Selecting Leather

The hides of large animals such as Cow are generally sold in the cuts indicated above. Sides are the most common cut of Vegetable Tanned Cowhide... and Double Shoulders are the most popular cut for the making of belts. 

The hides of smaller animals such as Sheep, Deer or Goat are generally referred to as Skins and sold as whole hides.

HOW LEATHER IS SOLD

Generally, leather is sold by the square foot or by the pound. When sold by the pound, the leather is weighed when shipped from our warehouse... per pound pricing usually applies to Skirting, Harness or Sole Leather. When leather is sold by the square foot, the hides are measured at the tannery and are usually sold in whole pieces. The actual square footage of each piece of leather will vary... no two pieces are exactly the same. The various cuts of cowhide are all sold by the square foot. Skins are priced by the square foot... but occasionally some skins may be priced by the piece (such as shearlings). Our large Saddle Skirting Sides are sold by the piece. 

TANNING PROCESSES

All leathers, except rawhide, go through a tanning process. The main tanning processes available are Chrome Tanned, Vegetable Tanned and Alum Tanned. Chrome tanned leather is tanned using soluble chromium salts, primarily chromium sulfate. Vegetable tanned leather is tanned using vegetable materials derived from tree bark and various other plants. Alum tanned leather is tanned with a colorless aluminum salt and is primarily used as lace leather. Other variations are Chrome Oil Tanned, where chrome tanned leather is treated with oil to help preserve the leather... and Retanned where vegetable tanned leather is simply retanned using chrome salts or chrome leather is retanned using a vegetable process.

LEATHER

  • The proper thickness of leather is important to any project. The Leather Substance Table below provides comparative figures to clarify terms used in the leather industry to indicate leather thickness.
  • The thickness of most craft leather is designated by "ounce", which is 1/64" in thickness. Sole leather which may be used by sandal and shoe makers is measured in terms of "iron" which is 1/48" in thickness.
  • Even though most leather is subjected to some splitting and leveling to minimize variations, each cut will have some variation of thickness and the weight is therefore indicated as a range... such as 7-8 ounce or 12-13 iron.
  •  Leather is measured and marked at the tannery, with square footage usually indicated in sq. ft. and quarter ft....for example: A hide with a measurement of 23-2 would mean 23 1/2 sq.ft. Pigskins are usually measured in sq. ft. and tenths.... for example: 23.2 would mean 23 and 2 tenths sq.ft. An electronic device is used by the tannery to accurately compute the square footage in each piece of leather.
  • Leather used in the shoe industry and upholstery industry is commonly measured using letter symbols to indicate thickness. Example: LL(2 -2 1/2 ounce), L (2 1/2 - 3 ounce), LM (3 -3 1/2 ounce), M (3 1/2" - 4 ounce), HM ( 4- 4 1/2 ounce), H (4 1/2 - 5 ounce). HH (5 - 5 1/2 ounce), HHH (5 1/2 - 6 ounce).

LEATHER SUBSTANCE TABLE

Inch

Millimeter

Decimal

Ounce

Iron

1/64"

.40

.0165

1

3/4

1/32"

.80

.0313

2

1 1/2

3/64"

1.20

.0469

3

2 1/4

1/16"

1.60

.0625

4

3

5/64"

2.00

.0781

5

3 3/4

3/32"

2.40

.0938

6

4 1/2

7/64"

2.80

.1094

7

5 1/4

1/8"

3.20

.1250

8

6

9/64"

3.60

.1406

9

6 3/4

5/32"

4.00

.1563

10

7 1/2

11/64"

4.40

.1719

11

8 1/4

3/16"

4.80

.1875

12

9

13/64"

5.20

.2031

13

9 3/4

7/32"

5.60

.2188

14

10 1/2

15/64"

6.00

.2344

15

11 1/4

1/4"

6.40

.2500

16

12

17/64"

6.80

.2656

17

12 3/4

9/32"

7.20

.2813

18

13 1/2