There are so many leatherworking terms out there...

Below is a list that should help with leatherworking terms and phrases. If you're still uncertain about specific leatherwork terminology, feel free to contact us!

Leather Glossary

– Types:
Toluene based cements, poly-vinyl acetate, white glue, hide glue, and rubber cement.

Aniline Finish
– A process of coloring skins, without a top finish.  Only dyes are used to achieve the coloration. This process can only be used on the finest quality skins as all surface blemishes remain apparent.

Apron Splits
– 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. Chrome tanned. Ideal for farrier aprons.

– The main portion of a hide, obtained by cutting off the two bellies.

– Feature softer, looser fibers than the top part of the hide. Vegetable tanned. Ideal for linings, dog collars, and knife sheaths.

Bi-Cast Leather
– Bicast leather is made from split leather which is then laminated with a polyethylene top layer. It has been made available thanks to modern technology, which lets leather be split into a number of layers, at a reduced cost compared to natural leather. The layers used to make bicast leather are of very inferior quality, which, without the coating, may not be of any use at all.

– Soft, supple leather.  It has a lot of grain, texture, and character.  Chrome tanned.  Ideal for mitts, bags, moccasins, and pouches.

Bonded Leather
– Also known as reconstituted leather is a term used for partially synthetic leather. It is a synthetic material made of varying types of plastic (generally polyurethane or vinyl) that may be spread over ground-up leather and other substances, mechanically processed to give the appearance of leather, but at reduced cost and with less wastage compared to natural leather.  Examples of products that are most commonly constructed with different varieties of “bonded leather” are: books, diaries, art books, desk accessories, bags, belts, chairs, and sofas.

– Firm, rich-coloured leather with enough oils to withstand weather. Great feeling leather, which can be oiled for darker hues. Vegetable tanned. Ideal for tack items and fine pet products.

“English” Bridle
– Strong, waxy, weather-resistant “English” bridle leather, which is the closest to bridle leather made in England. The best U.S. native steer hides are slowly vegetable tanned. These are not to be confused with authentic English bridle leather that’s tanned in England. Ideal for English and western tack, belts, harness parts, strirrup leathers, and pet pouches.

– The part of the hide after the bellies and shoulders have been removed.

Chrome Oil Tanned
– Beautiful, durable leather that has just the right amount of oil for a soft, supple feel. Idea of work chaps, saddle bags, and linings.

Chrome Tanned
– Beautiful quality leather, which is consistent in colour and grade and offers a great yield. Idea for horse collars, liners, pouches, and bags.

– Very supple, beautiful quality leather. Chrome tanned whole hides have little waste. Ideal for garments, gloves, native regalia, and personal leather goods.

Double Backs
– A hard-to-find cut, double backs offer maximum yield with virtually no waste. Available in vegetable tanned natural strap or alum tanned lace leather. Ideal for belts, cases, holsters, lace, and linings.

– A large vessel or vat used in the processing of the skins.

Drum Dyed
– A process of coloration whereby the skins are fully immersed in a liquid dye solution in order to obtain desired color.

– A mechanical means of changing the normal grain of the skin.

– Refers to a number of unusual animal/reptile skins that are tanned primarily for the small leather good/accessory/shoe business (i.e. lizard, snake, crocodile skins, etc.)

– The loose, thin side portion of the skins (the underbelly of the animal).

– Beautiful leather is soft and supple and available in consistent colours. Chrome tanned. Ideal for garments, chaps, and saddle seats.

Gum Tragacanth
– Gum Tragacanth is a water based, low volatile organic compound (V.O.C.), natural gum based edge slicking and burnishing compound for use on natural or colored veg-tanned leather. Produces a professional looking, smooth, shiny, burnished edge.

– The interfacing side of the skin as opposed to the outer portion of the skin.

– Stuffed with heavy tallows for exceptional weight, thickness, ease of cutting and durability. Vegetable tanned. Ideal for work or show harnesses and saddlery.

– Very durable and abrasion resistant.  Chrome tanned for a soft feel, and made mostly for the gloving industry. Ideal for gloves, mitts, and garment use.  Hose is sometimes vegetable tanned for a durable belt weight leather.  Ideal for razor strops, gun holsters, etc.

– These skins are extra strong and durable with a soft, supple feel. Vegetable tanned. Ideal for braided whips, lacing on saddles and tack, or anywhere lacing is used.

– Very clean piece of leather, which dyes and stamps beautifully. Vegetable tanned. Ideal for small leather goods.

– Firm, non-stretching leather to be used where strength is essential. Alum tanned. Ideal for laces, linings, braided reins, or cinches.

– Soft, supple leather. Great for use on products in which strength and flexibility are needed. Choose from chrome vegetable retanned, vegetable tanned, or alum tanned. Ideal for tack, saddlery, and pet products.

– Tumbling the skins in a large vessel to induce softness and other grain characteristics.

– Soft and very durable.  Sold in a variety of weights and colours.  Chrome tanned. Ideal for mitts, moccasins, bags, etc.

– The fibrous surface of suede.

Natural Veg Strap, Tooling, and Moulding Leather
– Perfect leather for tooling, embossing, moulding, dyeing, and oiling. Uniformly absorbs dyes and oils. Dries to a firm, long-lasting shape. Vegetable tanned. Ideal for belts, tack, briefcases, holsters, and sheaths.

– Buffed on the top grain with oil to produce “nap” for a matte, sueded look. Chrome tanned. Ideal for liners, chaps, saddle bags, messenger bags, and pouches.

– Heavily finished leather with a highly lustrous baked enamel appearance. Available in both chrome and vegetable tanned. Ideal for show harnesses, bridle blinds, and housings.

– There are so many different types of pig leather, that it’s difficult to explain without taking up too much space.  Garment suedes, wallet interiors/linings, shoe and boot linings, etc.  Virtually always chrome tanned.

– Strong, firm, untanned cattle hide. Ideal for saddle horn wraps and covered stirrups.

Saddle Skirting
– Moulds and forms to seat, and readily accepts tooling or embossing. Oils and dyes evenly for a nice, beautiful, uniform appearance. Vegetable tanned. Ideal for saddles, tooled and embossed products.

– Beautiful quality sheepskins in a variety of thicknesses. Available in vegetable tanned and chrome tanned, in beautiful colours.

– Sheep are almost always chrome tanned.  We stock deer tanned sheep, which are sheep skins tanned in exactly the same vats as deer skin.  It becomes a less expensive version of deer skin.  Ideal as a deerskin replacement.

– This cut effectively utilizes the head and neck area for miminal waste and optimum use. Great cut for belt manufacturers. Vegetable tanned. Ideal for belts and craft items.

– The process of reducing the thickness of leather.

Sole Bends
– Taken from the best portion of the hide, this extra thick leather features a firm (hard) tannage, designed especially for shoe soles. Vegetable tanned. Ideal for shoe soles and weight lifting belts.

– A layer of skin that has been skived off by mechanical means.

Square Foot
– The unit of measure of a skin by which all leathers are purchased from tanners by manufacturers.

– Finished by budding the flesh side (opposite the grain side) to produce a “nap.” Chrome tanned. Ideal for show or work chaps, saddle seating, and moccasins.

– A hard fatty substance made from rendered animal fat, used in making candles, soap, and leather tanning.

– The means of stabilizing the skin structure by chemical means.

– Soft, supple leather is very strong and durable. Tanned in whole hides for little waste. Used in automotive and restoration upholstery, where large pieces of leather are desireable. Chrome tanned. Ideal for upholstery!

Veg Chrome Tanned
– Firm, yet pliable piece of leather with a nice satin finish. Ideal for suspenders, liners, and pouches.

– The term used for the measurement of the thickness of the leather.  In Canada, this is often in ounces.