Types of Leather

MTR Custom Leather, LLC offers many types of leather for the products. Such as, elephant, shark skin, ostrich, and much more. Learn about the different kinds of leather by checking out these blogs under the type of leather category.

Selecting Leather-Different Weighs, Styles, Cuts, Hides, Skins-How Leather is Sold-Leather Tanning Processing


The hides of large animals such as Cow are generally sold in the cuts indicated above. Sides are the most common cut of Vegetable Tanned Cowhide… and Double Shoulders are the most popular cut for the making of belts. The hides of smaller animals such as Sheep, Deer or Goat are generally referred to as Skins and sold as whole hides.


Generally, leather is sold by the square foot or by the pound. When sold by the pound, the leather is weighed when shipped from our warehouse… per pound pricing usually applies to Skirting, Harness or Sole Leather. When leather is sold by the square foot, the hides are measured at the tannery and are usually sold in whole pieces. The actual square footage of each piece of leather will vary… no two pieces are exactly the same. The various cuts of cowhide are all sold by the square foot. Skins are priced by the square foot… but occasionally some skins may be priced by the piece (such as shearlings). Our large Saddle Skirting Sides are sold by the piece. 


All leathers, except rawhide, go through a tanning process. The main tanning processes available are Chrome Tanned, Vegetable Tanned and Alum Tanned. Chrome tanned leather is tanned using soluble chromium salts, primarily chromium sulfate. Vegetable tanned leather is tanned using vegetable materials derived from tree bark and various other plants. Alum tanned leather is tanned with a colorless aluminum salt and is primarily used as lace leather. Other variations are Chrome Oil Tanned, where chrome tanned leather is treated with oil to help preserve the leather… and Retanned where vegetable tanned leather is simply retanned using chrome salts or chrome leather is retanned using a vegetable process.


  • The proper thickness of leather is important to any project. The Leather Substance Table below provides comparative figures to clarify terms used in the leather industry to indicate leather thickness.
  • The thickness of most craft leather is designated by “ounce”, which is 1/64″ in thickness. Sole leather which may be used by sandal and shoe makers is measured in terms of “iron” which is 1/48″ in thickness.
  • Even though most leather is subjected to some splitting and leveling to minimize variations, each cut will have some variation of thickness and the weight is therefore indicated as a range… such as 7-8 ounce or 12-13 iron.
  •  Leather is measured and marked at the tannery, with square footage usually indicated in sq. ft. and quarter ft….for example: A hide with a measurement of 23-2 would mean 23 1/2 sq.ft. Pigskins are usually measured in sq. ft. and tenths…. for example: 23.2 would mean 23 and 2 tenths sq.ft. An electronic device is used by the tannery to accurately compute the square footage in each piece of leather.
  • Leather used in the shoe industry and upholstery industry is commonly measured using letter symbols to indicate thickness. Example: LL(2 -2 1/2 ounce), L (2 1/2 – 3 ounce), LM (3 -3 1/2 ounce), M (3 1/2″ – 4 ounce), HM ( 4- 4 1/2 ounce), H (4 1/2 – 5 ounce). HH (5 – 5 1/2 ounce), HHH (5 1/2 – 6 ounce).
1/32″.80.031321 1/2
3/64″1.20.046932 1/4
5/64″2.00.078153 3/4
3/32″2.40.093864 1/2
7/64″2.80.109475 1/4
9/64″3.60.140696 3/4
5/32″4.00.1563107 1/2
11/64″4.40.1719118 1/4
13/64″5.20.2031139 3/4
7/32″5.60.21881410 1/2
15/64″6.00.23441511 1/4
17/64″6.80.26561712 3/4
9/32″7.20.28131813 1/2

Leather Terms Glossary
Aniline:  Leather that is treated all the way through with transparent dye.  The effect is applied by immersing the leather in a “dye” bath.  Because the finish is transparent and shows the natural markings, only the best quality hides can be used.
Antiqued:  Leather that is dyed with one color over another (usually darker over lighter) so as to create rich highlights and an artificialyl aged appearance.  Also referred to as “distressed” leather.
Brain Tanned Leather:  This leather is made by a labor-intensive process which uses emulsified oils extracted from animal brains, typically deer or elk.  They are known for their exceptional softness and their ability to be washed.
Bridle:  #1 US Cowhide, vegetable tanned with waxes and aniline oils added for outdoor wear.  Has a smooth, waxy feel, with very smooth flesh side.  Can be oiled or embossed.  Drum Dyed after finish tanning, so may have a slightly lighter center than outside finish.   Used for canine, equine tack and for high-end belts.  Available in 5 colors : Black, Havana Brown, Chestnut, Saddle Tan and Medium Brown
Buffed Leather:  Leather from which the top surface has been buffed by abrasion.  Suede is an example of splits that have been buffed.  Nubuc is an example of top grain leather that has received buffing.
Corrected Grain:  Leather that has been buffed to remove blemishes, then covered with new artificial grain created by using pigments and other finishes.
Crust:  Leather that has been tanned (treated to become nonperishable), but not colored or otherwise finished.
Distressed:  Another term for antique leather.
Dosset:  A dosset is a leather shape, many times referred to as a “double back.”  It is basically a whole hide with the neck and belly portions trimmed off.  Dossets are a popular choice for natural “oak tanned” leather for use in belts and straps.  Dossets are normally large in size, up to 40 square feet, and will average approximately 76+” in length.
Drum Dyed:  The process of coloring leather by tumbling it in a rotating drum immersed in dye. A very effective method allowing maximum dye penetration.
Embossed Leather:  Leather that has been stamped or pressed with a design under a very high pressure.  This can be a design pattern or grain texture such as alligator hide.
Finish:  An enhancing effect applied to leather after it has been tanned.  Examples are dyeing, embossing, buffing, antiquing, waxing, waterproofing and so on.  A finish can also refer to the top coating that is applied to a leather surface to protect, enhance or seal the leather. 
Full Grain Leather:  Leather that has not been altered except for hair removal.  Full grain leather is the most genuine type of leather, as it retains all the original texture and markings of the original hide.
Glazed Leather:  Aniline-dyed leather which has been polished to a high luster by passing through glass or steel rollers under great pressure.
Glove Leather:  Very soft leather that is typically used for gloves.  This can be lamb, deer or soft tanned cowhide.
Grain:  A word used to describe the natural characteristics of a leather hide, such as its pores, wrinkles, markings and texture.
Hand:  A word used to describe the feel (i.e.: softness of fullness) of leather.
Harness:  #1 US Cowhides, vegetable tanned and hot stuffed with oils and waxes for outdoor wear.  The flesh side has a smooth, waxy finish.  Hot Stuffed, then drum dyed, so Black will not be struck all the way through, and will have a semi-natural center.  Used for heavy equine and tack items.  Offered in Natural, Russet Tan and Black
Horse “Butt” Leather:  This erroneous term is often used to describe the strips that are cut from horse leather in the production of shell cordovan.  These strips are actually in front of the butt section of the horse hide.  Prized for their low cost and durability, this leather is used for items such as baseballs, gun holsters and knife sheaths.

Latigo:  #1 US Cowhide, vegetable tanned, then re-tanned with  chrome and oils and for outdoor extreme wear.  Leather is drum dyed, then oils and waxes added, so the color it all the way through the hide.  Used for both canine and equine tack items, and many other uses.  Offered in Burgundy and Black
Nap:  Describes the soft, “fuzzy” effect achieved in leather by buffing or brushing.
Natural Grain:  A leather that displays its original grain.
Nubuc:  A top grain leather that has been buffed or brushed to create a soft, velvety effect.  Differs from suede in that while suede is created from the flesh (inner or split) side of the leather, nubuc is created using the grain (outer) side, thus giving it added strength and durability.  
Oil Tanned:  Leather that is tanned or re-tanned using a variety of oils to create a soft finish and to make the leather more resistant to weather conditions.  Oil tanned leathers are used mainly in the tack and shoe industries.
Patina:  The aura or luster that develops in a quality piece of leather with age.
Perforated:  Leather in which a pattern of small holes is stamped.  Used mainly in automotive upholstery.
Plating:  The process of pressing leather under a heated plate.  Often used in upholstery leather to mask imperfections.
Pull-Up:  Describes the behavior of leather that has been treated with oils, waxes and dyes in such a way that when leather is pulled or stretched, the finish becomes lighter and the underlying base color is more evident.  Popular for upholstery, shoe and boot leathers as well as for luggage and handbags. 
Rawhide:  Rawhide is made by scraping the skin thin, soaking in a lime solution, then stretching it while it dries.  Rawhide is stiffer and more brittle than other forms of leather.  Its main uses are in production of drum heads and for saddle tack.  Rawhide will stretch up to 25% when soaked in cold water then shrink back when dyed.  Most rawhide is sold in the natural state “honey color” but can also be bleached to give a whiter appearance. 
Re-Tan:  A second finish process that is added over an underlying tannage.
Sauvage:  A coloring effect created by blending two similar dyes to create a mottled or marbled appearance.  
Semi-Aniline:  Aniline leather to which a matching pigment layer is added to even out the color and add protection.
Shell Cordovan:  A very dense, hard and durable leather produced from a small area on horse butt leather.  It is oval in shape, tanned, stuffed, shaven and polished in a process that takes about 6 months to produce a piece of leather that is only about 1 – 1.5 square feet in size.  Prized for its harness and durability.
Side Leather:  Leather made from one-half or “side” of a full hide.  Typically refers to top grain leather.  Most saddle tack leathers are sold as a side leather such as bridle, harness, latigo, skirting and strap sides.
Split Leather:  Leather made from the lower (inner flesh) layers of a hide that have been split away from the upper (grain) layers.  Not as strong or durable as full grain leather.  Typically this leather is milled and turned into suede leather.
Suede:  Leather that has been buffed and brushed to create a “fuzzy” feel.  Typically this leather is produced from splits that are dyed, then milled to create a soft hand.  
Top Grain:  Leather that the outer most layers have been left intact.  Leather is considered top grain as long as the grain side in intact but some correction can be applied.
Two-Tone:  An effect created by applying layers or contrasting dyes to a piece of leather in order to create a mottled or aged appearance.  
Upholstery Leather:  Leather crafted from a whole hide and intended for use of furniture, auto or aviation industries.  Full hides are used to increase the cutting area for large cut patterns.
Vegetable Tanning:  A method of hide tanning which utilizes organic materials such as bark instead of traditional chemicals.  Sometimes called “Oak Leather” because oak bark is sometimes used in this process.  Some tanneries will use chestnut or other types of bark in their tanning process.  This method of tanning is considered to be more environmentally friendly than traditional chrome tanning methods.  Vegetable tanning is the preferred method for leather that is used for carving and embossing.  Most bridle, latigo, harness and natural strap leather are vegetable tanned.  
Weight:  A term used to describe the thickness of leather.  Typically in ounces, irons or millimeters.  
Wet Blue:  Another term for Chrome Tanned Leather.  This process was invented in 1858 using chromium sulfate and other salts of chromium.  It is more supple and pliable that vegetable tanned leather and does not discolor or lose shape as drastically in water as vegetable tanned. Wet Blue leathers are the base leather for most oil tanned and bag leathers that are widely used in the shoe, luggage and accessory industries.  One the leather hides have been processed into the Wet Blue state they can be shipped, stored and processed into others types of leather hides.  Wet Blue or Chrome “Pearl” sides are also used in their wet blue state for gloves, work aprons and many other uses.
Whole Hides:  Refers to leather created from a whole hide as opposed to cut pieces.  Typically upholstery leather or hair on hides.

Fun Fact about leather- MTR Custom Leather- Must See!

FUN FACT About leather ➡️➡️

Did you know that leather was once used as wallpaper? Back in the 17th century, it was all about fashion to have your house wallpapered with leather in places such as Florence and Venice in Italy. #mtrcl #leather #mtrcustomleather #holsters #madeinameruca

Hand crafted leather products… years of experience.. remarkable results- MTR Custom leather

Leather is a craft that builds on years of experience to establish each product. What I like about leather, its not perfect. There’s scar marks, bite marks, stretch marks, branding, etc. When each imperfect piece is crafted; it makes a TRULY one of a kind NATURAL artwork! #mtrcl

Wild boar.. exotic leather options.. MTR Custom Leather has it all!!

Wild boar 🐗… WHAT… yup👍🏻 you heard it right… MTR Custom Leather offers several exotic leather available for holsters, belts, ammo pouches, rifle slings, keychains, dog collars and much more! Exotic leather is some of the toughest quality leather available on the market!

Check out the video…


10 amazing facts about leather that you didn’t know

How well do you know your leather?

The leather industry is one of the oldest industries in the world and has existed for thousands of years. The main reason for this is the toughness, resistance, abundance and versatility of an age-old product. Apart from their regular uses in apparel, footwear and accessories, leather has also been used for other applications (some which will seriously blow your mind).

Hence, we have compiled a listicle of 10 amazing facts about leather that might just surprise you a little :

1) The leather industry generates more than 53.2 Billion US$ worldwide annually

Just to put that in perspective, this figure is more than the overall value of commodities such as rubber, cotton, coffee, tea and sugar combined. You will know why, once you read fact number 4. Of this, India contributed 1.42 billion US$ in trade and export.

Let’s just let that sink in for a while.

2) Leather was once used as a wallpaper

We cannot really imagine what leather on a wall would have looked like or felt like but we sure know that this could have been possible. The animal-hide product has been recognized as a symbol of quality, status and chic for millennia.

However, for now we’ll just stick with paint, thanks !

3) Leather changes its texture based on the environment

As leather contains pores, it changes in texture and appearance depending on what environment it is in. In a fairly humid environment, leather becomes softer as it soaks up the moisture that’s in the air so therefore, a dry environment makes the leather much tougher. It also lasts longer if it is kept away from water for a longer duration

So it’s always a good idea to keep your leather items in a suitable environment. Here are some tips to care for the leather in your car.

4) An average person is wearing four articles made of leather everyday

Think about it. When people get ready for work every morning, they wear their clothes, maybe put on a belt (or not), wear their shoes, put on their watch strap and of course carry their wallet or a purse which 8/10 times is made out of leather. This is the single most used commodity on the market, in the world.


5) White Leather is the most difficult to produce

Leather in general is a very coarse and hard material. But this characteristic also has a downside to it as not all hides are easy to dye. Especially in case of white leather as the the dye is prone to cracking and does not set.

Don’t be surprised if you walk into a leather store and wonder why the white products are more expensive than their differently coloured counterparts

6) Salmon leather is actually a thing

Generations of Siberians and scandinavians have been using Salmon leather for centuries. Having originated in Siberia, the ancient art of manufacturing Salmon leather has always been around and is more eco-friendly because of the use of the vegetable tanning method. However Salmon leather never gained in popularity due to the dwindling numbers of wild Salmon in certain areas of the world and the wide availability of animal skin.

However, some countries like Iceland and Norway carry out the process intensively and sustainably.

7) Golfers used leather golf balls in the 19th century

Golf has been around for quite some time and the nobles who played the sport got fed up with using wooden balls because of the damage they would receive every time a ball was struck. Wooden golf balls were replaced by leather balls filled with feathers inside.

It didn’t stay around for very long but sure did make for a really classy putt.

8) Leather has Insane physical properties that make them ideal for upholstery

If you have always been wondering why people always prefer leather seats, then there are reasons apart from just the cosmetic aesthetic. This highly versatile material has natural insulation properties, resistance to tear, abrasion and puncture and the permeability to water vapour. Honestly, leather furniture and seats are still kind of irreplaceable.

Don’t you think so ?

9) Leather was used by sailors in sailboats and ships for ages

Among other things leather also has excellent air retention properties. So much so that sailors preferred using them on their sailboats in medieval times. The Veneti were seafaring people of Celtic descent who were the most famous among these. The leather sails were particularly useful for the ruggedness and tensile strength while navigating rough Atlantic waters.


10) Leather is a naturally renewable resource

Leather has been around for centuries and is made from the skins of deceased animals without the need for the use of expensive synthetic materials. It has always been eco-friendly and that is something that will never change especially with the advent of biodegradable leather in the 21st century.

It’s a win-win!

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A Guide to Leather – MTR Custom Leather Blog-Discussing Calf Skin Leather Hides??

There are many different types of leathers that are used on footwear these days. And many different styles to the same type of  so allow me to break down the most common options and tell you a bit about each, sharing what their plus and minuses, myths and all of the other opinions I might have on each.

Calfskin – Saying calfskin is like saying the word ‘car.’ It’s the general type of leather used to produce many of the sub types, like ‘crust’ or ‘box’ (aka , aka box ‘calfskin’ — see what I am saying?). It simply means that the leather came from calf, as opposed to a full grown cow (which in reality is the case most of the leather used in the high end shoe industry). Cow leather is simply not that great. Think about your 18 year old skin versus your 60 year old skin (no offense, but it’s a reality). That’s the difference between calfskin and cowskin.

The most common type of calfskins found in dress shoes are the following:

  1.  (below) –  is untreated (read as not dyed) leather. It is left intentionally natural in color in order to allow for a coloring process after the fact (i.e. not in the tannery, but rather by the shoe factory, a patina artist or some other 3rd party). A lot of what is on offer these days is crust calf and that is because a lot of people want a patina/aged/burnished look and doing this on Crust calf is best and easiest. Italians and the French have been the ones to really pioneer the use of Crust calf with their history of colorful shoes. Crust calf, not having been in the drum for dyeing, is usually softer than the other types of Calfskins. However, in some cases, this softness can result to heavier creasing so do beware of that. Everything comes with a trade-off. Also, because it is left untreated, it means that the leathers’ defects (scars/scratches/bites etc) are usually more prominent as they are not hidden by the dyeing process of the drums and finishing of the tanneries.
A Guide to Leather
Crust Calf
A Guide to Leather
Box calf
  • Box Calf (aniline – above) – Box calf is the most traditional and commonly used leather there is. It is simply a pre-dyed leather, like 99% of all black calf leather. Most likely any shoe that has a uniform finish is going to be made from Box calf. The English shoemakers have traditionally stuck with Box calf as they never got so much into patina and making Green/Blue/Red shoes (although this is changing 😊. Some notable tanneries producing Box calf are Weinheimer for Black calf, Du Puy and Annonay for everything else.

    Box calf will always be stiffer due to the dyeing process. And Black box calf will traditionally be the most rigid. Something about the black dye makes it harder than the rest. For creasing, well this will depend on the quality of the skin as I have seen Box calf hardly crease at all and then some that creased worse than anything else. In this department, there is no true rhyme or reason. But it is also generally thought of as being more resistant and durable with respects to its crust counterpart.

  •  (image below) – This is somewhat of a contradiction in itself but it’s common in the industry so let’s discuss it. Bookbinder/Polished/Shined calf is simply a way to take cheap leather and give it a top acrylic coating that hides all blemishes and leaves this plastic like look. It allows the shoemaker to buy cheap and sell high, tricking customers into believing that it is top quality calfskin when it is not. Italian brands have been doing this for years. Nearly all designer brands use this type of leather, quite frequently as it is a GREAT way to increase your profit margins. The lower priced welted English brands have been using this too for quite some time although I presume that their ideas for doing so might be more functional for the following reasons.

    Bookbinder is durable. Its top coating makes it nearly impenetrable. So if you live in a wet environment, then bookbinder leather can be a good option for you in order to not have your shoes so easily ruined or requiring constant upkeep. The downside is that it is extremely rigid which means it cracks easily, particularly in the vamp where the shoe creases during each step. And once it cracks, that’s it. There is no coming back from that. And it also scuffs easily and you can’t shine those scuffs out as it is in the acrylic, not the leather.

A Guide to Leather
Bookbinder – Image courtesy of Fratelli Rossetti

 –  is leather. Don’t be mistaken. It’s the underside of the hide i.e. the part that is inside the calf. For it’s long hair like textured appearance it has been loved and hated by many for years for various reasons. Let’s discuss the different types of  and the pro’s and con’s of each.

  1.  –  is simply the premium uncut suede that you typically find in the very high end, expensive shoes. You can tell that suede is full grain when it is super soft and when you rub your fingers over it, it drastically changes from light to dark depending on which way the hair is laying. The hairs of the suede will always be quite long on a . It will also have a shimmery sheen to it. It’s hard to explain but is more vibrant than the other suedes.
  2.  – Split suede is like bookbinder in a manner of speaking. They shave off the top layer of the suede, most likely as a way to hide less-premium cuts that have more noticeable blemishes were they to leave the suede uncut. Split suede is cheaper and more often than not seen as inferior. Its texture is not nearly as plush as full-grain suede and does not have as much of a contrast between light and dark when rubbing your fingers across the suede. Its hairs are naturally shorter.
A Guide to Leather
Split grain suede by J.FitzPatrick Footwear

Here are a few of my opinions on the matter of suede and the differences between full grain and split suede. Split suede is often bad mouthed but in reality most makers are using it and let me explain why. First of all, Full Grain is insanely expensive, nearly double (if not more) the cost of split suede. Of course it is nicer to feel but it is not better in terms of durability and I believe that is why it is not used as much. You don’t get double the lifespan from it and it is often more expensive than premium calfskins. It doesn’t age as well either as when those beautiful long hairs of the suede start to get worn down from wear and tear it simply does not look as nice anymore. It shows more so it’s wear and tear. Split suede on the other hand is not nearly as plush and elegant looking but it is durable and holds up well to wear and tear.

I once wore my snuff suede chukka boots (split suede) on a scooter in Paris and got caught in a hailstorm downpour. I got so wet that the shoes turned black. But when they dried, they dried just fine, evenly and the snuff went back to its original color. And that’s the beauty of split suede. When it comes from a good tannery, then its quality is still high and it wears very well. And on top of that, to be honest, it takes rain better and this myth that suede isn’t good for rain is simply garbage. Cheap suede is not good for rain. Sand suede is not good for rain. But Snuff suede and darker takes bad weather like a charm and in fact, I prefer to wear my suede on wet days than my leather. The only thing one must do is remember to steam and brush your suede once it has dried. Do that and you will forever have good suede.

A Guide to Leather
Grained Brogues by Crockett & Jones

Grain Leather – Grain leather is simply a stamped calfskin. Its look is not natural and is created by the tannery. You buy leather in different thicknesses when buying from the tannery and I want to say that Grain leather is typically a touch thicker than your traditional calfskins as it needs to be when having that texture finish to it. You tend to find grain leathers on models that are more for adverse weather as its textured finish usually hides wear and tear better than a smooth surface does. Some of the more notable grain leather is the dress shoe industry are:

  1. Pebble Grain (shown above) – This is quite the prominent grain and is often used on boots and/or shoe models like full brogues. This is the grain that really takes the weather well as its thick pebble-like finish allows for the ultimate beat up without showing too much wear and tear. The English shoemakers are quite fond of using this type of grain to combat that rainy environment and particularly for those that live in the countryside, want to dress smart and maintain a good pair of shoes. A country brogue or boot is nearly always grained.
  2. Pin Grain – Somewhat like the pebble grain in look, the pin grain is simply a much smaller design of grain, that looks like it could have been made by pin dots. For some reason, its finish is often shinier and I never knew why whereas pebble is always matte. You tend to find pin grain in the higher end shoemakers as it is more fine grain and truth be told, not so sure as to how it holds up to the adverse weather as I have never had a pair. But it’s nice for having something different than calfskin and still being able to maintain elegance through its subtle appearance.
  3. Hatch Grain (shown below) – This grain has taken the industry by storm in the last 10 years. It’s a softer grain all around and much more subtle than it’s pebble-like counterparts. Due to this softer nature, I personally find it more dressy or at least the ability to wear it with more dress attire whereas, for me, I see pebble grain as casual and hence why you often find that on boots or full brogues. But good old Hatch grain is found on all models, even smart oxfords or dressy loafers. It’s the new age grain that many customers seek but that is still somewhat rare to find as it has not fully caught on to being always on offer by all of the tanneries. The only downside is that I don’t believe this grain takes as much wear and tear as the others do.
A Guide to Leather
Shoes by Lof & Tung of Skoaktiebolaget

There are many more variants of leather used in the industry, like Cordovan and a million other types of grain, but the ones in this post make up the majority of what is found on the dress shoes of today.

Knowing the differences will help you make informed decisions about your purchases.

I hope that you have all enjoyed this post. Please share to spread the knowledge!

Justin FitzPatrick






Source: A Guide to Leather – The Shoe Snob BlogThe Shoe Snob Blog

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10 Questions about Top Grain Leather

Top grain leather is one of the main leather grades. We have collected 10 of the most common questions about this Top Grain Leather.

1 – What is top grain leather?

Top grain leather is the second highest grade of leather. It has a uniform finish and is thinner and more workable than full grain leather, but it does not have its strength or durability.


2 – What does top grain leather look like?

The imperfections which occur naturally in full grain leather have been sanded away and the top

grain leather is imprinted with a regular imitation grain. The result is a smooth, uniformly patterned surface.

3 – Where does top grain leather come from?

There are 3 possible answers:

Where in the world does top grain leather come from?

The top six leather producing countries in the world are: China, India, Italy, Brazil, Korea and Russia. China produces 80% of the world’s leather.

Which animals are used in the production of leather?

Most leather is made from cows, because of their availability, their size and the quality of the leather. Leather can also be made from pigs, sheep, deer and horses. Small quantities of exotic leathers like a alligators, snakes, frogs and sting-rays.

>Where on the hide does top grain leather come from?

As its name suggests, top grain leather comes from the top of the hide, but several millimeters have been removed from the surface in order to eliminate imperfections.

4 – How is top grain leather made?

Several millimeters from the surface of the hide are sanded away, the leather is then buffed to create a smooth, blemish free surface.

5 – How to protect top grain leather

Top grain leather will have an aniline dye or a semi aniline dye. The leather should be nourished every three months, depending on the type of item and its usage.

Top_Grain_Leather_Duffle_Bag_Travel_Luggage_Sport_Bag_GLT082_7_1024x1024 copiaYou can also use a leather Conditioner, like the one we have in our stock, to give some more softness and care to the leather surface.

Disclaimer: You should always test any new products on a small inconspicuous area of the leather first, before applying all over, to ensure you are happy with any changes that may occur to the appearance and texture.

6 – How long will top grain leather lasts?

The life of your top grain leather will depend on the initial quality of the hide, the type of product and its usage and care. Obviously a Full grain leather will lasts longer, but top grain leather will last for a quite while too.

7 – How thick is top grain leather?

The thickness of an animal hide will depend on the type of animal. A cow hide, the most likely choice for top grain leather, is about 3/64thof an inch thick, the thickness of a coin.

8 – Can top grain leather peel?

Top grain leather which has a semi aniline dye and protective coating will peel over time.

9 – Can top grain leather be bonded?

Bonded leather is the lowest quality leather which is made by gluing scraps of leather together in the way that chipboard is made from scraps of wood. Top grain leather is not bonded, it is the top layer of the hide which has had surface imperfections removed.

10 – Common uses of top grain leather<

Top grain leather is soft and attractive and most of the common items we know are made with top grain leather.

Source: 10 Questions about Top Grain Leather

CHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman…  FAQS — MTR Custom Leather

MTR offers a wide selection of exotic leather. These leathers varies weekly. As we get in different exotic leather every week, that may not be listed below. Each exotic leather can vary in colors and what we are able to make with it. Some exotic leather only comes in small panels and can only be crafted in small items and goods. For additional questions about our exotic leather, please call (336) 879-2166 or email us at sales@mtrcustomleather.com.


Source: FAQS — MTR Custom Leather

Exotic Leathers-Whats the difference?


Ostrich leather is one of the finest and most durable leathers. Ostrich leather is luxurious, soft, supple, and thick featuring an exotic goose bump appearance from the large feather quill follicles.

Ostrich is a luxurious leather well know for its softness, flexibility and durability.  In spite of its softness, Ostrich leather is unsurpassed for its tactile strength.  It is, in fact one of the strongest leathers available.  Naturally occurring oils in the leather contribute to its durability, preventing cracking, even under extreme temperatures and sun exposure. Ostrich leather can be cut into very thin layers which remain strong and create lighter weight garments.

The main distinguishing feature of ostrich leather is the quill or feather socket markings. The “full quill” area of the leather is the most sought after and therefore the most expensive type of ostrich leather. “Half quill” or “semi quill” or “smooth ostrich” is not as highly valued, bearing less of the quill pattern. The quill pattern is the result of large follicles which each contained a feather.

Though ostrich is very soft, it will not stretch a great deal. For its weight, ostrich is one of the strongest leathers available. The characteristic large quill pattern comes from the back of the bird where the large feathers grow. Since each quill mark once contained a feather, there is an actual hole in the skin at each quill mark.


Kangaroo leather is lightweight, strong and flexible with high abrasion resistance compared to cowhide. Kangaroo leather has the best strength/weight ratio of any upland boot leather available. Australian kangaroo leather is lighter but stronger than cowhide of equal thickness. Kangaroo is a very light-weight and thin leather that is ounce-for-ounce the toughest leather in the world.  It is very interesting to note that Kangaroo is generally much more resistant to drying out than calfskin. Kangaroo leather is lighter and stronger than the hide of a cow or goat. It has 10 times the tensile strength of cowhide and is 50% stronger than goatskin.

It has been stated that Kangaroo is the best footwear leather available. Kangaroo averages about two ounces in thickness.  The skins are very supple, will flex readily, but will not stretch much because the fiber structure is very fine, concentrated, and tight. These leathers are normally dry, they contain few oils. Expect the vamps to be well matched; there will be slight color variation on the analine finished hides. Since the skin are glazed and plated, there is virtually no distinguished grain. Almost all kangaroo has scars. Expect to find some in your boots~this is your assurance of the real thing.


Elephant is a very strong leather. It resists cracking and tearing because of the relatively long fiber structure under the grain. Because the fibers are open, the leather is somewhat soft and breathes well. Liquids will penetrate very easily from the flesh side but since elephant is between 3 to 5 ounces thick, a good deal of perspiration will be dispersed by it.

Elephant is an exotic leather that is thick and very durable with a course, rippled texture.  Elephant and Hippo leather have as much grain, texture and toughness as you would expect but are surprisingly comfortable wearing.




Crocodile and alligator skin renders a very attractive and fashionable leather. The leather is strong, supple, durable and very expensive. A bony layer within the skin adds a protective shield, while a dimple on each scale makes a very exotic look. Alligator and crocodile will not stretch very much. The scales are hard, some have a bony material on the back of them, and will not stretch or flex. Most all stretch or flex takes place between the scales and places most all stress on the underlying membrane.

AMERICAN ALLIGATOR: Hailing from the Southeast USA and frequently harvested from farm-bred gators as well as from wild animals, American alligator skin is a classic, durable and versatile leather.  The American alligator’s hide is the soft and more pliable material. This is because the skin of this reptile is less bony than the skin of crocodiles. This softness makes the alligator’s skin easier to work with than the skin of other reptiles, making it easier to work with for cutting, stitching and folding.

CAIMAN CROCODILE: Caiman crocodiles are also used in the fashion industry by many. Hailing from South America and Central America, the caiman crocodile’s skin is taken only from farms. While caimans might be cousins to the American alligator, the hides of the two animals are worlds apart. Caiman hides tend to be stiffer than alligator hides. This is because the Caiman has distinctive calcium rivets in the center of each scale. These calcium deposits also give the caiman’s scales a patterned effect that is not seen in alligator hides, one that may even persist through the dyeing process.


Shark skin, one tanned, has a very high resistance to abrasion. Shark also has one of the longest fiber structures of any leather which gives the leather a strong tensile strength. The grain is very well defined, but will be smoother depending upon the size, species, and area of the skin that is cut. The leather will tend to be boardy, however, since it is vegetable tanned. This leather is very dry. Shark will not stretch much. The finish is usually a hard finish that will not withstand the abrasion or flex that the leather itself will. Certain part of the skins are more brittle than others; for example, the chin is not cut into the vamps because it cracks more readily than the sides or belly. The grain should always match in linear grain direction and color, grain character will be close.


Snakeskin is typically produced from venomous sea snakes which are commercially farmed. The leather is delicate, thin, soft and flexible, while the fine small hexagon scales produce exotic detailed grains.

Snakeskins are very desirable for boots because of the unique grain, scales, and color patterns. Snakes are skinned in two ways, cut down the belly scales leaving the small scales in the center, “belly” or “front” cut python, and cut down the back leaving the wide belly scale in the center, called “back” cut python. The scales were the snakes protection from the elements and are essentially like a callous, dead skin. The size of the scale will vary depending upon the area of the skin cut and the age of the snake.  The scales have a “lip” open toward the tail will grab and aid the snake in crawling. This lip is your assurance that the snake is genuine. Snakeskin is very dry after tanning, especially the glazed skins. The solid colored skins have been bleached to remove the natural color pattern. They are then drum dyed so the ·color penetrate’ the skin and does not lie on the surface, analine finish.

Source: Exotic Leathers

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