Cuts of Leather

Miriam Schlabach |

Choosing the Right Cut of Leather

When choosing the right cut of keep these two practices in mind.

  1. A tannery sells a whole hide or cuts it down into smaller sections.

  2. Hides are cut for affordability or because of waste (yield to the end users) to the production shop.

Crafter’s Considerations

  1. Budget is a consideration when purchasing a cut of leather.

  2. What will a crafter’s work space accomodate?

  3. As long as a crafter gets a quality cut of leather, a smaller cut is more affordable and easier to work with in their shop.

Leather Cuts

Whole Hide or Hide

  1. Contains 45 sq. ft. up to 50 sq. ft. of leather.

  2. Measures approximately 8.50 ft long by appro. 8 ft. wide.

  3. Typically, whole hides come in chrome tan because of need for the garment and upholstery users. Larger panels are cut for sofas, chairs, etc.

Half of a Hide

  1. Contains approximately 24 sq. ft. of leather.

  2. It is a big piece of leather if you have a small work space.

  3. When buying smaller cuts you will be paying more per square foot. The value comes when you pay a little bit more to have a piece of leather that is manageable in your work space.

Double Shoulder

  1. Measures approximately 14 sq. ft.

  2. It is a cut that has both of the shoulder blades on the hide.

  3. Belt makers like the double shoulder cut because you can cut across the hide instead of lengthwise.

Single Shoulder

  1. A single shoulder is a double shoulder cut in half.

  2. It is a very affordable piece of leather.

  3. All manner of projects are created from single shoulders.


  1. Makes a great piece of leather for people who are new at leathercrafting because of the ample amount of leather and affordability.

  2. It is trimmed off of a side and it is the least preferable piece for a production shop but great for the leathercrafter.

Leather pieces more common to production shops:

Single Bend

  1. Has the belly and part of the shoulder cut off.

  2. The leather is high yield, low waste.

  3. Measures approximately 30” across and 60” in length.

  4. Great for belts.

Double Bend

  1. Measures approximately 60″ wide.

  2. Great for production shops.

Single Back

  1. Measures approximately 18 – 20 sq. ft.

  2. Width is 28″ – 30″

  3. Length 85” – 110”

  4. Yield and efficiency

Double Back

  1. Measures approximately 36 – 42 sq. ft.

  2. Width is 55” – 60”

  3. Length 85” – 100”

  4. Yield and efficiency

Leather crafters, as long as you start with a quality leather the cut is more dependent on your budget and your workspace.

Veg tan is always more expensive than chrome tan because it takes longer to tan a hide with the veg tan process.

Learn more about: Leather Cuts here