Glossary

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HERE ARE THE WORDS OF OUR CRAFT.


aniline leather
Leather that’s been colored using non-toxic, semi-transparent aniline dyes rather than pigments. Natural markings remain visible.
(See semi-aniline leather)

beamhouse
The area of the tannery where removing hair and liming, the first steps of the leather making process, occur.

buffing
The grain of leather is removed from a cattle hide with a mechanical buffing or abrasion machine for further refinement.

chrome or metal tannage
This type of leather is tanned with chromium salts (primarily sulfates), alone or with another tanning agent.
(See vegetable tannage)

crust
Leather which has been dried immediately after the retanning process. This is leather before the finishing process. Eagle Ottawa manufactures the best crust in the industry.

drums
Large vessels that turn and tumble their contents, used in the leather-making process. Drums are used for tanning, dyeing, and softening leather.

drum dying
Dyes and pigments are added to leather in drums. This process allows the dye to fully penetrate the leather fiber.

emboss
Leather is printed or pressed with extreme pressure to impart a natural grain or pattern design.

fat wrinkle
Naturally occurring wrinkles on animal hides in areas of fat deposits.

finish
A protective surface application of color or coating applied to leather after tanning.

full grain
The original skin or hide before hair and epidermis are removed, and retaining the original grain of the animal.
(See grain)

grain
The visible, natural pattern or texture on a hide or skin complete with pores, wrinkles, and other natural markings.
(See full grain)

hand
An industry term for the feel, softness and fullness of leather. Upholstery leather with good “hand” feels good to the touch.

Liming
A process to remove hair and unwanted substances from hides. In addition to removing hair, the liming process plumps the hides to prepare them for tanning.

matte finish
A flat, dull, or non-shiny finish.

milling
The softening of leather in large rotary drums.

mineral tannage
Like chrome tannage, mineral tanning may use several mineral substances, including the salts of chromium, aluminum, and zirconium.
(See chrome or metal tannage)

natural grain
Leather which maintains its original grain.

natural markings
Markings natural to an animal hide. Includes scars, cuts, and insect bites.

patina
An attractive surface characteristic that naturally occurs during the aging process.

perforation
Tiny holes punched or cut into leather in a pattern.

retan or retanning
A second tanning process used to enhance leather.

semi-aniline
Leathers that have been dyed with aniline and then coated with a transparent or slightly pigmented finish which improve resistance to wear and light.

shrunken grain leather
Full, natural-grain leather, which is shrunken to augment the natural grain of the leather.

skive
To shave, slice, or peel leather into a thin layer.

split (split leather)
The flesh side of a hide after it has been mechanically split into a uniform thickness. The top portion is called top grain. The lower portion is called a split. Often the splits are finished as suede.

splitting
Cutting leather into two layers, top grain and split, before tanning.

spread
The size of a hide, measured mechanically.

staking
Precise mechanical softening of leather. A large machine vibrates the leather to soften it.

stucco
After tanning, the leather is corrected by applying stucco to inverted natural markings.

tannin
Natural, plant-based solvents and astringents used to tan leather.

toggle drying
Leather is stretched and toggled with special clips to a large frame and passed through a large, heated drying tunnel.

top grain
The upper side or piece of leather after splitting. The lower half of the leather is called the split.

trim
Removal of parts and edges of a hide not suitable for making leather.

upholstery leather
Leather processed for use in furniture, such as vehicle seating.

vacuum drying
Wet leather is smoothed over large, stacked heated plates. The plates are then pressed together to create a vacuum that removes moisture from the leather.

vegetable tannage
Tanning leather using all or mostly vegetable tanning agents.
(See chrome tannage)

wet blue
Chrome-tanned or metal-tanned leather results in a light-blue caste to tanned leather.