How is leather made step by step?

Leather Manufacturing Process

The production of leather is a complex process that transforms raw animal hides into durable, versatile material used in various products from fashion to furniture. This detailed journey involves several stages, each crucial for achieving the desired quality and characteristics of the final product. Let's take a look at each stage of leather production to understand how raw hides are turned into the leather goods we enjoy.

Raw Material Selection

It starts with choosing high-quality hides from animals like cows, goats, sheep, and pigs. Factors such as animal health, cleanliness of the hide, and absence of marks or defects play a significant role in the selection process. This stage is crucial as the quality of raw material directly affects the final quality of leather.


Once selected, the hides undergo pre-treatment to prepare them for tanning.
Various processes are involved:

  • Soaking: Hydrates the hides, removing salt and dirt accumulated during preservation.
  • Liming: Removes hair and other keratin-based substances using lime and other chemicals, making the hide suitable for tanning.
  • Deliming: Further softens the hides by neutralizing excess lime.
  • Fleshing: Removes excess flesh and fat to ensure uniform thickness.


Fleshing removes extra flesh and fat from the hides, ensuring uniform thickness.
This process is usually carried out using fleshing machines, resulting in a clean and smooth surface, which is crucial for the next stages' proper absorption of tanning agents.


Splitting divides hides into multiple layers. The top layer, also known as the grain layer, provides the best strength and aesthetic qualities and is used for high-quality leather products. Lower layers, or splits, can be used for making suede or other leather goods.


Tanning is the process that converts perishable raw hides into stable, non-perishable leather. Various tanning methods are used, including chrome tanning and vegetable tanning, each yielding leather with different properties. Tanning agents like chromium salts or vegetable extracts are applied to the hides to stabilize them and impart desired characteristics.


After tanning, leather undergoes finishing processes to enhance its appearance and performance. These processes include dyeing, conditioning, buffing, and applying protective coatings or finishes.

Quality Control

Throughout the production process, rigorous quality control checks ensure that the leather meets industry standards and consumer expectations. Checks include colorfastness, strength, and uniformity of construction.

By combining traditional craftsmanship with modern technology, leather production ensures that the material maintains its premium, durable, and versatile status, used in various applications worldwide.