Leather Tutorial

Thanks for visiting our leather tutorial. Hopefully, the information you find here will help you make some decisions about which type of leather is best and right for your product or project. The leather types we regularly use are listed here in alphabetical order. However, we can and are glad to order from the tanneries any type of leather that you think will be right for your needs.


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. There are also many slight variations of the main tannages described above.

Chrome tanned and alum tanned leathers are generally dyed during the tanning process and are available in a huge variety of colors. Vegetable tanned leather is usually left the natural flesh color to be stained or dyed after carving, tooling, stamping or embossing is complete.

Types of Leather

Bridle: Vegetable tanned
Firm rich-colored leather with enough oils to withstand weather. Beautiful, great feeling leather, can be oiled for darker hues.
Ideal for:Tack items and fine pet products.
Bridle, Premium English: Vegetable tanned
Authentic "English" bridle leather. Made from heavy native steer hides and drum dyed for deep, consistent colors with waxes and tallows. Hot stuffed with just the right amount of "spew" on the grain and flesh to have that English feel.
Ideal for: English tack, belts and pet products.
Deer: Chrome tanned
Very supple, beautiful quality leather. Perfect for use on any project where softness is needed.
Ideal for: Gloves, pouches and garments.
Elk: Chrome tanned
Very supple, beautiful quality leather. Perfect for use on any project where softness is needed. Usually heavier than deer.
Ideal for: Gloves, pouches and garments.
Harness: Vegetable tanned
Beautiful leather stuffed with heavy tallows for exceptional weight, thickness, ease of cutting and durability. Harness leather is soft and supple, yet holds its shape very well.
Ideal for: Work or show harnesses and saddlery.
Kangaroo Lace: Alum tanned
Firm non-stretching leather to be used where strength is essential.
Ideal for: Laces, linings, saddles and accessories.
Latigo: Chrome veg tanned
Soft, supple leather great for use on products where strength and flexibility are needed. This is a very supple leather usually with a slightly oily texture. This leather is often referred to as harness leather but there is a distinct difference. See harness leather above.
Ideal for: Tack, saddlery and pet products.
Natural Strap, Tooling and Molding: Vegetable tanned
Leather for tooling, embossing, moulding, dying and oiling. Dyes and oils are uniformly absorbed by the leather's open grain structure. A different oil content eases moulding around sharp corners. Dries to a firm, long-lasting shape.
Ideal for: Lightweight saddlery goods, personal goods including wallets, purses and holsters.
Rawhide: Untanned
Strong, firm untanned cattle hide.
Ideal for: Saddle horns and covered stirrups.
Saddle Skirting: Vegetable tanned
Moulds and forms to seat, readily accepts tooling or embossing and oils and dyes evenly for a beautiful, uniform appearance.
Ideal for: Saddles, tooled and embossed products.
Shearlings: Vegetable or Chrome tanned
Beautiful quality rich golden sheepskin. Measures 3/4"-1" thick. Comes in many colors.
Ideal for: Saddles, linings and padding.
Suede: Chrome tanned
Finished by buffing the flesh side (opposite the grain side) to produce a "nap".
Ideal for: Show or work chaps, linings and garments.