Leather Terminology


...is tanned using tannin and other ingredients found in the leaves, barks, woods, nuts and galls of various trees.. Very strong and very little stretch. Limited colors but can be dyed. A long process time, usually in pits.


...or mineral –tanned. Is tanned using chromium sulphate. Soft and flexible, more supple and pliable than vegetable-tanned. Many colors available and a quicker process than vegetable-tanned leather.


...soft, flexible and durable. Usually thick and can leave oil residue.

Rawhide / Parchment

...hard and strong - also used for dog chews.

Hair On

...tanned with the hair intact.

Combination Tan

...using more than one tanning process on one hide. Different results are possible when the leather is treated more than once…it can be made softer and more flexible or firmer with a tighter grain. 


...coloured with a transparent dye and shows the natural markings of the hide.


...Aniline leather to which a minimal matching pigment layer is added to even out the colour and add protection.

Full Grain

...is the most genuine type of leather as it retains all of the original texture and markings of the original hide.


...made from lower level of a hide, split from full grain leaving a grain and a split. Split leather is mainly used for suedes, linings or pigmented finishes.

Corrected Grain

...has been buffed to remove blemishes, then covered with a new artificial grain created by using pigments and other finishes

Pigmented Leather

...has been coated with a flat surface color on top of or instead of the usual dye finish. Done to add durability and to hide natural blemishes.


...describes the behavior of leather that has been treated with oils, waxes and dyes in such a way that when the leather is stretched or pulled the leather becomes lighter in the stretched areas.


...is the thickness of the material, usually in millimeters


...reflects the finished quality of the hide. Lower grades have blemishes, cuts and brands graded out and therefore are sold at a lower cost to account for the scrap caused by defects.


Leather is usually purchased using the following methods...


  • By the square foot or square meter to the nearest full piece. The actual size is determined by measuring devices at the tannery, which are regularly calibrated.
  • By the kilo. The actual weight is determined by weighing devices at the tannery, which are regularly calibrated.
  • By the piece or pair of pieces, for example a pair of bends or pair of bellies. Leathers sold this way have one price regardless of size of piece or pair of pieces.
  • By the bag and kilo, for example segregated and un-segregated off-cuts.



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