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Leather Quality and Properties - Page 2

post #16 of 1279

A brilliant thread! Thank you VegTan

post #17 of 1279
I am scrutinizing every wrinkle and every crease on my boots now! :-<<
post #18 of 1279
I hope you don't mind if I expand the scope of this thread a little with a few non wrinkle related questions.

Below is a web page from Johnston & Murphy about types of leather (http://www.johnstonmurphy.com/style_leather.aspx). I find it interesting that they never mention corrected grain, and state that "Full grain and top grain are the same.":



Clearly full grain and top grain are not the same, but my question is does removing the very top layer (by sanding/buffing) inherently make all top grain leather only applicable to corrected grain treatment (other than suede/nubuck of course)?



Another question, related to leather quality, is about the diagram you have that shows 4 areas of degree of leather quality. I assume the diagram is related to cow hide and not necessarily calfskin, as I would think that the majority of calfskin would be of level 1 grade quality (no wrinkles, or skin damage for external sources). And while a calfskin would be smaller it would provide more usable quality leather per skin.



I would also assume that the majority of corrected grain leather is cow hide and not calfskin, but I really don't know for sure.
post #19 of 1279
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by glenjay View Post

I hope you don't mind if I expand the scope of this thread a little with a few non wrinkle related questions.

Below is a web page from Johnston & Murphy about types of leather (http://www.johnstonmurphy.com/style_leather.aspx). I find it interesting that they never mention corrected grain, and state that "Full grain and top grain are the same.":
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

Clearly full grain and top grain are not the same, but my question is does removing the very top layer (by sanding/buffing) inherently make all top grain leather only applicable to corrected grain treatment (other than suede/nubuck of course)?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)


Quote:
http://www.leatherchemists.org/dictionary.asp

Full Grain: Having the original grain surface of the skin.

Top Grain: The first cut taken from the grain side of a split hide from which nothing except the hair and associated epidermis has been removed.



It is my understanding that the blue part is top grain leather and the red part is split leather.

Isn't top grain American English?
http://www.iultcs.org/leather_terms/t.asp


Quote:
I would think that the majority of calfskin would be of level 1 grade quality (no wrinkles, or skin damage for external sources).


Stretch marks become factory second.
http://www.styleforum.net/t/228153/the-official-shoe-care-thread-tutorials-photos-etc/6030#post_6444262
4066fa41.png


Quote:
And while a calfskin would be smaller it would provide more usable quality leather per skin.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)


The ratio of bend and shoulder seems to be almost same.

post #20 of 1279
i prefer the nappier suede though - the so-called "shaggy suede"
post #21 of 1279
Thanks for the response VegTan.

The full grain / top grain image was taken from a site that sells saddle leather (http://www.saddlebackleather.com/Leather-101).

Definitions of Top Grain can be found at these links that make a distinction between Full Grain and Top Grain:
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leather)
(http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/home/infoandservices/leatherguide/leatherguide.aspx)
(http://www.natanning.com/natcorpleather_glossary.htm)
(http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/grains-of-leather/)
(http://www.waskerd.com/leather.html)
(http://www.gilbergfurniture.com/WhyLeather.html)
(http://leathershoppes.com/facts.html)

I’m not sure if the Top Grain terminology is specific to American English, but there are certainly definitions out there that agree with the diagram as I have shown it. However, I have seen definitions of Top Grain as you have illustrated with your blue and red arrows as well (basically making full grain and top grain synonymous).

Horween Leather Company (based in Chicago) only lists their leathers as full grain or not full grain on their tannage list. They do use the term corrected grain elsewhere, but not top grain.

I wonder if Top Grain became more prevalent in the leather quality vernacular as a better term to describe corrected grain to the end user (mostly in the leather furniture business), since corrected grain inherently has a negative connotation.

I would still be cautious of leather defined as top grain rather than full grain, when buying any leather product.
post #22 of 1279
Quote:
Originally Posted by VegTan View Post

On the other hand, Grenson says shoulder “goes straight to garbage” because shoulder has more noticeable stretch marks than bend does. Can you see them around shoulder?

I'd like to add that in the case of shoes, the marks on shoulders may seem to be unsightly. Not using this part of the hide is understandable.
With that said, shoulder leather is a good cut of the hide, and the markings make for excellent character when used in bags and belts.
post #23 of 1279
It's also worth noting that even the best shoemakers use shoulder and belly...depends on the tannage and the application.

Once upon a time every part of the shoe was made of vegetable tanned leather (chrome tannages had not yet been invented). Some shoes are still predominantly veg. Heel lifts, stiffeners, welts and insoles are typically made from the margins of a hide. Insoles in particular want to be taken from looser and longer fibered areas--most often the shoulder.

I also take issue with the idea of vein shadows being deemed poor leather. Especially on outsole leathers, vein shadows tend to be most prevalent in areas where the best of the best leather is to be found--I & J in the illustration. I suspect the presence of vein shadows is more indicative of improper or insufficient shaving of the corium than weakness or flaws. And, except in extreme cases, I've yet to see a vein shadow that was hollow to any significant extent...not to where it would show up on the grain surface or affect the strength of the leather.

And it's worth noting that the layout of shoe components depicted (cutting for least wastage) may indeed be applicable to manufacturers of RTW footwear (I have no doubt), but such illustrations are misleading in the extreme. No bespoke maker worth his salt would cut a hide in that fashion. Even two pair of shoes from a calf skin is pushing it, much less three pair. Esp. if it's really calf and not just cow labeled calf.

I think it was Thornton who said that prime calf skins...as used in the best of the English Trade...run around 6 square feet in size. Personally, I haven't seen many that small although kangaroo comes close. These hides nevertheless retain the belly and cheeks and shoulder when they are laid out on the cutting table. There's not a lot of prime leather in them if you're going to avoid those areas. Sometimes you're lucky to get one shoe out of each hide.

Small and perhaps trivial points but cautionary for all of that. We need to be careful when citing books or sources that are written for the manufacturing sector of the Trade. They are often penned/ghost written by people with little or no hands-on, practical experience and full of misinformation and expediencies.
post #24 of 1279
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trompe le Monde View Post

i prefer the nappier suede though - the so-called "shaggy suede"

Usually the shaggy suede is split suede rather than reverse calf.
post #25 of 1279
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

Usually the shaggy suede is split suede rather than reverse calf.
This site seems to suggest the opposite
http://www.rancourtandcompany.com/leathers

although in my (admittedly cursory) searching in the past, ive never found full consensus on the various definitions of suede and suede-like materials
post #26 of 1279
That's definitely at odds with what I have seen elsewhere, although I am still in the process of researching for an article.

It will vary suede to suede though because it depends on exactly how they treat it and the quality of the skin.
post #27 of 1279
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trompe le Monde View Post

This site seems to suggest the opposite
http://www.rancourtandcompany.com/leathers

although in my (admittedly cursory) searching in the past, ive never found full consensus on the various definitions of suede and suede-like materials

I don't see how it can be true. It does not make logical sense...the very qualities that we value in a full grain leather--the fineness of the fiber mat, the density, the shortness of the fibers that comprise the mat--all suggest that reverse calf will have not only a less coarse nap but be stronger all around.

Look at the illustration in post 19 again--the layers below the top grain and corium are looser. Ipso facto shaggier nap.

Tannage, currying, and the leather itself all have a bearing on this but my experience is that unbelgrazzo is correct.

The Internet is full of misleading and even outright false information.
post #28 of 1279

I was sad enough to read through Elmer Bliss' patent application for a shoe breaking in device. Why do shoe shops not offer a 'hand' version of this, for new shoes? I was given advice about bending shoes from VegTan and wurger on this but have yet to find it on any other site or in shoemakers' video clips. 

 

Second, why a 'deer' bone and not just the bone that comes out of a large Sunday joint? Did someone try a huge number of different types of bone (Elmer Bliss, perhaps) and come to the conclusion that deer was best? It seems an oddly specific type of bone. 

post #29 of 1279
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by glenjay View Post

The full grain / top grain image was taken from a site that sells saddle leather (http://www.saddlebackleather.com/Leather-101).

Definitions of Top Grain can be found at these links that make a distinction between Full Grain and Top Grain:
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leather)
(http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/home/infoandservices/leatherguide/leatherguide.aspx)
(http://www.natanning.com/natcorpleather_glossary.htm)
(http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/grains-of-leather/)
(http://www.waskerd.com/leather.html)
(http://www.gilbergfurniture.com/WhyLeather.html)
(http://leathershoppes.com/facts.html)

I’m not sure if the Top Grain terminology is specific to American English, but there are certainly definitions out there that agree with the diagram as I have shown it. However, I have seen definitions of Top Grain as you have illustrated with your blue and red arrows as well (basically making full grain and top grain synonymous).


Some people in the past seemed to differentiate between top grain (full grain or full top grain) and snuffed top grain (grain snuffed, corrected grain, sanded grain or hand buffed).

Quote:
http://books.google.com/books/about/Luggage_and_leather_goods_directory.html?id=drRIAAAAYAAJ

Luggage and Leather Goods Manual (1942)

Top grain leather is the best layer as it has the natural surface of the leather which is untouched except to move the hair and epidermis. It is important to remember that top grain, full grain and full top grain are all terms which have identically the same meaning; namely, the surface cut of leather which has not been snuffed, buffed or corrected in any way. Scars, hair cells, healed scratches, horn marks, vein shadows and fat wrinkles are all proof of top grain quality. They are the hall mark of fine leather. Whenever leather is found to be entirely free of any or all of these markings it has invariably been treated in some way to remove or cover them over and thus it cannot be considered as first quality. The finest of top grain leathers must have some of the animals natural hide markings.

(One snippet is missing)
3c644ed1_LuggageandLeatherGoodsManual-P59.png


Quote:
I wonder if Top Grain became more prevalent in the leather quality vernacular as a better term to describe corrected grain to the end user (mostly in the leather furniture business), since corrected grain inherently has a negative connotation.

I suppose you are probably right.
post #30 of 1279
I think the deer bone thing is bullshit.
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