Glossary of Leather Terms
Aniline: Leather that is colored all the way through with a transparent dye. The effect is applied by immersing the leather in a dye bath. Because the finish is transparent and shows the natural markings of the leather, only the best quality hides can be used.
Antiqued or distressed: Leather that is dyed with one color over another (usually darker over lighter) so as to create rich highlights and an artificial aged appearance. It is also called distressed leather.
Bark Tanned: A surface appearance of something grown beautiful, especially with age or use; an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character
Bonded Leather: Bonded, reconstituted leather or blended leather is a pulp made from shredded leather and a polyurethane coating, which is embossed with a leather-like texture. is an economical material that uses leftover organic leather (from tanneries or workshops) that are shredded and bonded together with polyurethane or latex on to a fiber sheet
Buffing: Process used to minimize surface imperfections, creates a more uniform skin appearance.
Corrected Grain: Leather that has been buffed to remove blemishes, then covered with a new, artificial grain created using pigments and other finishes.
Crocking: Removing the crock, or excess coloring, that rubs off of a newly-dyed hide
Crust: Leather which has been tanned (treated to become nonperishable) but not colored or otherwise finished.
Drum Dying: The process of coloring leather by tumbling it in a rotating drum immersed in dye. This is a very effective method allowing maximum dye penetration.
Embossed Leather: Leather that has been “stamped” with a design or artificial texture under very high pressure. It is used, for example, to create imitation alligator hide.
Faux Leather: A variety of materials that have been made to resemble leather. The great bulk of these are vinyl, rubber or plastic-coated fabrics.
Finish: Any enhancing effect applied to leather after it has been tanned. Examples are dyeing, embossing, buffing, antiquing, waxing, waterproofing, and so on.
Full Grain Leather: Leather that has not been altered beyond hair removal. Full grain leather is the most genuine type of leather, as it retains all of the original texture and markings of the original hide.
Glazed Leather: Aniline-dyed leather, which has been polished to a high luster by passing through glass or steel rollers under great pressure.
Glove Leather: Lambskin or other very soft leather typically used for gloves.
Grain: A word used to describe the natural characteristics of an unprocessed hide, such as its pores, wrinkles, markings, and texture.
Hand: A word used to describe the feel (i.e. softness or fullness) of leather.
Hair on Hide: Leather tanned without removing the hair from the skin or hide.
Leather bend: Heavyweight vegetable-tanned leather used for sole, belting, strap and mechanical leathers made from unsplit cattle hides
Lining Leather: Lightweight Leather used for shoes, wallets, bags, and bookbinding and much more. These leathers include Swine, Sheep, Lamb, Cow, Goat, or suede.
Milling: Process in which tanned hides are tumbled in rotating drums using a combination of heat and a misting of water to soften the hand or enhance the grain.
Naked: Leather with no surface impregnated treatment of finish other than dye matter, which might mask or alter the natural state of the leather. Usually reserved for the finest quality skins.
Nap: Describes the soft, “fuzzy” effect achieved in leather by buffing or brushing.
Natural Grain: Leather that displays its original grain.
Nubuck Leather: Top Grain Leather whose surface has been buffed and brushed to create a soft, velvety effect. Differs from suede in that while suede is created from the flesh (inner) side of a hide, nubuck is created using the grain (outer) side, giving it added strength and durability. You chose this leather because of its natural beauty, soft hand and luxurious feel. Through years of experience, we have developed unique ways to maintain and protect these naturally tanned leathers. The lack of a coated finish requires special attention.
Oil Tanned: Leather that is tanned using oils to create a very soft, pliable finish.
Patent Leather: Leather with a glossy impermeable finish produced by successive coats of drying oils, varnish, or synthetic resins.
Patina: The aura or luster that develops in a quality piece of leather with age.
Pelt: A raw skin with the hair. Usually refers to fur animals.
Perforated: Leather in which a pattern of small holes is stamped using a die.
Pigmented Leather: Leather that has been coated with a flat surface color on top of or instead of the usual dye finish. The leather is usually pigmented to add durability and hide natural blemishes.
Plating: The process of pressing leather under a heated plate. Often used in upholstery leather to mask imperfections.
Pull-up: Describes the behavior of leather that has been treated with oils, waxes, and dyes in such a way that when the leather is pulled or stretched the finish becomes lighter in the stretched areas. It is considered a mark of high quality.
Retannage: A second finish added over an underlying tannage.
Semi-Aniline: Aniline leather to which a matching pigment layer is added to even out the color and add protection.
Shoulder Leather: The thickest part of the hide from the shoulder area of the cow.
Shrunken Grain Leather: A full, natural-grain leather, which is shrunken to enlarge and enhance the grain of the leather.
Side Leather: Leather made from one-half, or “side,” of a full hide. Typically refers to leather whose top grain (outermost layer) has been left intact.
Snuffed: The grain surface is abraded with brushes, emery wheel or sandpaper. Leather is snuffed for purpose of removing defective grain, or for sueding the surface of the leather.
Suede: Split leather that has been buffed and brushed to create a fuzzy surface feel.
Split Leather: 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 more fragile than side leather or full-grain leather, and is typically used in the form of suede.
Top Grain: Leather whose top (outermost) layers have been left intact, in contrast to split leather.
Two-tone: An effect created by applying layers of similar or contrasting dyes to a piece of leather in order to create a mottled or aged appearance. Antiqued and Savage leathers are examples of two-tone leathers.
Vachetta leather: Is used in the trimmings of luggage and handbags. The leather is left untreated, is therefore susceptible to water, and stains. Sunlight makes the natural leather darken in shade (develop a patina).
Vegetable Tanning: A method of hide tanning which utilizes materials from organic materials such as bark instead of the traditional chemicals. Vegetable tanned leather has greater body and firmness than traditionally tanned leather.
Weight: A term, which describes the heaviness or thickness of leather. This is typically given in ounces per square foot or millimeters (thickness).
Whole Hide: Refers to leather created using a full hide, as opposed to a side, which averages 45-55 square feet.