Our great quality leather must go through a thorough finishing process before it can be applied to your furniture. Here, we bring you a step by step guide to the leather finishing process for added peace of mind when choosing a piece of Chesterfield furniture.
The Rawhide stage is the first step in the process – a term used for raw leather which has been removed from the carcass of the animal before being cured.
The leather is transported to the tannery, where the fat and flesh deposits are removed from the hide in a process known as the beam house process. The process is so called as traditionally, the deposits were removed by laying the hide over an oak beam before scraping with a sharp knife to remove them. Today, this is predominantly performed by machine, due to the improved capability of precision and speed.
Liming is the next stage, which sees the hide – complete with hair – get placed in a large drum and spun with a lime or calcium carbonate solution to avoid putrefying of the skin. This process makes the hair and any other remaining protein deposits soluble, meaning it can then be simply washed away. Excess lime is now removed in a process known as de-liming and the hide will be enzyme treated to remove any final proteins (bated).
Now we move onto step two, in which the hide is bathed in chromium salts which are absorbed into the skin. The hide has now reached the wet blue stage, so called as the salts turn the hide a blue shade.
The hide will now be assessed for quality by an experienced professional, who will carefully select certain hides for grade one or top quality applications, going on to select others for more durable applications.
At this stage, the leather is now separated into layers; the top layer is the most luxurious aniline or full grain leather, the next layer or corrected grain is the most commonly used in furniture production, and the lower levels are the lower quality split leather. The hide is then shaved in order to create a consistent thickness, and it is then re-tanned and re-dyed using oils, dyes and speciality products. This process adds colour, giving the hide further lubrication and creating a supple, leather texture.
Using a specially-equipped oven, the leather will now be stretch dried.
In the third and final stage of the leather finishing process, the hide will gain its final surface finish. It will be coated with pigment dye, which penetrates deep into the leather, giving a beautiful finished colour to the hide. The hide is then re-dried and coated with a final fix coat to protect the achieved finish, before the leather is pummelled or dry milled. This works to soften the hide, before it is ironed and ready for despatch.