Leather Terminology

Alum Tanned - Leather produced by alum tannage, usually in combination with other substances not in sufficient amounts to alter the alum tanned character of the leather.

Aniline Dyed Finish– Leather that has been colored by dyes as distinguished from leather treated with pigments or other opaque material. This lets the natural beauty and character of the leather shine through.

Bellies – Part of the hide from the underside of the animal.

Belt Blanks – Pre-cut belt blanks ready to be customized with your selection of hardware and custom touches. Available in natural strap leather, English bridle leather, water buffalo leather or Brahma Webb® coated webbing.

Bends – A "back" with the shoulders trimmed off.

Bleaching – Removing oxidized tannins and insoluble materials from leather to prevent crackiness in the grain and improve color.

Branded – Hides featuring one or more brands which are marks made with a hot iron on a cow’s skin to indicate ownership. Brands add unique character and may be desirable depending on your project.

Bridle – Firm, rich-colored harness-finished strap leather with enough oils to withstand weather.

Carving – Decorative cuts applied to the grain side of dampened leather to outline a pattern that can be embellished with stamping, tooling and modelling to give a three-dimensional appearance.

Chrome Oil Tanned – Tanned with chromium compounds and treated with oil that helps preserve the leather.

Chrome Tanned – Tannage of leather with soluble chromium salts, primarily chromium sulfate. Small amounts of another tanning agent may be added, but not in amounts sufficient to change the chrome tanned character of the leather.

Chrome Veg Retanned – Leather that has been chrome tanned and then retanned with vegetable extracts.

Colorfast – Indicates a material’s resistance to fading and color transfer. Some leathers have a top finish that discourages color transfer, but no leather is considered 100% colorfast, depending on the elements it is exposed to.

Cutting Services – Timesaving services like strap cutting, lace cutting, and edging performed by our professional craftspeople.

Deerskin – Leather tanned from deerskin with the grain side left intact. When the grain is removed, it is then known as buckskin.

Distressed – This leather comes in a myriad of colors and pull-up finishes that add character and vintage style to your project. It’s tanned specifically to exhibit a distressed look reminiscent of leather that has aged beautifully with time and use.

Domestic Hides– Hides originating from the United States.

Drum Dyed- Leather is immersed in dye before tumbling it in a drum to maximize dye penetration.

Embossing – A texture or pattern imprinted on the surface of leather by the tannery. In leather work, it refers to embellishing leather by exerting pressure on the flesh side so a design stands out in relief.

English Bridle – Strong, waxy and weather resistant, this leather tanned exclusively for Weaver Leather using U.S. steer hides was developed by our team to be as close to bridle leather made in England as possible.

Finished Strap – Leather finished with a rich, deep color and a top coat that eliminates the need to dye your project.

Flesh Side – The inner side of a hide or skin.

Full Grain – Leather taken from the top layer of the hide that includes all its natural grain.

Garment – Soft, supple leather provides the right amount of drape for garments. A semi-transparent aniline dye adds depth to the color while allowing you to see the natural grain of the leather.

Grain Side – The outer side of a hide or skin. Also the pattern of the outer surface after the hair or wool have been removed.

Hair-on Hides – Leather tanned without removing the hair from the skins or hide.

Hand – A leather industry term indicating a leather’s feel (i.e. soft, supple).

Harness– Stuffed with heavy tallows, harness leather offers exceptional weight, thickness, ease of cutting and durability. Its self-explanatory name sometimes expands to include collar and saddlery leathers. All harness leathers are generally made from vegetable tanned cattlehides.

Holster – Tanned specifically to form and mold easily and retain the shape you create, this leather is great for holsters, knife sheaths, pouches and more.

Hot Stuffed - Hot stuffing is a process that dates back hundreds of years. The tanner utilizes heat to stuff the leather with a blend of natural waxes and tallows to impregnate it to the core ensuring a supple, weather-resistant finish. Hot stuffed leathers may bloom, or develop a cloudy, hazy look as the oils come to the surface. This bloom can be easily buffed away or will wear away as the item created from this leather is used.

Kangaroo – Made from the hide of the Australian kangaroo or wallaby, usually chrome tanned with a glazed finish. Resembles glazed calfskin in appearance, but the grain of kangaroo is much finer than most glazed calfskin. It is stronger, weight for weight, than any other leather.

Kipskin– Skin from an animal of bovine species between the size of a calf and a mature animal. This term includes skins from calves that have grown larger than the size usually slaughtered for veal.

Latigo/Alum Tanned – Cattlehide leather, sometimes alum and vegetable tanned, used for cinches, ties, saddle strings and other saddlery work.

Leather Pieces – Smaller pieces of leather perfect for smaller projects and repairs.

Milled– Hides are "milled" or tumbled in drums, increasing suppleness and pliability.

Modelling – A design impressed in low relief without cutting.

Molding – Shaping wet leather to create a three-dimensional design.

Nap – A process in which the natural grain layer of the leather is removed and the outer surface of the leather is then given a napped finish. See also "suede."

Natural Strap/Tooling - Characteristics of this leather make it ideal for tooling, embossing, molding, dyeing and oiling. It will uniformly absorb dyes and oils and dry to a formed, long-lasting shape if desired.

Nubuck – Buffed on the top grain with an oil to produce a subtle "nap" for a matte, sueded look.

Oil Tan – The process of tanning with animal oils, which is used in the manufacture of certain soft leathers, particularly chamois, and certain kinds of buckskins. Fish oil is generally used.

Pasted Back – The tannery applies a paste mixture to the flesh side to produce a smooth, waxy finish.

Patent – Leather with a finish that is mirror-like, flexible and waterproof. Also leather of this appearance made by film lamination.
Patina – The unique character leather develops over time as it is exposed to the elements, regular use, and oils from the skin. A look that is coveted by many, some new leathers are finished by the tannery to mimic this effect.

Pebble Grain – An embossed leather grain finish resembling a pebbled surface.

Pigment – Leather coated with a material containing pigment or other opaque substance.

Pile – Refers to the thickness of the wool on our sheepskin and shearling rugs.

Piping – Creasing or wrinkling that appears on the grain side of leather after it is bent.

Pre-Cut Fringe– Precisely-cut from our Suede Chap Splits, this fringe is an easy way to add a special touch to clothing, bags, chaps, accessories and more.

Pull-Up Leather – The tannery applies a base dye before layering additional dyes and oils to achieve a uniform, darker look. As this leather is handled and the final product undergoes regular use, the character of the base dye is revealed and a well-worn finish emerges.

Rawhide – Cattlehide that has been dehaired and limed, often stuffed with oil or grease, and has sometimes undergone other prepatory processes, but has not been tanned. Rawhide is used principally for mechanical purposes, for belt lacings and pins, loom pickers, gaskets, pinions, gears and also for trunk binding, luggage, etc.

Shearlings/Sheepskin – Made from short wooled sheep or lambskins that have been sheared before slaughter with the wool left on during the tanning process. Ideal for garments, slippers and linings.

Shoulders – The part of the hide between the neck and the main body.

Side – Half a hide cut longitudinally or down the spine.

Skirting – A specialized cattlehide leather used for skirts or hanging portions of saddles that come between the legs of a rider and a horse. It molds and forms to seat, readily accepts tooling or embossing, and oils and dyes evenly for a uniform appearance.

Skived – Cutting off a thin layer to bring it to uniform thickness.

Sole Bends – Made mainly from cattlehides in heavier grades used for shoe soles and in lighter grades used for heels, insoles, toecaps and counters.

Spew – A portion of the oily constituents of leather that comes to the grain surface in the form of white crystallized or dark gummy deposits. Sometimes spelled as spue.

Splits – A term used to describe the under portion of the hide or skin, split into two or more thicknesses.

Stamping – Also known as tooling, stamping is a process used to adorn a leather’s surface with decorative designs using stamping tools.

Struck-Through – Drum dyed leather that is left in the drum long enough for the dye to penetrate all the way through the leather.

Suede/Splits – Made from leather’s inner splits, suede is sanded to separate the fibers to produce suede’s trademark "nap." While it’s possible for the grain side to be suede finished, it’s more common for the flesh side to receive this treatment. The term suede refers to a finish, not a particular type of leather.

Synthetic Fleece – Genuine sheep’s wool on a synthetic backer. It’s consistent shape offers little to no waste.

Tannery Run – A standard method of buying leather that consists of 25% A grade, 50% B grade and 25% C grade.

Tooling – Another term for stamping.

Top Grain – Grain leather from which the hair and natural grain have been sanded away. The leather is then stamped with an imitation grain for a consistent finish.

Upholstery – Leather generally used for furniture and airplane, bus and automobile seats. Large cattle hides are split at least once and sometimes two or three times. Generally, top cuts go into higher grades and splits into lower grades.

Veg Chrome Retanned – Firm, pliable leather with a nice satin finish. It is first vegetable tanned and then retanned in chromium salts.

Vegetable Tanned – The process of making leather by the use of tannins obtained from barks, woods or other parts of plants and trees, as distinguished from "mineral tannages." Also referred to as veg tanned leather, it is prized by leather artisans for its exceptional beauty and workability.

Weight – Denoted in ounces with one ounce equaling 1/64" (.016 decimal inch) in thickness. One square foot of a 3 oz. leather will weigh 3 oz. This unit of measure is derived from one square foot of leather having a uniform thickness for its weight. Europe generally refers to leather in millimeters and one ounce converts to .41 mm. For easy measuring, we recommend investing in a gauge like this one that displays thickness in both ounces and millimeters.

Water Buffalo – Leather tanned from the domesticated water buffalo of the Far East (not the American bison).