Types of Leather

Types of Leather

Posted by Ozark Mountain Leather on Nov 9th 2022

Vegetable-tanned leather is tanned using natural materials and other plant-based substances found in trees, leaves, and fruit. No chemicals are used in the tanning process. This process is eco-friendly since it uses natural materials in the tanning process.

Chrome-tanned leather dates to the mid-1800s and is tanned using a family of salts derived from chromium, a natural element. This is the most popular method. The chrome-tanning process only takes fewer days and allows the leather to be dyed more colors. It is more soft and flexible. Used often for jackets, gloves and upholstery.

“Oil-tanned leather” It’s not actually tanned with oil. It’s typically chrome-tanned leather that has special oils worked into its surface after the tanning process is complete. Vegetable-tanned leather may even be used in special cases. The added oils provide a unique look and texture and also protect the soft leather.

Hot-stuffed leather is a specific variation of this process. It is usually vegetable- or chrome- tanned leather that has been dipped into a mixture of hot oils and waxes. The mixture infuses the leather, giving it a buttery texture, rich natural color, and water-resistant properties.

Full-grain leather is the cream of the crop. Considered the highest quality leather on the market, full-grain leather has never been sanded, buffed (to remove any marks), or had its surface refinished to remove natural marks and variation. That’s about more than aesthetics: the intact fibers in the grain are what makes leather strong, breathable, and durable.

Top-grain leather is the second highest quality leather, and the most common leather used in leather products. It is thinner and more flexible than full-grain leather because it’s been split. Then, it is sanded and a finish is applied to the surface. That finish is what makes top-grain leather smoother, more stain resistant, and more uniform than full-grain leather.

Pull-up is a finishing technique, not strictly speaking a type of leather — any kind of leather can be pull up. A popular finishing technique for top grain leather, the pull up finishing technique infuses hot oil and/or wax into the hide. Pull up leather’s magic is achieved by “hot stuffing”. Hot stuffing heats oil, wax, and/or grease and forces them into the hide. Like most leather, pull up leather comes in a variety of colors and shades. The patina will change depending on the color of the leather. Stretching a darker leather will create a lighter colored stressed area. So while they show scuffs and scrapes, it’s also easy to rub them out with your thumb, a bit of time, and friction pressure. 

The life of the animal affect the leather. As we all know leather comes from an animal. Animals live outside, rub up against fences, get bitten by bugs, fight each other and roll around on the ground.  They get scratches and brands on their backs and bodies.  When the leather gets processed and the hair is removed, all the evidence of an easy or rough life shows up in the scars they have.  Due to the nature of leather being a natural product each hide will dye differently and have a different texture.  No two hides are exactly alike.

At Ozark Mountain Leather we use a full grain Veg tanned leather for our custom leather rifle and shotgun slings that has been dyed and treated to help make the perfect sling for you. Our Bison leather Bible and book covers are made from a full grain tumbled bison leather with great pull up effect.  Both of these leathers are tanned just for us here at Ozark Mountain Leather.

Got a questions feel free to ask us. Contact us here.  We look forward to making something custom for you or a loved one.