The leather tanning process is an ancient one—almost 10,000 years old. And yet, it can also be a massive damn mystery!

So Ashland Leather’s Phil Kalas—who put in over a decade at Horween Leather—stopped by the Shoecast to take us through the entire leather tanning process, and all its possible routes to creating beautiful leather for footwear (and everything else).

How does the veg-tanning process differ from chrome tanning? What’s a base tan and what’s a re-tan? How does grading work? Wet stuffing and hot stuffing? What are the different ways to dry hides and what does that affect? How does finishing go, and what’s the deal with crust leather?? Phil lays it all out, in a beautifully understandable manner.

phil kalas leather decision tree

Definitely check out Phil’s flow chart above as you listen—we walk through the whole thing in the episode. 

Even if you feel you know every single thing about leather, my suspicion is there’s a LOT to learn in this one. Give it a listen below!

And you can listen to this and every Shoecast episode on:

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Or check out the Shoecast archives right here


This episode was sponsored by Grant Stone, one of the best values in Goodyear welted footwear, period

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