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Leather under a microscope

spectre6000

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187
Horween Butt Strip

Macro:
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90X:
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180X:
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270X:
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If I had to guess, I'd say this is probably horse. I say this based on features that are not exactly visible in the photos, namely the firmness and density of fibers. This is another corrected leather, only clearly with a different treatment. Honestly, not much else to say. It seems like a very high quality material, but under the scope it's almost featureless.
 
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spectre6000

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187
Shinki Horsehide

Macro:
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90X:
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180X:
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270X:
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Well, no TFL trophy for me from this angle. Looking at this top grain horse compared to the previously imaged top grain cow shows almost identical pore structure. Unless I guessed wrong on the briefcase lather identification (the one I'm basing this observation on), which is possible. I'll have to go back and look at some of the other better known samples. Pore shape, size, and grouping all appear pretty much identical.

I went back and looked at the briefcase and notebook cover. I know the notebook cover is cow, and I assumed the briefcase was as well. Looking at this the other known cow samples, and now some horse samples, I think the briefcase might be horse... Unfortunately, I'm past the edit window on that/those post/s. I would like to see more full grain horse samples before I call it, but I think the pore shape/size/grouping might make for a feature that can be used to tell the difference in full gain leathers. I'm not sure it can be easily done without a microscope, but I'll look into that soon.
 
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spectre6000

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187
Horween Cowhide (@Canuck Panda , any more details on this one?):

Macro:
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90X:
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180X:
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270X:
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EDIT: after seeing Canuck Panda's side by side compiled images, I think this doesn't call anything into question, and just helps make the case for the difference between horse and cow.

Then this one comes along and calls the previous assessment into question. The pore shape, size, concentration, and positional relationships are all entirely different from what's been seen elsewhere. This is a softer/spongier leather. I wonder where this came from on the critter relative to the others. Maybe some harrier area with finer hairs? Canuck Panda posted something that may clear it up while I was constructing this analysis, so maybe it's a bit more clear. I'll come back and edit again if that's the case.
 
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spectre6000

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187
Merino Sheepskin (glossy green)

Macro:
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90X:
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180X:
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270X:
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Combined with the glove on page 1, I think we can tentatively identify some defining features. Namely, the big flat spots between valleys. The non-round shaped holes, I believe, indicate this sheep had curly hair (is that a feature of merino sheep wool?). It's interesting to know that the gloss finish is epoxy. Sheepskin is notoriously fragile, so I wonder if that doesn't help fortify it a bit.
 
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spectre6000

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187
Horween Horshide

Macro:
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90X:
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180X:
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270X:
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Corrected with that waxy finish like the elk and the watchband on page 1. Tight, dense grain though. Not much else to say really. I'll have to go back and compare this to the elk images for density.
 
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spectre6000

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187
Horween Bison

Macro:
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90X:
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180X:
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270X:
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Appropriately, the pores on the bison look a lot like on the cow samples, only everything is bigger. Having never pet a bison, I'm going to guess they have coarser fur? There's also a bit of sponginess like the sheep, but that could be the way it was treated rather than anything specific to bison.
 
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spectre6000

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187
Badalassi Mingria Box Cow Hide(? probably got that wrong... Combination handwriting/correction and smudgy marker on plastic bag)

Macro:
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I opened my laptop with the 180X image being about all there was. I figured I'd play a game with myself to see if I could tell just from the image what species. I think I'm starting to get the hang of cow. This has that compressed and heavily oiled/waxed finish kinda like mine. That fine white grit has shown up in a few of these samples. Not really sure what it is, but I'm starting to think it must have something to do with the finishing process.
 
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spectre6000

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187
Fivestar Goatskin seal (not sure the color):

Macro:
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This is a seal coat finish, and I think it's pretty obvious what that refers to. You can see the pores all filled in with whatever it is. Probably has some water repellent qualities. Pretty thick stuff. The topography of it reminds me of the sheep hides we've seen with the pores in the valleys between big mesas. Sheep and goats are related, so that makes sense. Interesting that one is reputed to be especially tough, and the other is on the opposite end of the spectrum.
 
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spectre6000

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Bonus!

@Canuck Panda also sent me this jacket for use in the pattern making thread. Kinda seemed silly not to put it under the scope while I had it all set up. There are two different surfaces I wanted to look at though. It sounds like they underwent the same pre-treatment, and the only difference is the addition of an acrylic dye. It looks slightly blue.

Macro (dyed):
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Macro (undyed):
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180X dyed:
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270X dyed:
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270X undyed:
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You can see in the dyed 270X image where the dye has collected in a valley, and cracked like the goat seal coat. I think the undyed section probably also got a little dye as there's a hint of blue in the sheen, just didn't look like it at the macro level. What I don't see anywhere is any pores. I'm assuming this is cow, and it looks corrected. Canuck Panda said he did a bunch of stuff to try to improve the grain. I'm guessing the grain was probably stamped in. Might have been an effort doomed to failure. This is on a Vanson, and is a heavy jacket. At least according to my limited experience. Canuck Panda didn't seem to think too highly of the leather, and I'd be willing to bet these images didn't change his mind. It's not BAD, just not anything to write home about.
 
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spectre6000

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187
More images to comes. Some analysis as well, if I can come up with anything intelligent to say. That's all I have for now though. Huge thanks, obviously, to @Canuck Panda . I'm grateful for the chance to look at some of these fine and exotic leathers. Some of these are hides I've never seen or laid hands on. I had to look up what a Wapiti even is (turns out, it's a native American name for Elk, which are everywhere around here trouncing through peoples yards and whatnot, so I see them all the time, just never in this format). I'm looking forward to having a bit more time to get geeky with some of this stuff! Gotta see if I can find the difference between horse and cow at a minimum, so a deeper dive into that is on the docket for sure!
 

Canuck Panda

I'll Lock Up
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4,168
Very interesting! Thanks for the time.

The Horween Elk / red deer / Waipiti indeed is a game hide with lots of scratches and blenmishes and I can clearly see some light sanding on the whole hide, Here is the sample I sent you in relation to where it's taken on the whole hide, close to one of the front legs. I do love these game hides but they have lots of markings and always have spots smoothing to make it presentable. I would say same thickness 4.5oz+ in goatskin is a much better option too.
IMG_3196.JPG



The butt stripe is actually horsehide stripe right before the Shell, and is of CXL tannage. I am gonna make a wild guess that this is more membrane like the Shell than poros leather like the FQHH/ SH sides
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The Shinki sample is also taken from the spot right above the front legs:
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The Horween cowhide is a naked ish hide, their "Vermont" tannage, similar to Essex but less oil and more naked, Cowhides are usually "sides" not "fronts", but the sample was taken close to the neck.
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The merino sheep is shruken grain and heavy epoxy clear coat,
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The Horween Bison is very strong hide, sides, not fronts like horse.
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The horween horse is thick, I am surprised there is no pores, I will need to send you different cuts from different places to see if the whole hide has sanding or does it have different fiber structure?
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The Badalsssi is Minerva Box tannage and is fronts like horsehides, the Euro way of tanning vs US way of tanning... blurry photos sorry,
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The 5* goat has been "shrunken grained" by me, not hot water, but cold water soak, hand agitated, similar to what the merino is, I took the sample from one of the sleeves:
IMG_3200.JPG

I would say a shrunken grain goat with a black overdye will be the best bang for the buck.

Can we see a compare between horse and cow from the fiber side when you get a chance. Do they have different fiber structure from the flesh side?
 

spectre6000

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187
Lunch break.

First off, for anyone tuning in, I got the images up last night without any analysis. I was in production mode, and trying to make good on Canuck Panda's mutual curiosity. I'm going back through and editing the posts with analysis and detail as I find the time. It might take a few days. When I finish, I'll post to that effect with special attention to the date and time. This thread will be a bit asynchronous, but... What can you do? Best way I can think to hack everything together with the time and resources available.

Meanwhile... I just had a brainwave! The point here is to learn about the different leathers. There's species and tannage involved (Edit: and location on the critter). Most of my experience is with some of the most plain Jane vegetable tanned cow, and then I mess around with it with oils, waxes, sun, mechanically, etc. to meet my specific (not even close to jacket) applications. With these fairly exotic (by my standards anyway) hides to play with, there's a lot going on. If there are any mech-E or mech-E minded people here, chime in! I'm trying to think of other tests I can perform that can divine some of the various other properties involved. First though, I think it's a question of "what are the applicable properties in question?". Hardness, penetration resistance, shear strength, abrasion resistance, chemical resistance... There's a ton. Figuring out what properties exist is one thing, figuring out how to test and quantify them is another. I have finite samples, and some tests will be destructive; some will be differently destructive (i.e., puncture resistance and chemical resistance could be performed on the same sample in that order likely without any change in results). I'm seeking a brainstorming sesh here.
 

Canuck Panda

I'll Lock Up
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4,168
a quick side by side using your photos,

Bovine family, Horween Vermont (naked), Horween Bison (I forgot what tannage this was, but it feels dense, so I am gonna go with lightly shrunken with some oil and wax), Badalassi Minerva Box cowhide front shoulders
Image1.jpg


More Bovidae and one Cervidae
Horween Waipiti, 5* Goat, Merino shrunken grain sheep
Image7.jpg


Equine family, Horween CXL buttstripe, Horween FQHH vintage tannage, feels like the base for CXL without the dye, I'm not sure of the exact processes, Shinki standard, aniline
Image4.jpg


When I get more different leathers I will send to you.

On a personal note, I really like shrunken grain. This can be done at home. Basically is the concentrated repeated actions of wearing. But instead I just keep pulling the sleeves inside out and repeat. And grain will pop like crazy. I used to use cold water wet down first, but found conditioning does the same thing without the dry time. After repeatedly pulling the sleeves inside out, I get scrotum grains, not everyone's favorite but I dig the look:
IMG_3568.jpg
 

spectre6000

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Messages
187
OK. I did my thing. If you're following along, go back and check out the recent tranche of posts. Amateur analysis complete. Canuck Panda's side by side comparisons are especially interesting, and may have changed my mind on my identification of the briefcase leather. I assumed it was cow, because why wouldn't it be. Judging by what we have to go on here, I'm actually thinking it might be horse. We have in this thread potentially 5 horse samples, and a similar number of cow samples. Unfortunately, most of the horse samples aren't full grain... The sample size being so small, I'm not ready to call it, but it's looking like a tentative success re: finding a difference between the two.

I still need to figure out a way to rig up the samples on edge so we can see if there's anything meaningful to be learned from that angle. I have an idea, but haven't had time to attempt it. I'll go ahead and shoot at least one image of the flesh sides of these while I'm at it, because why not.
 

bolted

New in Town
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29
You must be that*:) interesting guy at the lounge.
I’d suspect lighting to be influential.
From what my menial online buying suggests.
Thanks for the insights.....
More to come I’d hope.....:)
 
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spectre6000

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You must be that*:) interesting guy at the lounge.
Thanks for the insights.....
More to come I’d hope.....
Hopefully that’s a compliment. I’m choosing to take it that way at any rate.

More to come will require having more samples to image. If anyone has anything lying around, let me know. Especially full grain horse, as that seems to be the differentiation people are interested in. If you have a jacket you’d like imaged, box it up with a label for return shipping, and I’ll make quick and respectful work of it. 80127 is my zip for calculating postage, FedEx is probably best avoided unless you package well enough to survive apocalypse by penetration… there’s an image for you…

I’m still working on getting samples from Fivestar for a jacket I want to have made (see the pattern making thread), and I’ll absolutely image what I get from them. I mentioned this thread and invited them to send the whole collection, but I think that might have confused things. I also think I finally discovered that I’ve been getting stuck in Shawn’s spam filter this morning. We’re on exact opposite sides of the clock, so it’s pretty much one exchange per day.
 
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spectre6000

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187
OK... Well... That was... Something... I used my helping hands (an electronics soldering aid) to hold the leather samples to where I could view them on edge. Getting the edge of a flexible material to get and stay in plane is REALLY HARD!!! On top of that, if the cut is even slightly less than perfectly flat, it's really difficult to get a complete slice through the material to be in focus long enough to get a photo. I totally killed the battery on my phone doing this, and still had 2 photos left! This will be similar to the most recent tranche in that I'm going to get all these dumped on here, and then I need to go make dinner.... Analysis will come later. For organization purposes, they will be in the same order as the previous tranche as well.
 

spectre6000

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187
Horween Wapiti
90X
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180X
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270X
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Looking through all of the photos, there are a handful, mostly horse, that have those thick, dark, beef jerky looking chunks deeper in the hide like this. I was starting to think that might be part of the "horse is tough" structure, and the elk has it too. There's a cow sample on the next page that has it though, and that throws me. I think it must be part of the tannage... Ignoring the dark chunkies, elk looks like it has pretty dense top grain like horse, just not as thick/uniform. Sorta fuzzes out more quickly. I'm sure if someone were the right kind of biologist, they could tells us "such and such is the epidermal/subdermal layers" or whatever. The only biologist I know that I could reach out to is an RNA researcher, and probably doesn't know too much about how macro-critters are assembled... Anyway, I think it's mostly the tannage, but with nothing else to go on, I think I like elk. Looks like it would be pretty tough. Sort of a halfway between horse (which I'm really starting to like) and cow.
 
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spectre6000

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187
Horween Butt strip
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270X
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So, from previous disambiguation, this is shell-adjacent horse butt. The whole deal with the shell is that it has a really dense grain. I've wondered what the actual "shell" structure is that is so special about that circular patch on the horse's butt. My guess has been that it's essentially what's shown in these photos, just really thick. It's neat to see just how dense it is though compared to more standard fare. Also, the fibers seem quite fine relative to other species. Most of the other leathers fuzz out at some depth. This is pretty much solid all the way through. It's one thing to read that horse is durable and feels this way and drapes that way; this shows the how and why. Horse is quickly becoming my favorite!
 
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