Glossary of Leather | Dictionary Of Leather Terminology

 

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.

BASEBALL LEATHER -
This is the leather that covers the outside of a baseball – according to the Official Baseball Rules, “two strips of white horsehide or cowhide, tightly stitched together”.

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.

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.

BUFFING

The process of removing/sanding the top grain layer via an abrasive or bladed cylinder often carried out by a machine.

 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.

CASE LEATHERING

A general term used to describe the leather used in travel bags and suitcases.

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 that has been tanned using chromium salts and/or chromium sulphates to make the leather soft and supple and also to prevent discolouration.

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.

CORRECTED GRAIN LEATHER

Corrected grain refers to the hide having its top grain layer sanded down to minimise flaws. It is then pigmented and embossed with an artificial grain and sprayed with a sealer topcoat. 

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

Hides are placed into a large drum with dyes and then tumbled. This allows for full dye penetration into the leather fibres.

EMBOSSED LEATHER

A term usually used in regards to corrected grain, it is a pattern or artificial grain to mimic the characteristics of full grain leather or another kind of layer, e.g. alligator skin.

EMBOSSED (FANCY)

A fancy or geometric pattern that is pressed into the leather

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

The surface or coating applied on the leather to colour, protect or mask imperfections. This is a general term for all processes that happen after the leather has been tanned.

FULL HAND -
Also referred to as “round hand”, full hand describes leather that is full-bodied, for example, some combination tanned leathers.

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

The grain, in terms of leather, is the outside or the skin/hide that has the pores, wrinkles, marks, etc. These make up the organic texture of the leather.

GRAIN CHARACTER

The character of the grain is the markings and natural texture on the surface of the leather.

 GRAIN SPLIT

The outer layer of the hide that has been split into multiple layers

GRAIN SUEDED

Also known as “snuffing”, this is the process of abrading the grain side of the hide to achieve a buffed or suede texture. 

GRAIN, EMBOSSED

Grain, or leather, which has been embossed with a pattern or artificial grain

GRAINED LEATHER

Leather that has had its natural grain altered or changed in the process of making it e.g. Corrected or Top Grain

HAND -
A term used to describe the texture/feel of leather e.g. softness or fullness.

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

HEAVY LEATHER - 

A broad term used to describe leather made from unsplit cattle hides; this includes belting and mechanical leathers. 

HEIFER

A young female bovine that has not birthed a calf

IMITATION 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.

LEATHER

A material made from the skins/hides of animals, most commonly cattle.

LEATHERETTE

Leatherette is another term used to describe man-made or imitation leather.

LEATHERY

A word used to describe the feeling of leather or something that feels like leather.

LIMING

This is the process in which hides are soaked in an alkaline solution to remove interfibrillar proteins. 

MATTE/MATT FINISH

A matte finish has a flat or dull appearance as opposed to a surface that is shiny or glossy.

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.

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 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

The original grain on the surface that has been kept on the leather

NUBUCK LEATHER -

Similar to suede but of a higher quality; it is buffed or brushed on the grain side to create a velvety, napped surface.

OAK TANNED

Leather was originally tanned almost entirely with oak bark, the term was later used to also describe tanning with a blend containing oak tannin.

OIL TANNED

Certain fish oils may be used to tan the leather, resulting in very soft, pliable leather, like chamois.

PATENT LEATHER

Leather that has been given a really glossy finish to give it a shiny, lustrous surface

PATINA

A patina is the sheen and change in colour that forms after time and use of a leather product. 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

This is the process of die cutting small holes to create a pattern; the holes and patterns can vary in size and density.

PIGMENTED

Pigmented leather is finished with a solid pigment 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

PRODUCTION RUN

Production run leather is cheaper, ungraded leather which is sold to manufacturers to use in upholstery.

PROTECTED LEATHER

Leather that has been treated with special chemicals to render it less liable to damage and/or deterioration via exposure to polluted atmospheres.

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.

PURE ANILINE

Also known as “full aniline”, “naked aniline” or “naked leather”, pure aniline leather is aniline dyed and receives no additional colouring or treatment.

RAWHIDE

Raw hides are only treated to preserve them, or stop them from decomposing, before tanning.

RECONSTITUTED LEATHER

Also known as “bonded leather”, reconstituted leather is made from scrap leather or leather fibres that are glued together with polyurethane.

RETAN

A secondary or additional tannage that is applied after the first tanning process using similar or other tanning materials 

ROUND HAND

Another way to describe “full hand” leather, round hand leather is leather that is full bodied e.g. some combination tanned leathers.

SADDLE LEATHER

Leather used to make saddles and harnesses made from vegetable tanned cattle hide, usually a natural tan colour and fairly flexible 

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.

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

Leather, which has been specifically tanned in order to shrink the grain layer and give the grain surface uneven folds; it is another way to say “drawn grain”.

SIDE LEATHER

This is a piece of grain leather which has been cut in half, in order to form the two sides, to accommodate tanning equipment more efficiently.

SKIVE

A term used to describe splitting or slicing the leather into a thin layer – commonly done with goatskin or calfskin.

SNUFFED LEATHER

Usually done through the process of abrasion, if leather is snuffed it means that it has had its top surface removed.

SPLIT LEATHER (SPLIT)

A split is a single layer that has been separated from the whole hide. For example, the grain split, used to make full grain and top grain leather, comes from the outer split or the outer layer of the hide. The inner split is trimmed and finished as suede or genuine leather.


SPLITTING -
Cutting leather into multiple layers or into side leather prior the tanning process

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

Used for industrial purposes, similar to belting leather, strap leather is heavyweight, thick and stiff due to its specific tanning process.

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 the fibres on the hide to create a velvety texture, this is also called the napping process.

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 and are cheaply sold to manufacturers

TANNIN

Tannin is a general term for any products and solvents used in the tanning process.

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.

TRIM

Removal of parts of the hide, which aren’t suitable for making leather, for example, the outer edges


UNFINISHED LEATHER

Often used in reference to naked or aniline dyed leathers, which have been given no additional treatment or application to finish or colour the leather in a way that would alter the natural characteristics or appearance.

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 the leather is measured in ounces per square foot.

WET BLUE LEATHER

Leather that has been chrome tanned and given no further processing is left with a pale blue colour due to the chromium. Leather sold in this condition is known as “wet blue”.

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.

 

 

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