How Leather Is Made
A Quick Insight into Leather Production
Leather can be made from cows, pigs, goats and sheep or exotic animals such as alligators, ostriches, kangaroos and even dogs and cats in China to make animal hides.
Animal hides are first treated with salt in a tannery to preserve them from bacteria. The salt is then shaken off and the hides are soaked in lime, which is a process called liming. Liming is used to remove the hairs and unwanted protein from the hides.
At this point the hides are still have fleshy parts on them, so a process called fleshing is introduced to remove this using circular blades, which also regulates the leathers thickness at the same time.
The final process of preparing the hides is called trimming. This basically involves trimming off any unwanted areas of the hide that cannot be used.
Leather hides are quite thick, so each one is then split in two creating a top grain, which is the outside of the animal and a lower layer, which is referred to as the split.
The hides are then taken through the process of tanning, which is usually achieved by placing them in a rotating drum. This process converts the raw fibers into a durable product providing it with great strength and flexibility.
From here the hides are then squeezed through a roller to remove any excess moisture in a process called wringing.
Hides are then selected or graded for their purpose. They are then shaved to create a uniform thickness in a method called shaving.
These hides are then ready for colour. This is achieved by soaking the hides in dye to ensure the colour is the same all the way through. The hides are then dried using a variety of methods.
As hides normally have scars from insect bites or barbed wire, the hides are usually then treated with flexible filler and buffed to create a smooth a perfect finish, depending on their purpose. An artificial grain is then pressed into the leather to give it its final look that you see on most leather sofas and cars seats.
Finally they may be treated with additional colour to create a two-tone colour finish that you may find on a lot of sofas or chesterfield chairs.
The fact that leather is made in this way allows us to use the same process that is used in making leather, to repair it.