As my friend admired his new leather jacket, a beautiful addition to his wardrobe, we had various conversations about how surprising it is that raw hides transform into something so beautiful and supple. Then, the question, ‘how do you take leather?’ popped up.
The use of leather in making different products dated back several centuries. Despite these long years, leather never goes out of style. It has evolved and become trendier as many leather lovers dream of adding one leather item or the other to their fashion collections.
How Do I Take Leather?
In many leather shops, you’ll find leather belts, gloves, jackets, footwear, and other products made from various types of leather. And chance is high that you may get overwhelmed if you desire to purchase items made from real leather. But how is leather taken? And how is it made?
As you already know, leather is produced using an animal’s skin. The process involves various steps, from taking the hide to drying and finishing. I got curious and had to learn how to take hides from animals and eventually convert them to leather. Please read on to find out.
The steps involved in taking leather include:
Step One: Removing the Animal’s Skin from Its Flesh
It is best to set the animal on its back in an inclined position to make you work easier. Begin by slicing the animal from its tail down to the throat. Then, use a knife to peel off the skin backward. You can also peel with your hand if it works better for you.
One good way to get more hides is to lay out the animal’s rib cage after dividing the sternum and removing the organs. When you have done this, it’s easy to turn the animal over and remove the remaining hide.
Step Two: Pulling the Flesh Out of the Hide
I noticed that the hides obtained from the animal at this stage will have lots of flesh still attached to them, so the next step is to remove it using a set of fleshing tools. You’ll begin by arranging the hide across a beam horizontally and holding a part of its end with your body weight.
Use the tools to scrape off the subcutaneous materials, then take the membrane and veins. Keep turning the hide as you scrape to ensure you reach the entire hide’s surface. It is also necessary to have a basin below the work area to collect the flesh as they come off.
Step Three: Salting the Hide
Here, you’ll make a brine immediately and soak the hide in it for about 24 hours. The salt helps to preserve it from decay because the hide will rot within a few hours if there’s no proper preservation.
Step Four: Soak the Hide in Water
Fill a large container with cool fresh water and soak the skin there. Leave it for up to 24 hours or more. This soaking helps to wash dirt and stuff from the hide and helps with hair removal.
Step Five: Take Out the Hair
After soaking, it is time to take the hair off the hide. I found that it’s easier to do this with a lime bath. It is a chemical solution that contains calcium oxide. However, you can use the fleshing tools for it too. When you have removed all the hair, hang the hide and allow it to dry.
Step Six: Make Another Lime Bath
Put a teaspoon of calcium hydroxide in a gallon of water (about 3.8L). Use this solution to bathe the hide to remove remnant hairs, soften the hide, and take away unwanted proteins and substances. After the bath, put the hide in clean water and rinse it thoroughly.
Step Seven: Tan the Leather
Tanning is the next stage after taking the hide and doing the entire cleaning process. You can do vegetable tannage, brain tanning, or mineral tannage. You’ll begin by loading the leather in a big container and adding your choice of tanning agent.
Allow the leather to soak there for several hours or days, according to its quantity and your tanning method. You may add dyes at this stage if you want all the leather to have one color. But if not, it’ll come after tanning. Remove the leather from the tanning container after the required length of time.
Step Eight: Rinse and Dry
Add a mild, natural soap to warm water in a large drum and use it to rinse off the dyes and chemicals from the leather after tanning. Then, hang it out in a cool area and patiently allow it to dry. The leather is reading for finishing and use.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
Q: How do you take care of leather naturally?
You can make a homemade cleaner and leather conditioner to enable you to take care of leather naturally. Knowing how to condition leather at home helps you care for and maintain leather bags, belts, and other items of regular use.
I love to combine two parts of natural oil, such as coconut oil and a part of lemon juice, for cleaning my leather items. The lemon removes dirt, and the oil adds hydration. I use the mixture to dampen the leather and a microfiber cloth to buff it.
Another way is to purchase a natural cleaning kit from clothing stores and use it to care for your leather. Please, ensure you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to get the best results from these products.
Q: How do you take care of soft leather?
One of the best ways to care for soft leather is to protect it from scratches. The scratches can come from places you least expect, such as bumpy jewelry, clothes full of embellishment, and other sharp surfaces. Your leather item can have scratches if they come in contact with such surfaces.
If you use a leather item frequently, try making out some time every week to wipe off dust and dirt from it using a soft cloth. You should protect it from rain, gently blot out moisture as soon as possible, and dry it naturally.
Also, apply leather conditioner monthly to protect and keep it supple. Get more tips on how to take care of leather bags or how to take care of leather shoes, as the case may be. Following these simple rules will help you take care of your leather.
Q: How can I increase my leather life?
Leather can last a very long time, if it receives proper care and maintenance. Here are some ways to increase leather life.
- Don’t use harsh chemicals on leather items. Leather is delicate, and an alcohol-based cleaning agent can damage, discolor and dry it out. It is best to use leather-friendly cleaners and conditioners.
- Clean off stains immediately after they get to the leather because they may become more difficult with time. You can apply a mixture of lemon juice and tartar on the spot, let it sit for 15 minutes, and wipe it off with a soapy cloth. Then, air dry.
- Ensure to air your leather items once a month or two to avoid mildew and mold growth. You can use an equal mixture of white vinegar and water to wipe any part of the leather affected by mold. Then, let it dry naturally.
- You may use a soft cloth to apply natural oil, such as olive oil, to your leather to remove dullness and make it shiny.
Q: Does leather last a long time?
Yes, real leather lasts for a long time. Some can even last you a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. One of the reasons I buy real leather items is because they are investment pieces that will last for several decades.
However, it is necessary to stress the importance of proper care of leather items because that’s what helps them to look better as they stay longer. Ensure you follow the rules and instructions on how to care for leather, and you’ll enjoy using it for several years.
Q: Does leather get better with age?
Sure, it does, and that’s one of my favorite things about leather. It is a representation of the saying, “old is gold.” The leather develops a patina with time, giving a darker shade because of the sun, aging, body oils, dirt, and markings. They combine to make the leather have a better appearance with age.
From jackets and boots to belts and purses, we all rock our leather products with unmistakable pride. But do you know where leather comes from and how it becomes the finished product you see? This piece on how do you take leather gives the answers.