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LEATHER TYPES & TERMS-Raw leather-Craft Leather-FYI

A summary of some of the common types and terms.

Aniline– Type of leather dyed exclusively with soluble dyes. Only the skin is dyed, the surface is not coated with a pigment, a dye coat top is sometimes applied to give a more even colour. Its lack of cover means it is the most attractive, supple and expensive leather, it also the leather which needs the most care.

Bellies – Taken from the edge of the ‘bend or butt’, vegetable tanned, the flank. This article is smaller & narrower in cutting area, it gives the user a classic veg leather at an economic price.

Bends – Term used for sole leather which denotes a half butt, vegetable tanned and rolled flat and hard for use in soles and heels.

Buffing – The process in which leather is sanded or buffed to remove the very top surface or imperfections.

Butts – A part of the hide, usually vegetable tanned, below the shoulders. The leather is generally thicker, less marked and longer & wider in size, suitable for cutting items such as belts.

Chrome Tanned Leather – tanned with chromium salts and/or chromium sulphates for a supple, pliable effect and to prevent discoloration and loss of shape when exposed to moisture.

Coated Leather– Generally made on a split, there is polymer coating applied to the surface which can be embossed to mimic a grain leather. The flexibility and breathability of the leather can be significantly different with a finished split.

Cordovan Leather – made from the tight, firm shell portion of horse butts. Cordovan has very fine pores and a characteristic finish, and is very durable.

Corrected Grain – Leather which is buffed to smooth out imperfections and a pigment is applied to the surface. The leather can then be used as a smooth hi-shine or embossed.

Full Grain– The term used for the outside original skin or hide which has had the hair removed, but otherwise has not been corrected or buffed. Full grain leather possesses the genuine grain of the skin and can also be known as Top Grain.

Linings – Generally a lower grade or economical priced leather used for lining products.

Nap – the term used to describe the fibres standing up on a suede or nubuck.

Nubuck– Aniline dyed leather which has been lightly abraded on the grain surface to create a velvety finish or nap. The nap is very fine because of the tight fibre structure in the grain layer.

Oily Nubuck – Nubuck can also be made with an oily top to give a ‘distressed’ or worn look used mainly on casual boots and shoes.

Patent – High gloss coating on the surface of the leather. It is flexible and retains some breathability.

Pigmented– A durable finish that is provided by a polymer surface coating which contains pigments.

Pull Up – The leather has had a surface finish of a dark wax, when the leather is flexed in shoes or creased in use the top colour lightens to give a ‘worn’ or used look.

Raw Hide– A hide or skin which has only been treated to preserve it before the tanning process.

Semi Aniline– This finish is more durable than aniline it still retains a natural appearance and the light pigment top coat gives a more consistent colour.

Shearling – Wooled sheep and lambskins, tanned with the wool intact.

Shoulders – These are used in both heavy vegetable form for insoles, heels etc. or in lighter weights for leather goods.

Sides – Half a whole hide, generally a cow hide, cut down the back bone to make two sides.

Suede- Leathers that are finished by buffing the flesh side (opposite to the top grain side) to produce a nap.

Suede Split – Leathers that are the underside of the skin, split away from the top grain, dyed and finely buffed.

Veg Tanned Leather– leathers that are made in pools where they remain for some weeks soaked in extracts of natural origin, like quebracho tree, mimosa, chestnut and animal fats.

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