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Leather Education

Get to Know Leather with Tandy’s Extensive Library of Leathercraft Knowledge
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Leather Buying Guide

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Leathercraft Fundamentals

  • Moistening Leather

    Leather is moistened by rubbing a damp sponge on it.

  • Using Craftool Stamps

    Enhance the beauty of your leather projects with Craftool stamps.

  • Applying Finish to Leather

    Leather finishes are applied to protect the leather and preserve the qualities and appearance.

  • How to Lace

    Lacing puts the finishing touch to handmade leather articles.

  • Running Stitch

    The amount of lace needed for the running stitch is 1-1/2 times the distance to be laced.

  • How to Whipstitch

    Learn two different techniques on how to whipstitch.

  • Hand Stitching

    The amount of thread required for Hand Stitching is about 3 times the distance to be stitched.

  • Braiding 101

    Learn several techniques on how to braid.

The Language of Leathercraft

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  • Aniline Dyed

    Leather that is dyed all the way through with a transparent dye. Because the finish is transparent and shows the natural markings of the leather, only the best quality hides can be used.

  • Armor Leather

    Heavy veg-tan leather used for shoe soles and for protective armor by historical re-enactors.

  • Bark Tanned

    Also known as vegetable tanned. Leather tanned by the tannins extracted from the bark of trees.

  • Belly Cut (snake)

    Snakeskins that are cut on the underneath so the tanned skin shows the snake’s normally visible pattern.

  • Chrome Free

    Also known as Aldehydetanned leather, this is the leather that most tanners refer to as wet-white leather due to its pale cream or white color. Used in infant’s shoes and automobiles.

  • Chrome Tanned

    This process uses soluble chromium salts, primarily chromium sulfate, to tan leather. Most commonly used for garments, footwear and upholstery.

  • Crust

    Leather that has been tanned, dyed and dried, but not finished.

  • Distressed

    Leather that is aniline dyed with one color over another (usually darker over lighter) so as to create rich highlights and an artificial aged appearance. This finishing process is intended to emphasize the characteristics of the hide such as scars, scratches and wrinkles. Also called “antiqued leather”.

  • Drum Dyed

    The process of coloring leather by tumbling it in a rotating drum immersed in dye to allow maximum dye penetration.

  • Embossed Leather

    Leather that has been “stamped” with a design or artificial texture under very high pressure. Our embossed leathers have textures of ostrich and gator.

  • Flesh Side

    The underside of the animal’s hide. When looking at a piece of veg-tanned tooling leather, this will be the rough side.

  • Full Grain

    Leather which has not been altered beyond hair removal. It is the most genuine of leathers, retaining all of the hide’s original texture and markings. The hide’s best, strongest and most durable layer.

  • Good Hand

    A soft, supple leather that feels good to the hand.

  • Grain Side

    This is the hide’s surface that had the hair of the animal. The grain side is used for leather carving and stamping by leathercrafters.

  • Hair Cell Grain

    Noticeable appearance of where the hair pores were on the leather.

  • Kidskin

    Soft leather made from the skin of a young goat.

  • Latigo

    Cowhide leather tanned for outdoor use. Utilized for cinches, ties, and other saddlery work and for army accoutrements.

  • Milled

    During the tanning process, the leather is tumbled in a large drum shaped container to make it softer.

  • Nubuck

    Leather buffed on the grain side to give a velvety surface.

  • Oil Tanned

    Leather that is tanned using oils to create a very soft, pliable finish.

  • Patina

    The aura or luster that develops in leather as it ages with use.

  • Pebble Grain

    A cosmetic character resembling small pebbles on the leather’s top side.

  • Printed Leather

    Leather that has been “stamped” with a design or artificial texture under very high pressure.

  • Pull-Up Finish

    Describes the behavior of leather that has been treated with oils, waxes and dyes in such a way that when pulled or stretched, the finish becomes lighter in the those areas. Considered a mark of high quality.

  • Rawhide

    Hides that have only been dehaired and cured but not tanned.

  • Semi-Aniline

    Aniline leather that has a matching pigment layer added to even out the color and add protection.

  • Shearling

    A sheepskin or lambskin that has gone through a limited shearing process to obtain a uniform depth of the wool fibers. They can be tanned with either a veg-tan method, normally used for saddles and outdoor gear, or with a chrome method, normally used for garments.

  • Side

    Leather tanned from one half, or “side” of a full hide.

  • Skirting

    Sides from cattle that are left in their heaviest form for use with saddle making and re-enactment armor.

  • Splits

    Leather made from the lower (inner or flesh side) layers of a hide that have been split away from the upper, or grain layers. Split leather is not as durable as full grain leather and is normally used as suede.

  • Suede

    Leather that has been buffed and brushed for a more attractive surface.

  • Temper

    A characteristic of leathers defined by pliability/softness.

  • Tooling Calf

    Normally, a very lightweight veg-tanned leather with a very clean appearance.

  • Top Grain

    Usually refers to a process of sanding away the natural grain from a leather’s top surface. Imitation grain gets stamped into the leather for a more uniform look.

  • Veg-Tanned

    A method of hide tanning which utilizes materials from organic materials such as bark instead of the traditional chemicals. This is the method utilized when tanning tooling leathers.

  • Veg-Splits

    Veg-tanned leather that has been split with both sides having a fleshy feel. Cannot be tooled.

  • Waxy Hand

    An upholstery or handbag leather that has a waxy feel and look to it.

  • Weight

    A term which describes the thickness of leather in ounces. One ounce equals 1/64th (0.4 mm) of an inch in thickness. See the chart below.

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