Leather Guide

United Leather's Leather Buying Guide

Types Of Leather

Bridle - firm, hard temper leather with minimal oil to withstand weather. vegetable tanned.

Great for: belts, straps, pet collars/leashes, firearm belts/holsters

Chrome Oil Tanned - durable leather with minimal oil for a soft and supple hand feel. chrome tanned.

Great for: accessories & handbags, boots/shoes, chaps.

Kipskin - clean, smooth leather from smaller calf hides. stamps/embosses and holds dye well. vegetable tanned.

Great for: belt liners, personal leather goods, accessories & handbags.

Latigo - rigid and strong yet flexible. chrome vegetable retanned.

Great for: straps, belts, pet collars/leashes.

Natural Vegetable Tanned - Strap, Tooling & Molding Leather Absorbs oils and dyes well. dries to a firm, long-lasting shape. perfect for tooling, embossing, molding, dyeing and oiling. vegetable tanned.

Great for: belts, straps, holsters & sheaths.

Leather Glossary


Dyed through with aniline dyes. sometimes topped with a protein, resin, or lacquer protective coating. may also be waxed.


Ideal for soles of shoes or the gear worn by historical reenactors.


Most widely used tanning method. tanned with chromium salts, primarily basic chromium sulphate resulting in soft mellow hides receptive to excellent color variety.


Outside enamel is buffed or sanded to minimize natural markings. it is then pigmented to cover the sanding and often printed with a false grain. a sealer topcoat is applied. corrected grain material is also called top grain leather.


Unfinished leather that was dyed and tanned.


Sometimes corrected, in which a pattern is applied by extreme heat and pressure in a press to give a unique design or imitation of full grain characteristics. sometimes embossed to make them appear to be a different type of leather.


A surface application to color, protect or mask imperfections. more specifically, all processes are administered to the leather after it has been tanned.


Term used to describe the outside of the original skin /hide that has had the hair removed, but otherwise has not been corrected or altered. possesses the genuine original grain of the animal.


Term used to describe the feel, i.e. softness or fullness of leather.


Leather with little to no treatment or finish other than dye matter, which may mask/alter the natural state of the leather.


Leather which retains the full original grain.


A brushed, grain sueded leather.


Leather put in a large drum during the tanning process. It emerges much softer.


Leather with a glossy impermeable finish produced by successive coats of drying oils, varnish or resins.


A term used to describe the surface appearance of something grown beautifully, especially with age or use.


Process of dye cutting small holes to form a pattern. holes can vary in size, density and pattern.


Cured and dehaired hides that haven’t been tanned.


Vegetable tanned cattle hide leather usually of a natural tan shade and rather flexible. typically used for saddles and harnesses.


A hide/skin that is sliced in layers to give uniform thickness to the grain. the split is the next layer, which is a bi-product that is trimmed and finished as suede. cheap leathers are sometime pigmented splits with an embossed imitation grain.


Leather that is finished by buffing the flesh side (opposite the grain side) to produce a nap.


Process of raising fibers on the grain side of a hide to give a velvet nap effect. generally referred to as Nubuk.


Term used to describe genuine grain leather, as opposed to split leather which has been pigmented and embossed with a new grain.


Aniline dyed or naked leather with no additional application intended to finish, color or treat in any way that would alter the natural characteristics of the leather.


General term for leather processed in whole hides for use in furniture, automobiles and aircraft.


The conversion of rawhide into leather using vegetable tanning materials which produces a leather with greater density, body and firmness than chrome tanned leather.

Hide Patterns & Leather Thickness Chart

leather hide size guide

What Type of Leather Hides Are Best for Each Industry?

As a top lambskin and cowhide leather supplier, we know different industries have different needs. The type that fits best for your industry depends on a variety of factors, including these attributes of the leather:
  • - Thickness
  • - Firmness
  • - Grain
  • - Color
  • - Dyes

Here’s a look at what types of hides work best for different industries.


Pets: Collars and Leads

Leashes and leads require long strips, and latigo works well for these. Thicker chrome-tan leather and vegetable-tanned leather make effective collars. Top options include:  

Fashion: Handbags

The fashion industry employs a range of different types of leather. For handbags, you may need a softer, more pliable material that’s nonetheless durable enough to withstand repeated use. Top options include:

Fashion: Apparel

Fashion: Footwear

Leather used to make shoes must stretch. Corrected leather grain, also referred to as top grain, works well for shoes. Top options include:

Fashion: Bags and Cases

Medium-weight leather offers a sturdy enough base for cases and bags, which need to be more durable than purses. Top options include:

Interior Design

Interior designers need varied materials depending on what they are designing for. An embossed or exotic hide can add visual interest to a piece. Softer leathers offer inviting places to sit. Top options include:

What to Consider When Buying From a Leather Supplier Online

Keep these four things in mind when buying from a cowhide or lambskin leather supply company:

1.) Look closely at the pictures.We post high-quality photos on our site so our customers know what they are getting. Be wary of sites that don’t display their products.

2.) Consult our thickness and size chart before you purchase. Knowing how thick you need your leather will help you eliminate lots of choices.

3.) Figure out how much leather your project requires.You may end up buying too much if you do not do a careful analysis before you buy. If you purchase too little, you can always add more later.

4.) Choose a site that's been in business for a while. This way you know they’re reliable and will give you what they claim to sell, otherwise, they never would last. That’s why you can count on United Leather for all your leather needs. Contact us today for more information and product details.