Sanding leather

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Sanding leather - Buffing leather

Sanding leather involves applying an abrasive paper on a rotating roller to the surface (grain side) or reverse (flesh side). This results in a uniform surface. In the earlier times of leather production, such work was purely done manually.

When sanding the grain side, you get a light velvet-like pile. The leather is then called nubuck.

If a smooth leather is sanded to make the surface smoother, the tanner also calls this buffing. The flat sanding of scars in the leather, which results in nubuck, is also called buffing.


Nubuck is made by sanding rough (buffing) the grain side.

Corrected grain

Sometimes, buffing is carried out before applying a binder-based pigment colour layer and embossing the leather. The result is then a corrected grain. This technique is done to make skin damages invisible and to obtain a uniform grain pattern in order to reduce the cutting waste. Such leather is not classed as superior quality, because the finish and the embossing reduces softness and naturalness. Aniline leather and semi-aniline leather are not buffed and are rarely embossed and are therefore higher quality and more beautiful leather.

Some leathers are only slightly buffed and embossed and feel beautifully soft and warm. But they are an exception.

Pigmentierung-gepraegt-003.jpg Pigmentierung-gepraegt-002.jpg

Buffed and embossed leather. The hair pores are removed by buffing and embossing.

To test whether a finished leather has been previously sanded, the finish must be removed with a solvent. If a nubuck-like surface appears, the leather has been buffed before the finish application.


Under the colour layer, a slightly roughened surface appears. This leather was buffed.

Corrected grain - split leather 01.jpg

Under the colour layer, a heavily roughened surface appears. It is coated split leather.

Smoothing rough areas in the leather repair workshop

In many working steps the Leather Sanding Pad is used in the leather repair workshop.

Additional information