The leather making process and descriptions of different types of leather can sometimes be a bit confusing. In this blog post, we compiled a list of the most used words across our website when describing our belts. We also have done previous posts on both leather grade terms and the types of leather that our belts are available in.
If you’re looking for something a bit more in depth, the American Leather Chemists Association has an extensive glossary of leather terms. We hope this helps clear a few things up, and of course please contact us (or leave a comment) if you have any further questions!
Cow Hide: Leather made from unsplit cow hide or its grain split.
Embossed Leather: Leather that is carved or printed with some type of design, whether to represent the natural grain of the animal’s hide or a decorative design. Also known as “tooled leather.”
Finish: The final stage of manufacturing leather, which typically involves adding a surface coating to the leather. The surface coating itself is also known as “finish.”
Full Grain: The highest quality grade of leather. This grain of leather maintains all layers of the leather, with no layers stripped from buffing or splitting. All Orion Leather Company belts are made with full grain leather.
Grain: The texture or pattern that is on the surface level of the leather. In high quality leathers (full grain), this will be a unique characteristic of each piece, because it is unique to the animal that it was derived from.
Hide: Leather made from the outer covering of a grown large mammal, that has not been split.
Leather: Hide that has been treated to be imputrescible (non-perishable) and maintains its fibrous structure. The hair may stay intact (as with fur) or be removed. If the hide has been treated with chemical or mechanical methods that break down the skin fibers, it can no longer be correctly called “leather.”
Tanning: The process of turning hide into leather.
Retanned: Leather which has been subjected to an additional tannage with similar or other tanning materials.
Oil Tanned: Leather that has been tanned using fish oils to produce a very soft leather. Oil tanning also creates a “Pull-up” effect in the leather.
Pull-up Effect: An effect produced in oil tanned leather—the leather will change color slightly when it is bent.
Spew (Spue): During tanning, a white crystallized or gummy deposit will come to the surface during certain processes, known as spew. It can also create unique effects in the end product.
Stuffing: Incorporating grease into the leather making process by drumming wet leather with warm grease and oils.
Tannin: Any plant matter or substance used in vegetable tanning.
Unfinished Leather: Any leather that has been tanned to the point that no other unnatural finishes are added. Intended to preserve the natural look of the hide.
Vegetable Tanned: Leather that has been tanned using only vegetable tanning methods and agents, or primarily with vegetable tanning agents. If other agents are used, they are only used to improve or modify the leather, but not to affect the vegetable tanned character of the end result.