Beginning of leather

Hope this information regarding leather helps you to add information to your life, making it easy to understand and to think differently.


Nearly as old as humans, leather is a material. It has long given mankind warmth, protection, and elegance as a wearable natural second skin.

The early people had a need to hunt for food (protein, iron). Even though they had no concept of sustainability, they did not waste any of their prey because animals could be used for much more than just food. Hooves, claws, and horns were employed as weapons, amulets, and needles. They later mastered the utilization of the skin and hair. They learned that, unlike other skins, those cleaned in a pond with old wood did not decay on their shoulders. They learned how to take care of them and make leather out of them.

As they gained experience in drying, salting, and tanning, their new second skin got stronger, softer, and more resistant to wind and harsh weather.

Deerskin, wild boars, and other animals that we hunt and raise for sustenance provide the material for our leather (cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, and certain fish). Tanners recover and recycle their skin or hide it as waste.

Over the years, the tanning process has changed, becoming more environmentally friendly and safer for tannery employees. There are fewer and fewer places in the globe where the processing and working conditions are unacceptable. These actions, which in no way correctly represent the contemporary leather industry and its goods, are rejected and condemned by the International Council of Tanners (ICT) and all of its members.

Although certain things have changed, we still attempt to maximize the use of killed animals and minimize the waste of their parts, particularly their skins. Even today, leather is a really attractive material. Genuine leather is cozy to wear because it moves moisture and controls body temperature.


The chemical tanning, or chemical treatment, of animal skins and hides, produces leather, a material that is tough, flexible, and long-lasting. Cattle, sheep, goats, horses, buffalo, pigs, hogs, and aquatic creatures like seals and alligators are the main sources of leather in the world.


In spite of the fact that the process of creating leather for manufacturing hasn’t evolved much over the previous several thousand years, it is unquestionably not an easy one. In actuality, the process of turning skins into leather takes an average of 10 working days.

Tanners are highly knowledgeable craftspeople who carry out their tasks with the utmost care. The lengthy and challenging nature of leather manufacture helps to account for the high retail cost of leather goods.

We’ll walk you through every stage of the process, from a salted hide to a fine piece of leather, in a total of 24 steps:

1. Curing

Hides, the term used to describe animal skins used to make leather, must be kept to avoid deterioration. These preservation techniques frequently involve the use of chemicals, salting, freezing, or chilling.

2. Soaking

After being cured, the hide is placed in water and allowed to soak for several hours or even days. This step’s goals are to rehydrate the hide and clean off any extra salt or dirt. For instance, during shipping, undesirable dirt deposits could have happened.

3. Painting

Do not be misled by the phrase. Painting refers to the use of sulfides to remove the wool from sheepskins while describing how leather is created.

4. Liming

While liming serves a number of uses, its main objective is to remove any unwelcome hair from the hide by introducing alkali. We are left with the bare skin of the animal once the hair has been removed. A pelt is a more typical name for this.

5. Fleshing

The technique of fleshing involves running the pelt through a machine to remove any tissue from the flesh side, as the name suggests. At this point, a pelt may occasionally be divided into layers as well.

6. De-Liming

In this process, the alkali in the pelt must be gradually neutralized. This must be done gradually because a sudden change in acidity may cause tissue deformation.

7. Bating

The pelt is treated with enzymes, which causes them to relax and flatten the fur.

8. Pickling

Pickling includes applying weak acids or salt solutions because tanning requires that pelts be slightly acidic. A powerful solution can be used as a preservation if a pelt won’t be tanned for several months.

9. De-Greasing

A pelt must have any extra grease cleaned with water or a gentle solvent right before tanning.

10. Tanning

A pelt becomes chemically altered during tanning, making it resistant to chemicals, dampness, and bacteria. Simply said, during this stage, the proteins are transformed into a stable substance.

It is generally done by using:

  • Minerals: The most typical substance used in leather tanning is a mineral, such as chromium salts.
  • Oils: An oil-tanned pelt produces a much softer leather that is suitable for more stylish items.
  • Vegetables: To create thick, firm, brown leather that is perfect for belts, shoes, bags, and cases, plant extracts can be employed.

A pelt is now considered leather once it has been tanned, but there are still a number of stages to complete before it is prepared for sale to a maker.

11. Splitting

In this stage, leather is divided into two layers using a machine. The end outcome will have a layer with no grain surface. This item can be used to make suede or have artificial grain put to the surface.

12. Shaving

Another machine is used to shave the non-grain side of the object with a grain surface. This is how the desired thickness of the leather is created.

13. Neutralization

Remains from any prior chemical applications are cleaned up in this step of the leather-making process. To give the end product a certain look or texture, additional tanning materials may also be used.

14. Dyeing

Any number of colors may be added at this point depending on the planned purpose for the finished leather. This is how black, red, brown, and even white leather are produced.

15. Fat-liquoring

In order to make the leather flexible and supple, this technique lubricates it with oil. When making leather for clothing, this is especially crucial because leather without oil dries up hard and rigidly.

16. Samming

The leather must be dried to remove moisture before it can be used in manufacturing. Several different types of equipment are used to extract nearly half of the water.

17. Setting Out

Now that the leather has been stretched, the grain’s surface has been rounded. By doing this, the leather’s remaining moisture is further diminished.

18. Final Drying

Usually, leather is dried until there is less than 20% water content left.

19. Staking & Dry Drumming

The leather is further massaged in a staking machine to make sure it is supple and flexible. The fibres are separated by this technique. When finished, the leather is put into a turning drum for a lengthy tumble.

20. Buffing & Brushing

Buffing has now completely eliminated the leather’s flesh surface, giving it a softer feel or just reducing the overall thickness. Following the buffing, all dust gathered during buffing is thoroughly removed with brushing.

21. Finishing

In the creation of leather, finishing is done to provide a uniform color, erase any flaws on the grain surface, adjust the gloss level, and add a protective and weather-resistant surface.

22. Final Grading

The tanner must assign the leather a grade based on its feel, suppleness, thickness, and texture before selling it to a maker. During the final grading, any naturally existing flaws, like as scratches, must also be highlighted.

23. Measurement

The finished product is now ready! From beginning to end, this is how leather is manufactured. Since leather is sold by area, the next stage in this process is to measure the area of each individual piece. Measurements are made using a machine to assure complete accuracy.

24. Quality Inspection

The next step is a quality inspection to make sure the leather is intact and has the right shade without any tears or other flaws. The leather is rolled and delivered.

Grades of leather

Leather is typically made in the following grades:

Top-grain leather

Top-grain leather is strong and durable because of the grain, or top layer, of the hide. It is the skin’s outermost layer. Depending on its thickness, it might also contain a small amount of corium, a more fibrous under-layer. Top-grain leather varieties include:

Full-grain leather

Without any surface removal, full-grain leather contains the entire grain layer. During the course of its useful life, it acquires a patina rather than deteriorating. It is typically regarded as the best leather available. Full-grain leather is frequently used to create footwear and furniture. A soluble aniline dye is often used to polish full-grain leather. Full-grain leather comes in the shape of Russian leather.

Corrected grain leather

In order to produce a more consistent appearance, finishing procedures are applied to the surface of corrected grain leather. This typically entails polishing or sanding out grain imperfections before dying and embossing the surface.


To create a surface that resembles velvet, top-grain leather must first be sanded or rubbed on the grain side to create nubuck.

Split leather

The corium, also known as the drop split, which remains after the top-grain has been separated from the hide is used to make split leather. The drop split can be further divided into a centre split and a flesh split in thicker skins.

Bicast leather

Split leather is pressed into a wet polyurethane or vinyl layer on embossed release paper to create bicast leather, which is then dried. It appears to be a grain as a result. It has a more uniform texture and is slightly stiffer than top-grain leather.

Patent leather

Patent leather is leather that has had a coating applied to give it a high-gloss sheen. It dates back to the late 1700s, but it gained popularity after inventor Seth Boyden created the first mass-production method in 1818s using a lacquer based on linseed oil. Bicast leather is frequently used in contemporary editions.


The underside of a split is used to make suede, which has a velvety, napped texture. As the skins of adults frequently result in a coarse, shaggy nap, it is frequently manufactured from younger or smaller animals.

Genuine leather

The phrase “genuine leather” has numerous meanings. When used as a product label description, the term “contains leather” only has the meaning “contains leather” in specific countries. The phrase frequently refers to split leather that has undergone significant processing and is not regarded as a high-quality product. Some sources refer to it as being equivalent to bicast leather, split leather that has been painted or glued together from several splits, or even bonded leather. Regulations in several nations place restrictions on the term’s use in product labeling.

Bonded leather

Bonded leather, also known as reconstituted leather, is made of shredded shreds of leather that is adhered to a fibre mesh using polyurethane or latex. The qualities of the product are impacted by the 10% to 90% variation in leather fibre content.

Types of Leather

Aniline, semi-aniline, and colored (protected) leather are the three primary varieties. You’re probably wondering what the difference is at this point.

  • aniline leather

The most natural type of leather is aniline leather. This material has not been altered in any way; you basically get what you see. This leather kind is the most delicate, but it is also the most attractive since its natural color and texture can be appreciated, and the leather ages well to form a magnificent patina.

  • Semi-aniline Leather

This kind of leather is somewhat treated before being manufactured into a product, such as leather furniture, and is one step removed from aniline. On its surface, a thin coating is applied. This coating could slightly, but not significantly, change the color of the leather.

  • Pigmented Leather

 This sort of leather is the best-treated and most resilient because it has a thick coating that both contains and preserves the pigment.

These kinds of leather can also be categorized as finished or unfinished.


Note: This article is based on personal research of our team SumeShag, if some information is less or missing, it will be updated with time. Hope this article will help people understand the beginning of leather, what leather is, how it is manufactured, and what are the grades, and types of leather. 

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