If you ever wonder what leather is and where it comes from, you've come to the right place to learn the basics of leather, as well as the equipment we use to make our products.

What is leather?

Leather is a versatile material that comes from animal skin and processed by a tanner. The corium, the most important part of the skin and sits right below the hair roots, is composed of collagen fibers that are woven together to provide that special structure and characteristics leather is known for - strength, elasticity, and breathability.

Tanning is the process of chemically and biologically stabilizing the animal skin to transform it into leather. But first, the hair and epidermis layer on top have to be removed (liming), as well as the layer of flesh from underneath (fleshing), before tanning can begin.

Vegetable tanning is one of the common tanning methods which involves immersing the skin in a solution made from tree bark, twigs, leaves, and water. The choice of tanning material and chemical composition of the solution determine the quality, characteristics, and color of the leather. We like working with vegetable-tanned leather because of the distinct appeal, including its smell, texture, flexibility, and how it changes over time and use.

An eight-ton leather clicker press
Person using the eight-ton leather clicker press

Clicker press that makes a good impression

To cut out leather or canvas patterns, we have an eight-ton clicker press that cuts precisely with metal dies. Die cut produces consistent cuts every time but it involves additional expense based on the size and shape of the dies, so it's better suited for higher volume productions.

In addition to cutting, clicker press is also great for stamping logos and other patterns onto the leather. We like to be creative and use different objects to make interesting impressions and designs.

Smooth and shiny edges

Burnisher is a machine that gives the leather edges a glossy and smooth finish. One side of the machine is a sander that removes extra unwanted material. The burnishing side "burns" the edges so they come out super smooth with a shine. The burnisher's spindle rotates at very high speed that a hand tool simply cannot match.

Person sands the leather wallet edge with the burnishing tool
Person polishes the leather wallet edge with the burnishing tool

Person slides a piece of leather through the skiver machine
Person slides a piece of leather through the skiver machine

More possibilities with the skiver

When working with thick leather to meet stiffness requirement, the leather is very challenging to sew and work with. The skiver changes all that. Skiver is a machine that reduces the thickness of the leather so that the skived part becomes more pliable and much easier to sew. Our amazing skiving machine has many adjustments and can trim down a piece of leather in seconds instead of minutes by hand.

The skiver is a game changer because it allows us to sew super heavy-duty leather and still be able to fold the edges when we need to. It opens up the possibilities for all types of leather that we work with.

Leather sewing machines that can do it all

We have two industrial leather sewing machines that can tackle very different projects. Clyde is the bigger of the two that can sew through 1" thick leather with ease. To make our popular tool bag, we count on Clyde to sew the thick leather bottom to the heavy-duty canvas body so the bag is extremely strong.

Bonnie is the smaller stitcher of the two and she's great for more intricate items like the leather menu covers we made for Sophy Hotel in Chicago.

Two people sitting in front of sewing machines working on a piece of leather
Person sewing a piece of leather with the sewing machine