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Leathercrafting Glossary and Terms

Leathercrafting Glossary and Terms

The art of Leathercrafting has been around through many generations and exists in many cultures. Check out our ever evolving "Leather Glossary Guide - Learning the Lingo" to master some of the common (and uncommon!) jargon used. Be sure to bookmark this page as we'll be making updates, and drop a comment if there is something missing!

Aniline leather: the term "aniline" actually refers to the dyes that are used in making the final product; it is a colorless, oily dye synthetically produced from coal tar products

Antique: a family of colorants used as a surface treatment on leathers to enhance color, promote an aged look and bring depth to carving and stamping

Bonded leather: this type of leather is actually a leather composite, comprised of leather scraps that are shredded, mixed with an adhesive and pressed into sheets; this can still carry the "leather" title, but be as little as 20% actual leather product and thusly is considered one of the lowest qualities possible

Casing: the process of adding water to to vegetable-tanned leather, a precursor to stamping and tooling of any kind

Chrome-tan: leather tanned using chromium salts and/or other tanning agents to make the leather supple, soft, and varied in color

Dyes and stains: chemical colorant treatment meant to penetrate, accentuate and permanently alter the color of tanned leather

Embossed leather: leather that has been artificially altered with patterns to mimic full grain leathers like alligator or lizard

Fat wrinkles: a characteristic unique to leather that are formed by fat deposits from the animal; these markings are not found in faux leathers and can be a clear indicator of authenticity

Full grain leather: one of the most highly valued leathers, it is the outermost layer that has not be altered or corrected, with only the hair removed; it is durable and well sought out

Glazed leather: a high gloss, smooth finish made by polishing leather with glass or steel under high pressure 

Grain: outer part of hide with wrinkles, pores, marks and other natural characteristics 

Hide: the pelt of an animal that has been treated for human use

Latigo: a combination tannage leather that is both chrome-tan and veg-tan that is frequently used in tack

Milled: leather that has been tumbled in large machines in order to soften and relax the fibers

Nubuck: top grain leather that has been brushed to produce a soft, fuzzy texture that remains durable and long lasting

Oil-tanned leather: despite the term, this is leather that has had oil added to the hide after tanning; tends to be more supple even than chrome tans, is well hydrated and tends to be more water and dirt resistant 

Patina: the way leather naturally ages, changing colors and adopting a sheen that adds character and beauty over time

Pull-up leather: finished leather treated with oils, waxes and dyes that lightens in color when pulled or stretched

Rawhide: a type of leather that has not been tanned, but rather preserved

Shearling: a type of hair-on hide from freshly shorn sheep or or lamb

Skive: the act of using tools to thin leather in certain areas to desired thickness

Split-grain leather: the interior cuts of leather after the top grain has been removed; considered a low quality cut

Suede: a type of split leather, with a similar texture to nubuck

Tanning: the process by which rawhides are are processed and converted to finished hides

Temper or hand: refers to the pliability of finished leathers; can be stiff or supple and everything in between

Top-grain leather: type of leather that has been sanded and buffed to remove imperfections, making it smoother and more uniform in texture

Veg-tan/vegetable tan: conversion of rawhide into leather through vegetable-based tanning agents or extracts to enhance or modify the hide; the only leather that can be stamped, tooled and wet formed by hand

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