Leather Terminology

Back in the day, our ancestors used leather in unusual ways, from boat sails and wallpaper to—can you believe, drinking vessels? You’re probably wondering how the drink tasted, and so do we.

In those days, they used a few terms such as “rawhide,” “buckskin,“ and “tanning.” If our ancestors were to reappear today and find the vast leather terminology, we can’t imagine the shock on their faces.

If you’re equally confused by the terms, then you need a better understanding of leatherwork terms to make better crafting or buying decisions.

In this terminology, we’ll explore the world of leather as we cover everything from tanning processes to hardware used in leatherworking. 

As we go through these modern leather terminology, here’s what you’ll take away:

  • The types of leather, their unique characteristics, and how they affect the final product.
  • The leather working techniques used to treat hide and add intricate designs to the finished leather.
  • Characteristics of leather that are a key feature in distinguishing different types of leather.
  • Types of hardware used on leather and how each type affects the appearance, functionality, and durability of the leather product.

Shall we start with the Leather types?

Types of Leather

Ever wondered why your leather belt cracked before your friend’s belt, yet you both bought them at around the same time? Or why one of your leather bags can carry heavier weight without stretching like the others?

It’s all connected to the leather type that made the product.

The term "leather" refers to a wide range of materials, each with its own unique characteristics and uses. From full grain to suede, leather types vary based on the part of the hide used, the tanning process, the finishing technique, and other factors.

In this section, we’ll explore the various types of leather and their characteristics that will help you make informed decisions as you buy or craft leather goods.

Leatherworking Techniques

Leatherworking techniques have been around for centuries, from basic cutting and saddle stitching to more advanced techniques such as tooling and embossing.

Whenever you buy a leather product and can’t help but admire the breathtaking designs on it, you’ve just come into contact with an item that was crafted using such techniques.

Each technique requires a specific set of skills and tools, and mastering them is essential to producing high-quality leather goods.

How about we jump straight in and help you understand the various leatherworking techniques that bring the finished product to you?

Leather Characteristics

If you’ve been to a ranch, you’ve probably seen cattle with initials on their thighs or hip as a form of identification, but have you ever thought the marks would be useful in future?

These marks are priceless to fans of authentic leather who cherish every scar, every branding mark and even the wrinkles on the hide.

The marks are what will enable you to understand leather and differentiate the different types, from their texture to how they’re cut to optimize the yield.

You don’t want to miss the valuable insights in this section.

Types of Hardware

What holds your wallet, sheath, or key fob together? If it’s not stitched, then most probably it’s fastened using hardware. 

Such hardware includes rivets that prevent your leather bag from bursting when full, a snap that closes a knife sheath, or a buckle that secures your belt on your waist.

One thing that’s for sure is that hardware impacts the durability, aesthetic appeal, and functionality of the final product. 

In this section, we’ll explore the types of hardware commonly used in leather goods, their properties, and how they affect the appearance and durability of the final product.