Have you ever thought about how that leather belt or leather jacket you wear came to look the way it did? Many American leather products, including the ones sold by American Custom Leather, are completely handmade throughout the entire process. But, what does that process look like?


There are two main professions involved in producing leather and turning it into a fashionable or functional product – the tanner and the leatherworker. So, what’s the difference between these two professions and what role do they play in the leather making process? Let’s take a look.


What does a tanner do?


Although it may sound like an ancient profession, it is still an important industry today, although the methods used have become more sophisticated over time. The tanner is at the start of the leather making process. They are responsible for preparing the animal hide so that it is flexible and sustainable enough to use or wear. Raw animal hides will putrefy if they become re-wetted, and therefore are not suitable for long-term use.


Tanneries have supposedly been around for around 12,000 years. The process originally used the compound tannin, which is where it got its name, but now chromium is more commonly used in the modern tanning process since the 19th century. After the tanning process, the animal hide becomes stable enough to be used to craft leather goods.


What does a leatherworker do?


A leatherworker, also known as a leathercrafter, uses leather prepared by the tanner and turns it into a product that is ready for commercial sale. Leatherworkers shape the leather using tools such as stamps and bevelers to mold and carve the leather into an end product. This process may also involve dying or painting the leather to produce the desired color. The leatherworker will turn the plain leather materials into whatever product is required, from leather armor in medieval times to a leather jacket or leather belt for today’s fashion industry.


So, the main difference between the tanner and the leatherworker is the stage of the manufacturing process that they are involved in. A tanner produces the original material needed for the end product, and then the leatherworker uses that material to craft the product itself.


All the products sold on our site are handmade in the US through the process discussed here, so they’re all quality products crafted with care. Check out our website to browse our range of custom leather belts and personalized guitar straps. You can also contact us online if you’re interested in finding out more about our manufacturing process.


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