James K

how does one tell genuine upholstery leather from "bonded" leather

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James K   

upholstery leather

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Halitech   

bonded will have a white fabric on the back from what I have seen while genuine doesn't. Granted I don't have a lot of experience with either so if that's not a way to tell, I wait for someone to explain it

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James K   

is genuine upholstery from furniture pieces usually located on the arms, seat areas, or where?

also, if you see the back of the leather does it feel rough like veg tanned leather sometimes does?

I am just trying to get an idea of what to look for when I find old leather furniture to use for bags and such.

Thanks in advance of ryour help and advice.

 

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I have skinned a lot of road side couch hides and provide the following observations:

  • real leather will look like suede on the back and the colour will match the outer discounting for flesh versus grain appearance
  • back of bonded will look like black or white or grey cloth or even have a foam like appearance and not be colour matched to the grain side.
  • back panels of couches that have no seams are not worth even looking at as they will be fake unless its a really really expensive throw away
  • if you check the back and it is fake then do double check the seat cushions as I have found sometimes the seat top is real, the back cushions sometimes and the arm tops sometimes. 
  • before I go town skinning on the road side I always check back then cushion. the arm rests are usually too small to worry about skinning.

I also connected with 4 local upholsters and explained who I was and what I do and now I get bags of leather dropped on my porch from when they redo a leather couch or I  drop by their shops every few months and pick up what they have on hand... worth a call since I have once be given all the hi end leather recently removed from a hi end couch before it ever made it to the house... the client didn't like the colour when it was on the couch so... they redid it and did have the heart to chuck all the good leather so I got it.

I drive the local neighbourhoods on Sunday night after weekend house cleaning action and there is usual a couch or chair to check out. I now have more than I can every actual use up.... doesn't mean I stop hunting though. I have some real beautiful stuff in bins.... carry a knife in the glove compartment. people stop to watch me skinning and often comment that it good to see the leather going to use rather than the dump...

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fredk   

I use a simple test.

Burn a bit. Take a bit about the size of a quarter, hold in pliers, apply a flame. Real leather will scorch and smell like burnt meat, bonded leather wil start to burn, give off black smoke with black particles in it.

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Follow Plinkercases advice to a T and you will be fine. Honestly unless your time is worth nothing or you get off on the recycling aspect I have just come to the point where it just isn't worth it to skin roadside leather. Also bed bugs, mites, mold, needles, urine... Nope. I will walk away from a lot of couches that at one point in time I would have gone after.

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if theres some mesh thats made out of fine threads thats embedded into the leather, then thats flat out Fake... no doubt.

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And let us not forget that every so commonly used "man made leather"; the ultimate result of recycling fiber, paper, and adding resins to it to create a paste that is then heated and compressed into a product that is intended to look like leather and even smell like it (amazing what they can do with chemicals to create the smell of leather).  

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18 hours ago, tomsmith85717 said:

Follow Plinkercases advice to a T and you will be fine. Honestly unless your time is worth nothing or you get off on the recycling aspect I have just come to the point where it just isn't worth it to skin roadside leather. Also bed bugs, mites, mold, needles, urine... Nope. I will walk away from a lot of couches that at one point in time I would have gone after.

Agreed on the hygiene issue....I am very choosey now and give them a good sniff test and at the risk if being judgmental I look at the house it is in front of.... I don't need any more but if I see a finish I like on the way to or from work I can skin it is less than 5 minutes. and that said I don't need any more really as I have lifetimes worth and my buddy keep dropping bags on the porch... so yes I go after much fewer roadside couch hide than I used to. Still I suggest contacting upholsterers in the neighbourhood unless you like the thrill of the hunt....

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5 hours ago, NVLeatherWorx said:

And let us not forget that every so commonly used "man made leather"; the ultimate result of recycling fiber, paper, and adding resins to it to create a paste that is then heated and compressed into a product that is intended to look like leather and even smell like it (amazing what they can do with chemicals to create the smell of leather).  

Lets not forget about reconstituted leather where industrial scraps are pulped, glued, embossed and coated with a thin vinyl. Legally its leather and a big part of the low end leather couch industry.

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1 hour ago, tomsmith85717 said:

Lets not forget about reconstituted leather where industrial scraps are pulped, glued, embossed and coated with a thin vinyl. Legally its leather and a big part of the low end leather couch industry.

I believe that is the material that is neither suede or cloth on the back side but looks almost foam like or like pressed sawdust...

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I mean it is just the Spam version of leather.

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10 hours ago, tomsmith85717 said:

Lets not forget about reconstituted leather where industrial scraps are pulped, glued, embossed and coated with a thin vinyl. Legally its leather and a big part of the low end leather couch industry.

Absolutely correct but I don't care whether it meets the legal definition of leather or not, it just ain't leather.  This type of fake product use is what has hit our industry and trade (the leather worker) and gives that consumer the information to question whether or not what we do is worth what we charge.  All I ever do is let them know that they can buy that fake thing pretty reasonably priced and keep doing so every once in awhile or they can have it made for them out of real leather and have it for life.  I even sat with a customer and calculated out how much they have spent (and will spend) on a cheapo wallet and when they found out that after 10 years they will have bought one of mine twice over they decided that it was worth it to have me make one for them because they would have it much longer and for much, much less overall.  Lightbulb moment.

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James K   

Thanks so much for alll your answers. I always learn so much from this forum.

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12 hours ago, NVLeatherWorx said:

Absolutely correct but I don't care whether it meets the legal definition of leather or not, it just ain't leather. 

I will toast to that! The problem with industrialization is you get fake (because its cheaper) versions of everything that doesn't need to be faked. Get the real one it will be better and last longer, unless the fake is better, I am looking at you synthetic engine oil (granted it is more expensive than the non fake stuff).

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