What Are Leather Grades?
Leather Grades, how they work and what are they for. In most cases the grading system for leather operates on an A to F scale, with A Grade leather being the best quality with no imperfections, and E Grade meaning that it has possibly as much as 40% imperfections in most cases. Anything above this is classed as unfit for purpose and is rejected by most tanneries which is F Grade.
No imperfections, marks, or scars. No visible defects in the central part of the skin; No sign of putrefaction; Free from dirt; Coming to the periphery of the skin or the legs or tail, ONLY ONE of the following defects is accepted: a. few defects caused by diseases, b. few defects from parasites, c. one branding mark, d. one wound open or cicatrised.
5-10% imperfection, in addition to defects in the periphery of the skin, on the legs and tail, defects are accepted in shoulder or bellies: a. a few defects caused by diseases, b. a few defects from parasites, c. one branding mark, d. one open or cicatrised wound few traces of putrefaction and some dirt is accepted in the periphery of the skin on the legs and tail.
10-20% imperfection, in addition to the defects mentioned for the second grade, the following defects are accepted in low/medium concentration in the best part of the skin (butt): a. a few defects caused by diseases, b. a few defects from parasites, c. a few branding marks, d. open or cicatrised wounds traces of putrefaction and some dirt are accepted except in the best part of the skin (butt).
20-30% imperfection, in addition to the defects mentioned for grade C, defects are accepted in low/medium concentration on the skin if they do not cover more than 30% of the total skin area!
30-40% imperfection, a. a few defects caused by diseases, b. a few defects from parasites, c. a few branding marks, d. open or cicatrised wounds traces of putrefaction and some dirt are accepted except on areas of the skin, defects are accepted medium/ large concentration on the skin if they do not cover more than 40% of the total skin area!
Factory Rejected, all skins presenting more defects than those accepted for the fourth grade and skins of which more than 50% of the area cannot be transformed into leather are classified as rejects. In addition, the following skins shall be included in the rejects: – Fallen skins – Untrimmed or poorly trimmed skins – Ground and ball dried skins – Smoked skins.
Leather Grading isn’t that simple, it’s not a matter of looking at a skin by a skilled tanner and say that’s this grade. It depends on many factors, such as, where in the world the animal is from, how it’s looked after, heat, cold, food types, water quality and so much more.
Then you get different skin qualities on different breads of animals. An animal with longer, more protective hair will have less damage than one with less hair, so the grading process becomes a science almost.
It also depends where on the animal the skin is from as to its quality, so again this can be graded as above on different sections of the animal. Some tanneries use a number grading system for this process, but in most cases No1 or Grade A is always the best grades the higher the number the lower the quality leather.
Skins have many different marks on the body, from insects, birds, dung, bruises, burns, branding marks, bites, ticks, ringworm, flay cuts, scratches, and warble marks.
In most cases everyone knows what most skin defects marks are, but often we are asked what warbles are. These are the Warble Fly, they lay eggs and they hatch very quickly, they migrate throughout the connective tissues, after a few months they travel back to the surface of the skin, this causes a lot of swelling, as the warble fly breaks through the skin, they leave holes on the surface. The warble fly is born and begins its life and cycle begins all over again.
Leather is predominately split into top grain split and bottom split; the bottom split is known as a drop split.
Depending on the thickness of the skin you can get a middle split also.