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 are listed here in alphabetical order. We have marked with an asterisk (*) those leathers that we regularly use and generally have on hand for a variety of projects. 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 slight variations of the main tannages described above like chrome oil tanned, veg chrome retanned and chrome veg retanned. Chrome oil tanned leather is simply chrome tanned (as described above) but is also treated with an oil that helps preserve the leather. Veg chrome retanned leather is vegetable tanned (as described above) and retanned in chromium salts. Chrome veg retanned leather is chrome tanned (as described above) and then vegetable tanned.
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
- Apron Split: Chrome tanned
- Soft, durable leather that has been split to expose the underneath layer. Without a natural grain, it is then sueded and dyed a pearl gray.
- Ideal For: Farrier Aprons.
- *Bellies: Vegetable tanned
- Feature softer, looser fibers than the top (towards the spine) part of the hide. Ideal for linings as well as crafting smaller items.
- Ideal for: Linings, dog collars and knife sheaths.
- *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.
- *Chrome Oil Tanned: Chrome tanned
- Beautiful, durable leather has just the right amount of oil for a soft, supple feel.
- Ideal for: Work chaps, saddle bags and linings.
- *Deer: Chrome tanned
- Very supple, beautiful quality leather. Perfect for use on any project where softness is needed.
- Ideal for: Gloves, pouches and garments.
- Garment: Chrome tanned
- Beautiful leather is soft and supple and available in many colors.
- Ideal for: Garments, chaps and upholstery.
- *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.
- Nubuck: Chrome tanned
- Buffed on the top grain with oil to produce "nap" for a matte, sueded look.
- Ideal for: Saddle seats and pouches.
- Patent: Chrome or Vegetable tanned
- Heavily finished leather with a highly lustrous baked enamel appearance.
- Ideal for: Show harnesses, bridle blinds and housings.
- 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.
- *Shoulders: Vegetable tanned
- This cut effectively utilizes the head and neck area for minimal waste and optimum use. Great cut for belt manufacturers.
- Ideal for: Belts and craft items.
- Sole Bends: Vegetable tanned
- Taken from the best portion of the hide, this extra thick leather features a firm (hard) tannage designed especially for shoe soles.
- Ideal for: Shoe soles and weight lifting belts.
- *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.
- Soft, supple leather is very strong and durable. Tanned in whole hides for little waste and for use in automotive and restoration upholstery where large pieces of leather are desirable. Great for all upholstery needs.
- Ideal for: Upholstery.
- *Veg Chrome Retanned: Veg chrome retanned
- Firm, yet pliable piece of leather with a nice satin finish. Formerly also known as suspender leather.
- Ideal for: Suspenders, pouches and name tags.
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