What is the difference between top grain leather and split leather?

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Cowhides are too thick to remain as they are so they must be split into thinner layers. There are two primary grades/cuts of leather: top grain and split grain. When a hide is split into layers, the surface layer is referred to as the top grain. It is approximately 3/64 inches thick and is the strongest, most durable part of the hide. However, it is also the most supple and soft part of the hide. The reason that the top grain is the most durable is because there are no consistent fiber patterns along which the hide can tear. Top grain leather can be processed into corrected grain leather, where surface imperfections are buffed and sanded out, then embossed to restore a natural-looking grain pattern. Full grain leather can also be made from top grain leather. This occurs when the grain of the leather is not mechanically altered and left in its natural state. The lower layer on the hide is called split leather. It is stiffer and less durable than top grain leather. However, is still ... more
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