Splitting Leather Hides
When manufacturing leather work gloves, thick animal hides are split into multiple layers of leather, ultimately creating two distinct types of texture. More on this in a moment. Leather can be made from all kinds of hides and skin, which means you should pay attention to the details when purchasing leather gloves. Depending on where hides are split, the durability, dexterity, and overall longevity of a leather glove will be impacted. With that said, let’s get back to texture; have you noticed that different leathers have different textures?
Different textures occur as a result of the animal hide used, what part of the animal the leather came from, and which side of the leather hide was processed. We’ll cover this point more in each leather work glove page. Generally speaking, when a thick piece of leather is split into two thinner sections, the top part will have grain (“top grain”), and the bottom portion will be suede on both sides. The bottom piece is the split. Here is a breakdown on both types:
Grain Leather is the smooth, external top layer of the hide. Grain leathers are not buffed or sanded, which means they have a more appealing appearance. They also offer the following advantages:
- Best fiber strength, overall quality, and durability, which means they last longer.
- Gives users a softer feeling glove for greater dexterity and all-day comfort.
Example of Top Grain vs. Split Leather
Split leather is the rougher, inner side of the leather that remains after the outer layer is removed. Because of its coarse hide and dense fiber structure, split leather provides users with the best heat, abrasion, and puncture resistance. Another nice thing about split leather is that it is less expensive and offers more significant gripping properties in oily conditions. Split leather holds up better to absorption, due to the thicker leather.
Split leather is divided into three categories depending on where on the animal it comes from:
Shoulder Split Leather (Better) - a more economical choice, its lower price point comes from the fact that it’s a less durable leather.
Side Split Leather (Best) - this part of the leather is the most durable and provides the best protection.
Once the hides are split, separated, and the leather grades are distinguished, two types of leather work gloves emerge: Leather Drivers Gloves and Leather Palm Work Gloves. Leather drivers mostly use the grain side, with some exceptions. Split leather is utilized to create full split-grain drivers, as well as combinations of a grain leather palm with a split back. Leather palm gloves use the split side of the hide and are comprised mostly of cowhide. We break down each type on separate pages across our leather work gloves section.
And remember, there are different grade qualities of leather within each category. When purchasing leather gloves, pay particular attention to the grade of leather to ensure you’re getting a product that is tough enough for what you need. We cover this and more in our Leather Knowledge Center. Feel free, at any time, to jump to the Leather 101 section found in our Leather Knowledge Center. There we outline all of the core parts of a leather work glove, all in one spot. You can go directly there at any time and can navigate to it from the bottom of every page.
At this point, though, you may be looking at the ten different leather work glove pages we’ve created and asked yourself some questions. For one, didn’t we say there are only two types of leather work gloves?
At the core of a leather work glove, yes, there are only two different core types. However, there are a handful of leather gloves within these two types that meet different workers’ needs. Some leather forms superior heavy-duty work gloves, whereas some leather equips workers with excellent dexterity, like our 3601 goatskin drivers. Some leathers resist moisture well, while others are naturally softer. There are some designed to increase your visibility on a job site and some designed to protect your back-of-hands. Simply put, there is a leather glove for almost any application you can imagine.
Let's get you into the right pair of leather work gloves you need to protect your hands at work! We’ve broken down each different type of leather glove on its page, making it easier for you to locate the leather glove you need.