Leather Two different ways to describe a leather/grain that has been gently
brushed to create a soft nap or fuzzy texture when making suede or
nubuck leather
Buffed Leather/Buffed Grain Leather that has been abraded; it is the process of buffing/sanding down
the top grain to smooth off imperfections.
Bycast Leather Bycast or "Bi-cast" leather is made with split leather backing and a
surface layer of polyurethane (PU), which is then embossed.
Calfskin Leather Taken from the skin of calves, calfskin leather has a fine grain and smooth
surface; the leather is also generally more lightweight and thinner than
cow's hide.
Cattle Hide A hide is animal skin which is treated for human use, for example, to
make leather. Cattle hide is the skin that comes from cattle/cows.
Centre Cut Suede A suede split, which is trimmed and bent around the edges, leaving the
best and most usable part, or the centre of the hide.
Chamois Leather Made from sheep hides or lambskin, chamois leather is usually tanned
with oils and is very soft and flexible.
Chrome Tannage/Chrome Tanned Leather tanned with chromium salts and/or chromium sulphates resulting
in soft, mellow hides receptive to excellent color variety.
Combination Tannage/Combination
Tanned
Used to describe leathers that have had more than one tanning agent to
treat them, for example, chromium and vegetable.
Cordovan Leather made from the tight, firm shell portion of horse butts. It has very
fine pores, it's durable, and has a characteristic finish.
Crock (Noun) The colouring matter that rubs off poorly dyed leather.
Crock (Verb) The rubbing off of colour on poorly dyed leather
Crockproof Leather, suede or fabric that has been treated so that colour or dye
doesn't rub off. Regarding suede, this term describes treatment to
prevent shredding or the rubbing off of fibres.
Crust Leather that has been tanned but hasn't been finished; such leathers are
described as being "in the crust".
Degrained Leather Leather that has had its grain removed after tanning (via sanding,
splitting, abrasion, etc. ) is known as 'degrained leather'.
Double Butt Suede Often used as another way of saying centre cut suede.
Drawn Grain Describes the shrunken or shrivelled surface condition of leather due to
the poor or improper handling of hides during the tanning process.
Drum Dyeing The application of dyestuffs to leather by the immersion of the leather in
a drum that is tumbled. This process allows full dye penetration into the
fiber.
Embossed Leather Usually corrected grain, in which a pattern is applied by extreme pressure
in a press to give a unique design or imitation of full grain characteristics.
Sometimes leathers are embossed to make them appear to be another
leather, such as embossing an alligator pattern into cowhide.
Enhanced Full Grain Full grain leather, which has received minor surface alteration to improve
grain appearance.
Fat Wrinkle Marks or wrinkles that form in the grain due to fat deposits in the
animal's skin; they are sought after because they are not visible in
imitation or corrected grain leather.
Finish Generally defines a surface application on the leather to color, protect or
mask imperfections. More specifically, it refers to all processes
administered to leather after it has been tanned.
Full Grain Leather in which the grain layer or dermis has not been altered. The
grain layer gives each type of leather its distinctive appearance.
Full Hand This defines leather that is full bodied and robust. Also called round hand
or full round hand.
Glazed Finish The leather surface is polished to a high lustre using glass on steel rollers
under lots of pressure - similar to an aniline finish.
Glove Leather Soft leather, usually lambskin, which is used to make leather gloves
Grain (Leather) The outside of the hide or skin consisting of the pores, cells, wrinkles and
other characteristics which constitute the natural texture of the leather.
Grain Character The natural markings on the surface of the leather.
Grain Split The outer layer of the hide that has been split into multiple layers
Grain Sueded/Nubuck Also known as "snuffing", this is the process of abrading the grain side of
the hide to achieve a buffed or suede texture. A buffing process to raise
the fibers on the grain side of a hide or skin to produce a velvet-like
effect. This is also known as ‘Nubuck’ leather.
Grain, Embossed An artificial grain pressed into the surface of top grain leather from which
the original grain has been removed.
Hand A leather industry term used to describe the feel, i. e. suppleness or
fullness of upholstery leather.
Hand Antiqued Also known as "hand rubbing", this is the process in which craftsmen rub
a contrasting colour on the surface of the leather, to emphasise the
original grain or embossing, by hand
Heifer A young female bovine that has not birthed a calf
Hide The pelt of a large animal.
In The Blues The state of hides that have been tanned once using chromium salts.
These hides are light blue in color.
Kip The hide from a grass-fed, immature bovine.
Leather A material made from the skins/hides of animals that has been preserved
and dressed for use, most commonly cattle.
Leatherette/Imitation Leather A manufactured product that imitates leather. Also known as "Fake",
"Faux", "Vegan" or "Synthetic" leather, imitation leather is a material that
may look or feel like leather but isn't - it is a false copy made to look like
the real deal.
Liming This process in which hides are soaked in an alkaline solution to remove
the hair, preparing the hides for the tanning process.
Matte Finish A flat or dull finish.
Milling The process in which tanned hides are tumbled in large, rotating drums
to soften the leather or enhance the grain using heat & misting water,
that produces suppleness in hides.
Mineral Tanned When mineral salts such as aluminium, chromium or zirconium are used
in the tanning process of hides.
Morocco (1) Vegetable tanned goatskin that has a naturally developed grain
character. The most common & most characteristic grain is hard grain.
(2) Goatskin that has been vegetable tanned and hand boarded in a damp
condition - it should be limited to goatskin tanned with sumac.
Naked Leather Leather that has not been given a topical application, treatment or finish,
which may change the natural state and appearance of the leather, other
than dye
Nappa Made from unsplit sheepskin, lambskin or kidskin, Nappa leather is soft
full grain clothing or gloving leather. It's most often tanned with
aluminium and chromium salts and dyed throughout.
Natural Grain A leather that retains the full, original grain.
Oak Tannage(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 Certain fish oils may be used to tan the leather, resulting in very soft,
pliable leather, like chamois.
Papillary The upper portion of the hide that has been separated from the reticular
or split layer.
Patent Leather Leather with a glossy impermeable finish produced by successive coats of
drying oils, varnish, or synthetic resins.
Patina A natural characteristic that develops on full grain leather through normal
use over a period of time. It is known to be a hallmark of quality leather
and is highly sought after because it adds character to the product.
Pearlized Leather Leather which has a sheen or pearl-like lustre, also known as "pearlescent
leather"
Perforated In leather, this is the process of die-cutting small holes to form a pattern.
The holes can vary in size, density and pattern.
Pigmented Leather that has been sprayed with a solid pigment(opaque finish), to
maintain consistency in colour and texture. Adding pigment can be used
to add protection to the leather and also to hide imperfections.
Plating/Plated Leather The process of using a hot metal plate to press leather under high
pressure, this is another way imperfections can be covered
Printed Leather Leather which has been given a pattern on its surface, often done by
embossing but can also be done through other methods such as silk
screen printing
Pull-Up A term used to describe the behaviour of leather that has been treated
with oils, waxes and dyes to the point that when it is stretched, the finish
becomes lighter in those stretched areas. This is considered a mark of
good quality.
Rawhide Untanned or partially tanned cattle hide.
Reconstructed Leather Material composed of collagen fibers, obtained from macerated hide
pieces, which have been reconstructed into a fibrous material.
Retannage A modifying secondary tannage applied after intermediate operations
following the primary tannage to further enrich and enhance the quality
of the leather.
Round Hand A full-handed leather, usually slightly swelled through tannage and fat
liquoring.
Saddle Leather Leather used to make saddles and harnesses made from vegetable
tanned cattle hide, usually a natural tan colour and fairly flexible
Saturation A most important aspect in producing high quality leathers. Full
saturation of tanning, fat liquors and dyes are essential in the production
of fine leathers.
Semi-Aniline Used to describe leather that has been aniline dyed and then slightly
pigmented. This type of leather has colour consistency as well as stain
and spill resistance.
Shave Hides are shaved to a particular thickness after tannage by a large shaving
machine. The excess is removed from the bottom of the hide.
Shearling Shearling is a hide from a recently sheared sheep or lamb, which is
tanned with the wool intact.
Shoulder Leather Leather taken from the shoulder area of the cow, this is a softer area of
the hide and is often used in the manufacture of bags.
Shrunken Grain Leather A full, natural grain leather that is shrunken to enlarge and enhance the
grain character of the leather.
Side Leather Hides that have been cut in half( cut along the backbone), forming two
‘sides’ in order to better accommodate small tannery equipment.
Skive To slice or split into a thin layer, or to reduce leather to a specific
thickness.
Snuffed The grain surface is abraded with brushes, emery wheel or sandpaper.
Leather is snuffed for the purpose of removing defective grain or sueding
the surface of the leather.
Split Leather Leather made from the bottom split, or reticular layer of the hide, which
has an imitation grain embossed into a heavily finished pigmented
surface to simulate papillary leather.
Splitting Cutting leather into two or more layers preparatory to tanning.
Spread The size of a hide is known as the spread and is measured by a machine in
square feet.
Steer Hide Leather that has been made from the skin of steers, it has a tight grain
structure.
Strap Leather Heavyweight, vegetable-tanned leather used for industrial purposes or to
support seats and backs on certain types of seating.
Suede/Suede Split Similar to nubuck in the sense that it has a nappy texture, suede is
brushed to achieve a fuzzy surface. However, suede is of a lower quality
to nubuck because it comes from the inside or flesh split of the hide.
Sueding The process of raising fibers on the grain side of a hide to give a velvet
nap effect. This is generally called ‘Nubuck’ or ‘grain sueded. ’
Table Dyeing Dyeing leather by laying out the material on a table and applying the dye
with a brush - also known as "brush colouring".
Table Run Similar to "production run", these leathers are not graded.
Tannin Any various solvent, astringent substances of plant origin used in tanning
leather.
Tanning The method of making putrescible, decomposable raw hides into leather
Top Coat A clear, protective coating applied to the surface of the leather, which
may give the leather a lustre or sheen
Top Grain Top grain leather is made from the outer split of the hide but has had its
surface layer buffed or sanded to reduce imperfections. An over-used
term commonly used to refer to corrected grain leather.
Trim The removal of the outer edges of the hide not suitable for making
leather.
Unfinished Leather Normally defines aniline dyed, naked leathers with no additional
application intended to finish, color or treat in any way that would alter
the natural characteristics of the leather.
Upholstery Leather A broad term for leather that is processed for use in furniture, vehicles or
aeroplanes
Vat Dyeing Often confused with drum dyeing, vat dyeing is an older method of dying
leather and is commonly carried out in a bucket or vat.
Vegetable Leather/Vegetable
Tanning
Converting rawhide into leather using vegetable-based tanning agents
along with small amounts of other agents to assist the process.
Vegetable tanning offers greater body and firmness than chromium
tanning
Weight The weight of leather is measured in ounces per square foot.
Wet Blue Leather Leather that after chrome tanning has not been further processed and is
sold in the wet condition ("wet blue"). A colorless oily liquid made from
coal tar used in making dyes and resins in organic synthesis.
Wick The action of absorbing or dissipating moisture and heat through the
fibre structure of the leather
Yield The amount of usable leather produced from a hide.