'Leather has played an important role in the development of civilisation. From prehistoric times man has used the skins of animals to satisfy his basic needs. He has used hides to make clothing, shelter, carpets and even decorative attire'

Leathercraft terms

'Back. A side with the belly cut off, usually 15 - 18 sq.ft.

Belly. The lower part of a side, usually 4 - 8 sq.ft.

Kip. The skin of a large calf, usually 9 - 17 sq.ft.

Split. This refers to the undersection of a piece of leather that has been split into two or more thicknesses. Splits are usually embossed with a design or sueded.

Suede. Leather that has been sanded to produce a nap.

Grain. The epidermis or outer layer of animal skins.

Full Grain. Leather that is just as it was when taken off of the animal. Only the hair has been removed and the grain or epidermis is left on.

NOTE: ONLY FULL GRAIN, VEGETABLE TANNED LEATHER will absorb water and tool correctly. All leather carving and tooling must be done on full grain leather.

Top Grain. Top grain leather has often been sanded to remove scars and then sprayed or pasted to "cover up" the work. Top Grain IS NOT the same as "Full Grain" leather.

To make leather a uniform thickness, first the hides are run through a splitting machine. Since animal hides are not of uniform thickness, and since they are wet when they are put through the splitting machine, thethickness of the leather will not remain the same throughout the hide. There will always be slight variations and that is why leathers are usually shown with a range of thickness - such as 2 - 2.4mm., 3.2 - 3.6mm., etc.'


© Katie Eilidh MacDonald Paul, all rights reserved