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Something for the ladies

womens leather handbag

Over the past few weeks I had the urge to update a few designs in the shop. One popular request was for a simple Women’s Handbag with straps on either side. Above is my take on that idea, a simple and elegant bag made with high quality Full-Grain Leather and no stitching to break! The leather gives it a rustic feel as you can see some imperfections on the surface – basically it retains a lot of unique character (full grain has not been sanded down to remove blemishes).

womens handbag

The Handbag measures approximately 13 inches wide x 9.5 inches tall x 2.5 inches deep on the exterior (330mm x 241mm x 64mm). The hand straps measure 9.5 inches from the top of the bag to the top of the straps. The inside is wide open to throw all your daily needs in there. I don’t line the insides of my bags for one simple reason – I use high-end leather that holds up really well over time. Typically bags are lined to hide imperfections and tears in the leather, or protect low grade leather from rubbing through.

All solid brass rivets with a nickel plating mean this bag will stay strong for a lifetime a use. Available in time for the holiday season here.

handmade leather tote bag

The design above is just a simple tweak on my original tote bag. I have updated all totes with a simple snap closure on the top – a much requested feature over the past year. The snap helps keep the top nicely cinched closed while you shop.

The shoulder strap is fully adjustable and cut to wear high up or lower near your waist.

tote bag with snap closure

Just like the handbag above, the tote is also unlined because of the high-end leather. It is extremely durable and simply does not need it. The tote measures approximately 13 inches wide x 9.5 inches tall x 2.5 inches deep on the exterior (330mm x 241mm x 64mm).

riveted tote bag

All you ladies out there, make sure to treat yourself this holiday season (and dudes, this is a very simple and well received gift if you are stumped!).  You can find the Women’s Handbag here and if you are looking for the tote, just click here.

 

New Addition to Large Bags

holding the large handmade leather briefcase

Over the past few weeks I have been working on new versions of all of my larger work bags. They now each have an alternate style with strapped exteriors. This gives more of the briefcase style of look and adds the capacity to handle even heavier loads. So, if you’re looking for an over-built workbag made to last 100 years…you should checkout my current designs in the shop.

mens large leather briefcase by Mr. Lentz

This is the largest of the bags I make, and I currently use it myself on a daily basis. It fits my food for the day, a large water bottle, jacket, and miscellaneous supplies and packages I need to bring to the workshop. It’s available in the pictured Western Brown as well as Sun Tanned Natural and Desert Night Dark. The Tan and brown both develop rich patinas over time and the color will continue to darken.

carrying the mens leather duffel

The Men’s Duffel Bag does the trick for overnighters, and general carry. It’s a bit deeper than the large work bag, but not as tall. Of course – each come with the optional interior storage.

mens leather duffel bag

 

carrying mens leather work bag

Finally, here’s the Men’s Work Bag. I know, I know – they all have similar names! They may change at some point too, but let’s just keep it at that for now. This bag works great for the average guy carrying his goods to work. It can be built with an optional shoulder strap as well (not pictured).

mens work bag leather brown bag

As with all of my goods int he shop, these come with my 100 Year Guarantee against defects. Basically – I will repair it if something needs it. All are handmade per order.

7 Tips on Finding the Best Leather Wallet

how to find the best leather wallet

For seven years now I have been working with leather and creating rustic and durable leather wallets. I’ve seen what works, what doesn’t and I’m about to impart some of that information on you my friend! In the world of wallet making you should know that there are a lot of corners manufacturers can cut to save on cost, I’ll point out the most obvious ones for you here.

Type of Leather

If you follow my blog, or have read a lot of my product descriptions you will see that I push the term Full-Grain Vegetable-Tanned leather a lot. I cannot stress how important it is to buy a leather wallet that is made from this style of leather tanning. It is undoubtedly the strongest form of leather a wallet maker can use for at least two reasons.

First, Full-Grain means that the section of leather being used is the outermost layer of the cow’s hide. This is the surface layer and is extremely densely packed with fibers, so much so – that it is practically indestructible. This is the only layer of leather that will still contain original scars from the cow’s lifetime. It’s the layer that helped that cow weather storms and lay on tough ground its whole life. This is the most expensive layer of leather a maker can buy due to its toughness. A lot of manufacturers will go down a grade to ‘Top-Grain’ for two reasons: it is much cheaper, and all of those imperfections and scars have been sandblasted smooth. What the buyer should know, is that ‘Top-Grain’ leather has much looser fibers and will shed, deteriorate and wear through fairly quickly.  Here’s another post I wrote on leather types.

Second, Vegetable-Tanned leather is the way in which the hide has been treated and preserved for use in leather goods. Vegetable Tanning is an ancient natural process of soaking hides in pools of water with tree barks. The natural tannins help to preserve the leather without compromising the strength of the leather fibers. That basically means that your leather product may start out slightly firmer, but will break-in very quickly and soften up as the fibers relax and stretch. Vegetable Tanning takes quite a bit longer than other chemically induced processes and as such…costs more. A lot of manufacturers will choose to use a much cheaper tanned leather instead called ‘Chrome Tanned’ or even ‘Genuine Leather’ or ‘Bonded Leather’. It’s as bad as it sounds, harsh chemicals and all! The chemicals in chrome tanning actually help to break down the fibers in the hide allowing the leather a softer supple feel from the beginning. While customers love that feeling of soft leather, what they don’t realize is that since the fibers were broken down unnaturally…the product will not last that long and tend to wear through much more quickly – as well it’s fairly bad for the environment! Plus – chrome tanned leather will not patina nicely and age with use. Genuine Leather or Bonded Leather, is basically just finely ground up scraps of leather pressed into large industrial sheets using glue. Again, it’s cheap and it’ll fall apart!

finding the best leather wallets

Style of Construction

The vast majority of wallets out there are stitched together. I will admit, I do like the look of a nice stitch job. There are two things to note about that though: how was it stitched, and well…stitching always wears out at some point. Most stitch wallets are manufactured using leather sewing machines and this can be a big hidden problem for the customer. Sewing machines use what is called a ‘Lock Stitch’ and without getting too technical I will just say this: if one thread breaks on a lock stitched wallet…the entire wallet will unravel quickly. Hand stitching is much better than a machine but you still have to consider the tragic flaw of thread being used on a leather item that gets heavily abused. Have you ever had a wallet where the thread broke? So have I and pretty much everyone else I have ever encountered. That’s why I started designing riveted wallets. By the time that rivet wears through… you’d probably be 450 years old! Seriously though, a wallet is the most worn and beaten up leather item a person will own. It needs to be built with  materials that wont wear out. So, you decide – would you like metal or thread to hold it together?

Quality of Materials

We already touched on the types of leather, but how about where that leather came from? And how about any hardware used with it like rivets, snaps, grommets, chains, clips? Where the leather comes from plays in as a huge factor as far as quality goes. There are thousands of tanning companies across the globe…and most of them are not doing such a great job. The local cows could be malnourished and produce poor hides, local regulation might be too loose for environmentally sound tanning, the cuts of leather and coatings on it will vary drastically from batch to batch…it’s a giant crapshoot. I personally only source from one U.S. tannery that’s been in the business for more than a century now. It costs quite a bit more but they make very well tanned hides from U.S. cattle.

The hardware used on wallets is very important too. Leather does not respond well to rusting items and as such you should only choose wallets made with solid brass or stainless steel hardware. Solid brass currently is a bit pricey, but well worth it in the longrun. Many other manufacturers will cut corners there and use cheap metal alloys. It might look nice for the first few months….

made in the USA

Location of Construction

In general I like to always push people to support their local makers from their own country. I mean why not? The money stays in the local economy and benefits everyone. There’s another reason though and I will admit that I am a bit biased here – for most countries in the world it is hard to get their hands on American materials and hardware, which are known to cost more and be of a higher standard in general. Also – who is making that wallet anyways? In today’s world it’s easy to pass off a wallet as being made from a local maker in another country…but if you dig into their site, blog, social media…is that really the case? Large manufacturers are using marketing techniques to pass off mass produced items as being handmade by small shops, surprise surprise!

Maker Warranty

Does the maker behind the wallet you want offer a good warranty for fixing it down the road? Lots of things can happen to that wallet, and sometimes there’s a defective piece of leather or hardware – will they replace or repair it? You want to find a maker that stands behind their work and is in it for the longrun. All warranties are not created equal though – keep in mind how big or small the shop is. Some makers that are very small and treat wallet making as a hobby can give great personalized customer service in cases like this…but will they still be around 5 to 10 years from now if you need some repair work done?

Small Shops vs. Big Box Stores

Kind of a continuation of the last section, you will need to keep in mind how little or big the shop is that you are buying from. The pertains to the warranty, but also to the customer service you are likely to receive. Very large stores typically have great 30 day + return policies, but after that you are on your own. They also tend to only sell mass produced items that have many corners cut to save on cost. Buyer beware! Then you have the very little guys just making as a hobby. Again – great customer service, probably good warranties, but will they be around to help you out in the next 5 to 10 years? A small to medium sized maker will be more established to follow through on their warranty and typically they still have the time to offer great customer service.

How Minimal Can You Go

It comes down to what do you really need to carry? Over the years I have pared down the items in my wallet to only the cards I actually use, a small stack of cash and a few random receipts that tend to float around for months at a time. For me – I found that carrying too much was very uncomfortable. I used to put my old wallet in my back pocket and sit on it with lots of cards, ID cards, cash, etc.. I think chiropractors love meeting patients like that. When you slim the contents of your wallet down, you can also use a simpler wallet…and you can put that wallet in your front pocket without the bulge. Most of my wallets are designed to do this quite easily. I reduced the number of ‘pockets’ and put in card slots to help save on thickness. In the end everyone is different, but make sure to make that decision of which style you need after you have pared down your own items.

Summary

In the end there are a million manufacturers of wallets, most of them cutting corners to provide a dirt cheap piece of leather that will ultimately wear out and break on you after a year or two. Usually cheap ain’t the best option, and in the longrun it usually isn’t cheap since you tend to have to re-purchase more often. Make sure to choose a wallet from a maker who knows how to find good quality Full-Grain Vegetable-Tanned leather, solid brass hardware and a construction technique that will last through the beating a wallet takes. Find a maker who stands behind their work with a warranty for repair and make sure to find one that will be in it for the longrun. Lastly, pare down what you actually need to carry, and then you can use a better designed wallet that will be much slimmer and easier to carry.

If you need a starting point, you can take a look at my online shop here, and please feel free to ask questions in the comment section below, or email me!

New Stainless Steel Chain for Leather Wallets

 

 

It’s been several years since I first introduced the chain versions of many of my leather wallet designs, and now I am adding a new option. If you are looking for something bigger, stronger and made of stainless steel, well – I found the perfect chain for you. The original version ‘Option A’ was picked for its minimal and light nature. It serves its purpose quite well and suits the needs of most chain wallet wearers. After some time and a few special requests for another option, I found this stainless steel version. It’s slightly heavier, but includes a solid stainless steel clip at the end. I am always looking to improve my leather goods and generally add things to the shop when y’all start asking for the same things. That’s the beauty of being a small U.S. leather workshop I guess!

Above shows you the two options in action to give you a better idea of how they compare. These two options are now available on all wallets that have a chain option.

Concealed Wallet

concealed carry walletThe newest design to hit the shop this past weekend: The Concealed Wallet. It’s exactly that, concealed and safe from pickpockets. Designed with a simple strap that snaps around your belt with two solid brass snaps, the wallet then drops behind your pants keeping your cash and cards safe from prying hands. The idea for this came about after I found myself traveling in different cities with a higher likelihood of being in large crowds. Another perfect use for this security travel wallet would be during a night out at the bar or concert.

concealed travel wallet

The exterior of the Full-Grain Leather concealed wallet was made so that there are no edges to catch while slipping into your pants. Double brass snaps also help to secure the contents inside.

This concealed travel wallet can hold around 7 cards, or 5 to 6 with some cash.

 

concealed carry wallets

Available in three natural colors, I also have a version without the strap if you prefer to use this just as a regular card wallet.

concealed wallet steps

Aged Leather Holster

Aged leather gun holster

I do like experimenting with leather projects in my free time. Sometimes it can take a little kick in the butt for me to get a project started at home after a long day’s work in the leather workshop. What this does for me, creating things that aren’t for sale and just for fun, it gives me a bit more artistic freedom. It allows me to challenge myself with new leatherworking techniques and processes. My latest thing has been to keep creating the same leather gun holster over and over, but each time my goal is to improve some things about it.

western aged gun holster

On this holster I wanted to improve my stamping ability, as well as leather dyeing techniques, and the ageing process. I’ve made three holsters so far and each time the stamps come out just a little better than the last time. I picked a simple pattern to re-create and certainly helps a lot.  When dyeing, I decided to try a spray gun technique and layer on different amounts of light dye overlapped with darker dyes. I think I still have a ways to go to get the effect I was aiming for. As for ageing, there’s a lot of fun ways to do that to a leather item. You can use hot water, sandpaper, nails, concrete, oils, and much more to make the piece look like it has had a full life. I think my next project will be an aged looking gun belt to match the holster, then…repeat!

 

cowboy gun holster aged leather

If you’re making something out of leather at home, let me know in the comments below, and feel free to ask any questions.

Cheers!

Mr. Lentz

Large Bags Interior Storage

It’s kinda strange writing a blog post about an interior storage option for my large bag designs, but the truth is, you gotta check it out! Not quite as easy as it first seemed to design these pockets. The challenge was really in making a version that would hold the majority of what my customers need to carry, without being too bulky, but also being able to fit in each large bag design while being removeable.

Well, I figured it out, built it, tested it, and love it. The storage addon features two pockets, each measure about 6 inches wide x 5 inches tall. One pocket has a flap with simple press stud closure, and the other is open and convenient to throw a phone in for quick access. I also attached a small keyring to the open pocket for those that need to clip your keys onto. I find it keeps them out of the way, but still easy to find at the end of a long day.

The storage addon snaps into the bag using 6 military grade snaps. The result? They wont release unless bygolly you are ready for them to. In which case, you can take the storage out when needed to fit even more bulky items. That’s about all I have to say about storage addons, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or email me. Cheers!

New Large Bag Design

mens leather briefcase

Well I’d like to tell you all about a new bag design I added to the shop. It’s now certifiably the largest leather bag in the series I recently released. After many requests to up the ante on my briefcase design, we now have the Large Leather Work Bag.

Large Leather Work Bag

It stands taller, wider and much deeper than my original briefcase design. Measuring a handy 17.25 inches wide x 12 inches tall x 7 inches deep on the exterior. It will easily fit your laptop, books, food, notebook…and all your small items with the addon interior storage pockets.

briefcase storage

The interior storage was built to hold your phone in an easy access open pocket, as well as any loose items in a closable flap. I also attach a small keyring to the side in case you need to clip your keys in there for easy access.

Tough briefcase

The Leather Work Bag is built just like every item in the shop…to last. It comes with my 100 Year Guarantee for any defective material or craftsmanship. The rivets are all solid brass with nickel plating, and there ain’t a stitch in sight! That means, nothing to repair or break down the road.

The main body section is one long continuous piece of leather. It’s a valuable cut for my shop, but with less seams it means it’s a stronger product overall. The buckles are all stainless steel. The shoulder strap is adjustable and can easily be unclipped from the bag for storage.

What else can I tell you really, this is now my personal choice for going to and from the workshop every day. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to email. I am usually around and can answer quickly. Or just leave a comment below so everyone can benefit.

Getting Out

For all the misery that a mosquito can cause, it sure can keep you in the present. Have you ever been lost in thought about the future? Or maybe a bit stuck overthinking an event in the past? My advice – go find some mosquitoes, they will make you forget all that.

Mosquitoes will limit your thoughts to only what is happening right now. You see, this little bug has an endless urge to land on any of your exposed skin and take your blood. It’s in our nature to keep that from happening, so when 100’s or even 1,000’s descend on you when you’re out in the woods – you have no choice but to fight them off. Everything else goes out the window and an intense focus ensues, you must avoid their needles. You must move, swat and sway constantly. You divert their paths, dodge them, and blow them away, but one thing you do not do is think about anything else.

That’s the conclusion I have come to while out in the Sawtooth Wilderness of central Idaho this past week – enjoying the eclipse with my girlfriend. Yep – mosquitoes do have a point in life after all, and it’s a positive one. So the next time you find yourself frustrated, annoyed and overwhelmed by their persistence… remember the subtle rejuvenating effect that they are having on you. They take you away from all worries and keep you there as long as you can stand them. It’s nature at its best and it’s how I have slowly been growing my understanding of why I love being outdoors so much. It’s the suffering as much as the views and isolation. It’s learning to appreciate nature from all angles.

While backpacking I am usually wholly involved in the route, the terrain, cooking meals, treating drinking water, setting up camp, hanging bear bags, and a lot of other simple and rewarding tasks. I’ve always loved all that for what it is, simple things that while keeping me busy are also fairly important for a successful journey. I tend to feel more human when I am out there, perhaps it’s just being in the sunlight and the wind. Maybe it’s waking up in the middle of the night and walking out under the stars. You tend to get this feeling of being more connected with the earth itself, like you belong here. That feeling was well-amplified during the eclipse this trip. It’s almost kind of weird to feel more, well – human.

That said – I am back in the shop. There was a short delay there in orders, but we should be all caught up now. In the works over the next week or so – a brand new bag design, the biggest yet! It’s kind of like a large briefcase, plenty of room to fit it all. Also – some new interior storage options for all of my bag designs. It’s an optional addon to help keep the interiors organized. Come on back towards the end of next week and I should have some more news on that end. Cheers!

How to Make a Leather Holster

leather holster tutorial

Consider this a practical and quick how-to guide on how to make a leather holster. I have trimmed down all the steps to only those necessary to make this a simple and fast weekend project. I’ve written several other tutorials over the years, so if you like this one – you can see the others over here. This is a fairly simple project and you will learn basic template skills, leather cutting, leather finishing, and stitching.

There are many ways to make a leather holster, certainly ones that are quite a bit more precise as what I’m about to show you. However I realized after going through a bunch of those long and detailed posts, it kinda took the fun out of making the holster and made it a bit stressful. So – what I’ve done here is kind of took the key points and made them into an easy to follow guide to setting up your template.

leather holster tools diy

First let’s start with the necessary tools for the job. Now assuming you are putting a gun in this holster…you might want to get your gun first. Mine’s a replica 1873 Cavalry Single Action Revolver, it’s a non-firing type, which makes this projects a bit, um safer perhaps?

Basic tools needed from left to right:

  • Poster board for the template
  • Pencil
  • Rolling blade with a larger diameter
  • Gun
  • Sharp Scissors or leather shears
  • Metal ruler
  • Razor blade

leather holster tools diy

In the image above, I decided later on that you don’t actually need all of these items, so I will note that below:

  • Leather glue (not needed)
  • Clips (not needed)
  • Stitch line creaser
  • Stitch wheel (not needed if you have the next tool)
  • 4 Pronged diamond punch awl
  • Mallet
  • Waxed thread
  • Two leather needles – these have a blunt tip
  • Stitching pony – to hold your piece while stitching

That’s about all that is needed if you want to do a crude job of getting this holster made, but if you want a more refined look, checkout the next set of tools:

leather holster tools diy

  • Hole puncher, or hole punch set – helps cut out tight corners with thick leather
  • Edge beveler size 2 – rounds the edge of the piece to look more finished
  • Drum sander – helps even out uneven cutting
  • Cocobolo wood burnisher with a bit of waxed canvas taped on – make burnishing and polishing your edges a breeze
  • Weighted mallet – used to  hit the stamping tools
  • A few random leather stamping design tools – just for looks really
  • Swivel knife – carves designs or reference lines into the leather before stamping it

As well you will need some leather. I recommend Full-Grain Vegetable-Tanned leather at about 9 – 10oz. thickness. Leather dye is also optional if you want to darken the leather – though this will also happen naturally over time with sun exposure and exposure to oils and use. Also, get a cup or so of olive oil, or a good leather conditioner. I sell some that I make in the shop, but I only make it in small quantities. As well – a few paper towels and a sponge.

PART 1: The Template

First grab your posterboard paper. Actually…first – empty your gun out and make sure there are no bullets in it or the chamber, etc… My gun happens to be a non-firing replica, so I’m fairly safe there, unless I drop it on my toe. It’s fairly heavy!

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Father’s Day Gift Guide for Leather Goods

Let’s face it…dads are notoriously hard to buy for. Your father may tend to already have everything they need, have way too many interests to keep track of, or simply aren’t good at telling you what they want.

But more often than not, the best gifts for Father’s Day are ones that are useful, timeless, and suit his lifestyle. Without a doubt, and I may be a bit biased here, the most versatile gift for guys that I can think of is leather. My leather wallets, bags and accessories are built to last for the modern businessman, the rugged handyman, the outdoor adventurer, the jet setting traveler, and every dude in between.

So, without further ado, here are my top picks from my shop for leather Father’s Day gifts your dad will love.

 

Mens Leather Wallet

Every dad needs a leather wallet, but not just any wallet will do. Your dad deserves to carry his cash and cards in something of high quality, something that isn’t fussy, and something that’ll last him for many future Father’s Days, with a 100 Year Guarantee included.

This minimalist wallet is slim, yet functional, and able to hold about ten cards and a stack of cash. Take your pick of Western Brown, Suntanned Natural, or Desert Night Dark colors, and it’s also available with an optional solid steel, nickel-plated chain.

Specs dad will love:

  • Free tin of leather conditioner included
  • Made by hand in the U.S. with Full Grain Leather
  • Can be personalized with a name or initials
  • Approximately 3.25 x 4.25 inches when folded
  • Includes 100 Year Guarantee

 

mens leather wallet

Mens Leather Wallet Plus

Just like all fathers are unique, so is every dad’s wallet needs. That’s why I offer another wallet option that I like to call the Mens Leather Wallet Plus. This one, slightly more minimal than the previous, has a fully separated section for bills, two card slots to hold six cards and a couple card pockets for four more. This is a great pick for dads who carry a bit more around with them and who love staying organized.

Specs dad will love:

  • Hand-Dyed, oiled and waxed with natural ingredients
  • Perfect mix of minimal + functional
  • Same color, chain, and personalization options as the previous wallet

 

Mens Leather Briefcase

Men who enjoy things that last will love this leather briefcase that makes going to work just a little more enjoyable each day. With full-grain vegetable tanned leather held together with solid brass rivets and hardware, this bag can withstand whatever gets thrown in dad’s way. He can carry this manly masterpiece with a handle or adjustable shoulder strap and feel confident that everything is secure and in place.

Specs dad will love:

  • Measures 15.5 inches wide x 11.25 inches tall x 3 inches deep
  • Fits most 15” laptops
  • Slim back pocket for magazines
  • Virtually indestructible by using solid brass rivets instead of stitching
  • Wide shoulder flap to distribute weight for maximum comfort

 

Leather Passport Wallet

For the world-traveler dad who never sits still very long, my Leather Passport Wallet will make the perfect Father’s Day gift. It’s slim, lightweight, and the most convenient way to pack his passport, plane ticket, cards, and cash.

Specs dad will love:

  • Measures 5.25 inches tall x 4 inches wide
  • Fits in his front pocket to reduce the risk of theft
  • Double passport design also available if dad has a travel a partner
  • Includes a free tin of my natural leather conditioner

 

 

Mens Toiletry Bag

Whether your dad is traveling to distant lands for vacation or just staying at a relative’s house for the night, he needs a reliable toiletry bag. I created this toiletry bag / dopp kit to hold all of a guy’s essentials with extra room and an optional interior storage pouch to stay organized.

Specs dad will love:

  • Measures 9.5 inches wide x 4 inches tall x 5 inches deep on the exterior
  • Optional interior storage pouch to keep the small items
  • Personalize it with a branded or stamped name on the handle
  • Plenty of room for his toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, hair gel, etc.
  • Easily fits inside a suitcase or duffel bag

 

Leather Keychain Strap

Dads are known for carrying lots of keys around, and my Leather Keychain Strap is perfect for guys who have lots of stuff to unlock. He can clip it onto his favorite pants with the belt loop, or just hang the strap on the wall for later. This is an easy and affordable handmade gift that’ll really show your dad he’s special. Make sure to get his personalized too.

Specs dad will love:

  • Measures 7.75 inches from tip to tip
  • Keys attach with a screw in pin
  • Stamp or brand it with up to 10 letters or symbols

 

Well there certainly are a number of items in my shop that could work for all those fathers out there, have a look at the shop when you get a chance and please feel free to contact me with any questions!

Why Does Leather Smell?

Whether it’s brand new truck seats, your latest pair of cowboy boots, or a new leather bag, most people have a preconceived idea of what leather should smell like. This smell has the tendency to send our imagination to a faraway place with rugged terrain, wild adventure, and wide open spaces. But what’s ironic about all of this is that the familiar smell that we have come to associate with leather may not actually be natural at all.

What I am about to reveal to you below may be quite shocking, so brace yourself.

The reality of the ‘leather’ smell common to most mass-produced leather goods you can find in department stores and cheap online marketplaces…just ain’t good for you or the environment.

unrolling leather hide

It’s important to note before we continue that I, Mr. Lentz, use a natural type of leather called Vegetable-Tanned. The leather is preserved in tanks using different tree barks and is much more expensive due to the natural process used to preserve the fibers.

This differs greatly from leather used by competing shops:

leather couch

When Leather Meets Chemicals

In fact, that typical smell that most are familiar with, is created when leather is treated with a lot of chemicals. Sadly, most of the leather we’re used to smelling in mass-market goods gets its scent from a harsh mix of chemicals that you’d run far away from if you knew what they were. According to the EPA, these are some of the most common tanning agents used in the world today:

  • Trivalent chromium
  • Alum
  • Syntans (man-made chemicals)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Glutaraldehyde

Not only are toxic ingredients like chromium salts used in chrome-tanned leather, but things like lignosulfate and specialty chemicals are also added to commercial leather products before finishing. The International School of Tanning Technology provides a list of 48 different chemicals that are commonly used in leather processing…48! The most notorious one of these chemicals is a type of chrome, which is known for putting certain tannery workers around the world at risk from exposure. Chome-tanned leather I should note is probably the most popular type of mass-market leather used in the world today. It is extremely cheap to manufacture, has an immediately soft feel, and unbeknownst to most consumers…also happens to wear out much more quickly.

An odor research study published in Chemical Senses reported that various smells presented were described as both leather-like and medicinal. That’s no coincidence. We’ve gotten so used to leather smelling like chemicals that it’s become hard to tell what pure leather should actually smells like. It’s time to get back to basics…

cowboy-disapproval

Natural Leather, the Mr. Lentz Way

As you should know by now, harsh chemicals and unnatural ingredients have no place in my workshop. That’s why I use natural tree bark tanned leather (Vegetable-Tanned) for all of my leather products. Full-grain Vegetable-Tanned leather from the top U.S. tannery is the best leather that money can buy because of its extreme density of fibers, strength, and natural preservation process. I have chosen to buy my leather from an extremely reputable U.S. tannery that conforms to strict U.S. standards developed by the EPA. The tannery is known for the best quality natural vegetable tanned leather in the world. Unlike other types of leathers that use chemical solutions to rush the natural process, vegetable tanned leather relaxes and softens into shape over time for maximum longevity. Basically you need to wear-in your wallet or bag over the first week or two to help the fibers stretch into shape.

handmade leather dye

From there, I only use natural dyes that I make right here in my workshop with pure and simple vegetable matter. As I’ve mentioned before, high-quality leather deserves high-quality care, which is where leather conditioning comes in. To soften things up, I only use leather conditioner made right here in my workshop that’s made with extra virgin olive oil and purified beeswax.

When I work in my shop, I don’t use gloves because I don’t have to. Natural ingredients are the key to staying in this business for the long-term.

spiff-n-shine

What Leather Should Smell Like

The end result of my eco-friendly method to dyeing and conditioning is a pure and natural leather that has a slightly different smell than the average leather you’ll find in those big-city stores. Thanks to the vegetable tanning, natural dyes, and chemical-free conditioning process, my leather smells rich, earthy, and slightly sweet. It’s not an overbearing smell or one that stinks up your whole house. Instead, it’s a subtle smell that will remind you of our great prairies, deserts and mountains. Pure, naturally treated leather should have a mild smell and be easy on the nose.

mountain lake view

I hope this helps you understand a bit about why leather smells and what different smells can tell you about a piece of leather’s quality and production process. When your next Mr. Lentz product arrives on your doorstep, take a big whiff, close your eyes, and let your imagination wander. This is the true smell of rugged terrain, wild adventure, and wide open spaces.

Mother’s Day Sale 20% Off

mothers day sale on leather goodsMother’s day is coming up quickly, so make sure to get your orders in. Right now I’m making and shipping most orders within 3 business days. I’m also giving 20% off select items in the shop including purses, some wallets and accessories. Head on over here: Mothers Day Sale  to see all the items with a discount. A lot of items will also ship free! Sale ends soon.

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