Leather Tanning

What is chrome tanned leather?


  1. Chrome tanning leather is a process that uses chromium salts to tan the leather.
  2. 80% of leathers tanned today are chrome tanned.
  3. Chrome tanned leather is used for upholstery and garments.
  4. Chrome tan leather is usually 1 oz. – 5 oz. thick.
  5. Colorful suede is chrome tanned.
  6. Don’t use chrome tan leather to make holster and knife sheaths because high chromium salts react to metal.

What are the benefits of chrome tanned leather?

  1. Chrome tan leather offers beautiful rich colors, a nice supple feel and are available in prints.
  2. Chrome tan leather is less expensive than vegetable tanned leather because of the tanning process. It takes two days for the chrome tan process compared to almost 30 days to vegetable tan leather.

What are the uses for chrome tan leather?

  1. Use chrome tanned leather to make coats, vests, skirts, pants, purses, bags, briefcases, backpacks, duffel bags and for upholstery projects like sofas and recliners.

What is vegetable tanned leather?

  1. The recipe for vegetable tanned leather has changed very little over millennia.
  2. Vegetable tanning uses natural elements called tannins to tan the leather. For example, oak bark is used in oak tanning.
  3. Veg tanned leather is 1 oz. – 37 oz. in thickness.

What are the benefits of vegetable tanned leather?

  1. Veg tan leather is great for stamping designs. Just wet the top grain and it retains every detail.
  2. Fantastic for carving after wetting the top grain.
  3. Easily add a groove line for decoration or a guide.
  4. Bevel edges and slick or burnish leather edges for a professional finished look.
  5. Use a swivel knife to cut intricate designs. A backgrounder tool will allow you to develop pleasing detailed designs in the leather.
  6. Dye veg tan leather to produce gorgeous true colors.
  7. You can antique, top coat veg tan leather or add Atom Wax to pop dyed colors.
  8. To create unique finishes, paint veg tan leather with acrylic leather paint.
  9. You can mold and form veg tanned leather. The lighter the weight, the more detail you can get in the mold. The heavier the weight, you’ll get more durability, but less detail.
  10. Veg tan leather has to be natural in color is a myth. You can buy English bridle, holster, strap, harness, bridle and sole bend veg tan leather that is dyed and available in a number of colors.

What are the uses for vegetable tanned leather?

  1. Vegetable tanned leather is great for holsters, sheaths, belts, horse tack, handbags, totes, wallets, etc.
  2. Veg tan is the best choice if you want to tool, carve, dye, mold, groove and paint leather.

Leather Weight or Thickness

How to choose the right leather weight/thickness

  1. Expert leather crafter Chuck Dorsett suggests three basic weight groups for your projects.

  2. Leather weight – 8 to 9 oz., 1/8” or 3.5mm is standard belt weight

  3. Leather weight – 4 to 5 oz., 1/16” or 1.5mm to 2mm is standard pouch weight

  4. Leather weight – 1 to 2 oz. through 2 to 3 oz., 1/32” or 1mm. For chrome tan leather, it is the standard garment weight leather. For veg tan leather, it is the standard liner weight leather.

8 to 9 oz., 1/8” or 3.5mm is standard belt weight

  1. It has plenty of depth to stamp and tool.

  2. It is great for belts, holsters, laptop bags, saddlebags and the sky is the limit for project ideas.

  3. It is a durable leather weight but it will not mold as well as a lighter weight leather.

4 to 5 oz., 1/16” or 1.5 mm to 2 mm is standard pouch weight

  1. This weight provides beautiful molding and forming capabilities and the ability to make corners and molded designs.

  2. Great for pouches, cuffs, mystery braid cuffs, masks, traditional scabbards and purses.

1 to 2 oz. through 2 to 3 oz., 1/32” or 1 mm

  1. For chrome tan leather, it is the standard garment weight leather.

  2. For veg tan leather, it is the standard liner weight leather.

  3. Veg tanned leather will produce a great mold at this weight but it is not going to have a lot of body and thickness at this lighter weight.

  4. Great for tassels, 4 strand keychains, arm guards, liners and molding leather.

Important info about lining leather:

  1. When you have beautiful pieces of leather at this smaller 1 – 3 oz. weight and you want to make a project that requires a thicker leather (like a purse or holster), you can line that leather by using contact cement and adding another piece of leather. The resulting leather will look, feel and react as one piece of thicker leather.

  2. Just remember that when lining leathers, you can take just about any leather weight and bump that up to make a heavier weight.

  3. While learning how to work with leather weights you are going to mess up a project now and then. Just remember it is a learning process and will teach you about proper weights for different types of leather projects.

Learn more about leather thickness, see this comprehensive
Leather Thickness – Leather Weight Chart

Bloopers & Outtakes 2

You guys wanted more bloopers and Chuck delivered! Happy Friday, we hope this video puts a smile on your face and maybe gets you a good laugh to end the workweek.

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