Leather Crafting

Calfskin Vs Cowhide Which is Best & Cheapest




Calfskin Vs Cowhide


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Calfskin Versus Cowhide Which One Is Best?

Calfskin Vs Cowhide when it comes to items made out of leather, there are many different types available. Knowing the difference between the types of leather helps you find the perfect item in the end. Naturally, people have preferences when it comes to the look and feel of their leather items, especially because these items can range from boots to jackets and even rugs for your living room floor. Since calfskin and cowhide leather are two very popular types of leather, let’s take a look at their differences and similarities.

What Is Calfskin?

Most leather items are made from cattlehide. With raw cattlehide, there are many different grades, and the differences depend on factors such as the cow’s age and gender. If the calf is less than six months old, the leather is called calfskin. This is true whether the calf is male or female. Calfskin is also divided into different grades, and these are based on weight. The following rules apply for calfskin leather:

  • Light calfskin is leather with a weight of 9.5 pounds or less
  • Heavy calfskin is leather with a weight of 9.5 pounds to 15 pounds

Calfskin is a very high-quality type of leather. This is because the size of the rawhide sourced from the body of one calf is very small. Calfskin leather is also thin and soft, while the grain is very fine and smooth.

As you can imagine, calfskin is very expensive because it is such a high-quality type of leather. That being said, people choose calfskin simply because of the overall look and feel, which are second to none.

It should also be noted that there is a type of rawhide that is in between calfskin and cattlehide, which is intermediate in both texture and size. It is called kipskin, and in certain areas of Europe, many manufacturers call it calfskin.

But, there is a difference between calfskin and kipskin, so if you specifically want light or heavy calfskin and not something intermediate in size and texture, you have to pay attention to where the item comes from and how it is made. These details are usually described by the manufacturer of the item when you buy it.

What Is Cowhide?

Cowhide is the hide of cows that are 18 months of age to two years of age, and that have had a calf. Cowhide is usually grouped by weight:

  • Light cowhide weighs 30 to 53 pounds
  • Heavy cowhide weighs over 53 pounds

In general, cowhide isn’t nearly as smooth and fine as calfskin or kipskin, but it has a finer grain and a softer texture than other types of leather, including oxhide. Cows are smaller than oxen, which means that the amount of usable areas of each hide is smaller.

When using the area around the cow’s abdomen, manufacturers usually stretch it during calving so that it has a looser fiber structure. The back and shoulder of the cowhide are normally used because of this.

To further describe the differences in various types of leather, here are a few other types to consider:

  • Kipskin hides come from cattle between six months of age and two years of age. You can think of kipskin as leather that is between calfskin and cowhide. Again, kipskin is often called calfskin in Europe. Kipskin is soft and smooth and has a fine texture. The only thing nicer than kipskin is calfskin, and it is easy to craft due to its thickness. There is also a lot of possibility when it comes to the items made out of kipskin.


  • This type of leather comes from a steer that has been castrated at three to six months of age and which is over two years old. Light steer hides weigh less than 58 pounds, and heavy steer hides weigh more than 58 pounds. Steerhide has coarser grain than calfskin, kipskin, and cowhide, but it is also thicker and more durable. There are also more usable areas per skin and it has a very consistent fiber structure. For these and many other reasons, steerhide is the most commonly used type of leather, especially in the area of leather crafting.


  • Bullhide is the hide of a bull that hasn’t been castrated. Bullhide is second to none when it comes to the durability and density of the fiber structure. The hides are especially thick in certain areas, including near the bull’s head, neck, and shoulders. Once bullhide is tanned, it is super-durable and sturdy, which is why it is used so often to make soles and even drive belts. Some are tanned more gently and therefore can be used to make boots and bags.Basically, cowhide is durable and thick, whereas calfskin is softer and thinner. Cowhide is usually used to make items such as saddles and shoes, whereas calfskin is usually used to make items such as jackets, purses, and even furniture.

What to Look for When Shopping for Leather

Since leather that comes from steers is the most common type, you can safely assume that when you buy something made out of leather, that leather comes from a steer, which is a castrated bull. Calfskin is extremely durable and is thinner than cowhide.

It also has grain that is tighter and more even since the fibers are closer together. In other words, ounce for ounce, calfskin has a lot more tensile strength than cowhide. That being said, there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration when deciding between calfskin and cowhide.

One of these is the pore structure. In general, the pores on calfskin are barely visible, so you get a very smooth surface when you purchase this type of leather. The pores on cowhide are usually more visible, although this does not need to be looked at like a negative trait. Calfskin, since it is newer than cowhide, is smoother and extremely comfortable.

But since there are numerous considerations when buying any item made out of any type of leather – including how the leather was stored before it was sent to the stores – there is not just one trait to look at when you’re in the market for a leather item.


People also ask:

Is Calfskin More Expensive Than Leather?

Leather made from calfskin is more expensive because it is very soft and supple. Calfskin leather is also more expensive because it comes from young cows. This means that most small things are made of calfskin leather. Among them are leather gloves and leather shoes.

The above only applies if it is an excellent grade calf leather it will cost more than an ordinary cowhide, although cowhide in in general can be more costly.

Is Cowhide Better Than Calfskin?

Overall, calf leather is a good choice because of its weight and thickness, making it a long-term investment. Calfskin has a higher tensile strength per pound than cowhide, despite being thinner. This is due to the closer spacing of the fibres in calfskin.



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