We've included a glossary of leather terms here
to help you better understand the world of leather.
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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: Leather that is dyed with one color over
another (usually darker over lighter) so as to create
rich highlights and an artificial aged appearance.
Also called distressed leather.
Buffed Leather: Leather from which the top surface has
been removed by abrasion. Often known as suede or
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
Distressed: Another term for antiqued leather.
Drum Dying: The process of coloring leather by
tumbling it in a rotating drum immersed in dye. 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. Used, for example, to create imitation
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 which 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, typically upholstery leather.
Nap: Describes the soft, "fuzzy" effect achieved in
leather by buffing or brushing.
Natural Grain: A leather that displays its original grain.
Nubuc: A 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, nubuc is created using the
grain (outer) side, giving it added strength and
Oil Tanned: Leather that is tanned using oils to
create a very soft, pliable finish.
Patina: The aura or luster that develops in a quality
piece of leather with age.
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. 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
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 (i.e. on
upholstery), the finish becomes lighter in the
stretched areas. Considered a mark of high quality.
Retan: A second finish added over an underlying tannage.
Sauvage: A coloring effect created by blending two
similar dyes to create a mottled or marbled
Semi-Aniline: Aniline leather to which a matching
pigment layer is added to even out the color and add
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.
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.
Suede: Split leather that has been buffed and brushed
to create a fuzzy surface feel.
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 Sauvaged leathers are examples of two-tone leathers.
Upholstery Leather: Leather created from a whole hide
and intended for use in furniture, automobiles,
airplanes, and other upholstery applications.
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
Weight: A term which describes the heaviness or
thickness of leather. 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, and typically intended for
use as upholstery leather.
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Last modified: July 2016