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Our custom leather shop has relocated to Colorado, but only select products are currently available to order. More products will be available each week.

Leather Facts

Leather Isn't All the Same

Whether you're buying a product made from Elk, Deer, Buffalo, or Cowhide, you need to know what kind of quality you are buying! Chilhowee leather motorcycle accessories are made from FULL GRAIN leather!

Top Grain Leather (inferior)

The most confusing term used in the furniture industry is the term "top grain'. It can be a contradiction because it often implies what it is not. "Top grain" is the definition that is generally used when the grain is not genuine: when the real grain is sanded away and an imitation grain is stamped into the leather. When the genuine grain remains, the leather is called "full grain" or " full top grain, " not simply" top grain."

Webster dictionary offers nearly a hundred definitions for the word "top". They include: the highest point, the summit, the best, the upper-surface, the lid, the supreme, the choicest part, the cream, the pick. It also means to excel, to surpass, to dominate or to be superior to the rest. When one hears the term "top grain" it's reasonable to assume it's the best. But if the real grain is gone, can that be true? If the real grain was removed and replaced by an imitation grain, the result is neither the best nor the uppermost.

If you want the best, insist upon leather that retains the entire original grain. Insist upon receiving the full grain. Top grain is generally not the tops!

Full Grain Leather (the best)

Just as the grain, texture and markings of wood should reveal the nature of the tree from which it came, leather should display the natural markings and grain characteristics of the animal from which it was taken. The best leathers are clear, clean, and supple. They are also dyed through with transparent aniline dyes. The full natural grain is retained and they are called "full grain leather."

Cheaper leather has the natural or genuine grain sanded away and an imitation grain pressed or embossed into the surface. They are stiff and "boardy" with a heavy coating of pigmentation to cover up imperfections and they look and feel much like plastic.

The better the quality of hide or skin, the less it has to be treated. The natural grain variations should be exposed. One should see the "fat wrinkles" and the feel or "hand" should be supple and natural to the touch.

So when choosing your leather, make sure it looks natural, smells good, and has a soft hand. Inspect your leather carefully. Make certain that it retains the full natural grain.

Full grain leather - it is the tops!

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