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Posted by pmw on

Welcome to Witt's Custom Saddlery .Check this space to see information about our products,leather care, and answers to questions we recieve.

LEATHER QUALITY-To most people,leather is leather-Not so! Leather varies greatly in quality, and accounts for one of the reasons some products are cheaper than others.For example, many people can't understand why a horse bridle made in India costs $35 or less, when an equivelant bridle made in Germany costs over $200. Granted, labor cost is a factor, but a big reason is the quality of leather used. A good German or English made bridle will endure years of severe use, while it's Asian counterpart may break before its even used.

So why are some leathers better than others?Mainly for two reasons-the way it was tanned and the quality of the original hide. Tanning leather is as much of an art as a science, much like making pickles or wine. The second factor is the quality and the condition of the raw hide . The hides must be properly cared for as soon as it's removed from the animal, or spoilage results. This is especially critical in warm climates since spoilage and insect damage can start almost immediately.The best leather comes from temperate climates.

So how do you tell good leather from bad? There is a wealth of misinformation out there on the web.There are also many different types of leather-some are better suited to some uses than others. For example, you would not want  a dress shoe made from the same leather as a briefcase and vise versa. The price and source are the best indicators. The best leathers come from Europe,with North American tanned leathers a close second. South American and Mexican leathers are generally considered to be mediocre, with Asian tanned leathers being the worst. Good leather will have a good aroma and feel supple when folded. Bend the leather sharply, grain(smooth) side up- if it cracks at the grain then it's poor leather.

Judging leather quality is not simple, even for experienced leather workers.  The quality of the finnished product depends on the quality of the materials used.The final test is how the product holds up under use. The safest course for the consumer is to buy products from proven, reputable sources who use only top quality materials, take pride in their craftsmanship, and are willing to stand behind their work. Any reputable maker should be willing to answer questions concerning the origin of his materials, and his craftsmanship.