Should you be concerned about the hide or skin of an animal including reptiles that was used to make the leather product you wish to buy? Does the condition of the hide determine what grade of leather can be made? Can a hide be used to make more than one kind of leather? Does the tanning and finishing process of the hide make a difference as to the type of leather made? Find answers to these questions and more in the following information.
- Where does leather come from?
- What conditions make for the best hide or skin
- Can hides be used to make more than one kind of leather?
- Does the tanning and finishing process of the hide make a difference as to the type of leather made?
- To make your shopping easier
Leather is treated hide or skin processed by man. ‘Hide’ comes from large animals. ‘Skin’ comes from smaller animals. Large animals include animals such cows, buffalo, ostrich, oxen, deer, and elk. Small animals include animals such as sheep, lambs, rabbits, dogs and snakes. Unless hides and skins go through further processing they quickly decay and rot because they are comprised of protein and water. To preserve the usefulness of hides and skins, man applies a tanning process to convert the hides and skins into lasting, usable leather.
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The condition of an animal hide or skin reflects what an animal eats, how healthy it is, how much exercise it had, and what mishaps or strenuous physical stress it encountered. The following will result in a less than perfect hide surface to be used as is: parasites, disease, barbed wire fence scratches, fights, branding iron marks, malnutrition, and diet of significant degree of non food fillers with ground grain. A hide free of imperfections is used for the highest grade of leather: full grain.
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Hides and skins tanned for leather can be identified by two distinct layers, the grain and the corium, and a layer which is includes the section where the grain and corium meet. The grain layer can be processed as two types of grain layer: full grain leather with no alterations or corrections to the original grain of the hide and top grain leather with corrections to the original grain of the hide.
Full grain leather may contain the grain layer and some of the section where the grain and corium layer meet. Full grain leather is known as the highest grade of leather. Top grain leather may contain the bottom section of the grain layer, the section where the grain and corium layer meet and a small portion of the corium layer. Top grain leather is known as the second highest grade of leather.
The corium layer is processed and is known as split leather. Many times it is also called genuine leather since this is the section where the grain and corium meet and the corium layer of the hide. This layer of hide is known as the third highest grade of leather.
Each leather manufacturer generally uses the above terminology; however sometimes the layer at which the full, top and genuine leather is split may vary slightly. Genuine leather could contain a small section of the top grain and therefore contain a some grain.
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Does the tanning and finishing process of the hide make a difference as to the type of leather made?
The tanning and finishing process of the hide makes a difference as to the type of leather it becomes. The following information provides examples of the type leather produces based on tanning and finishing processes.
Full grain leather is known as naked leather because no treatment or finish other than an aniline dye is used so the original grain of the hide is retained. If a high luster is desired top grain leather is subject to rollers with great pressure. The end product is known as glazed leather.
Top grain leather is known as altered or corrected leather because the imperfections of the original grain have been altered or corrected by means of sanding or buffing.
Split leather is known as suede, embossed or plated leather. There is no original grain to this layer of hide; however, a grain may be stamped on it to resemble an original grain.
Many types of animal hides and skins are used for making leather. The health and physical activity of the animal does make a difference as to the grade of leather than can be made from the hide. Hides are split into two layers. The grain layer with its original grain makes the best grade of leather. The corium layer with very little or no grain is the lowest grade of leather; however it can be embossed with an original grain look to make it a very useful leather.
To be a happy leather shopper it is important you decide which grade of leather you want, know the leather grade of the product you want to buy, and be willing to pay the price for the grade you select. There are no super good deals when it comes to quality leather. If you find one, be sure you aren’t looking at a reconstituted or fake leather product.