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Chestnut tanned soles, insoles and stiffeners

Chestnut tanned soles, insoles and stiffeners

 Thomas ware and sons supply A.McDonald Shoemaker with their Chestnut tanned leather soling. The chestnut tannins create a richer, darker coloured sole leather, tanned specifically with hardwood chestnut extract, with a longer period in the tan, to improve its durability, water resistance and edge finishing. It still has a kinder cut and remains highly fashionable. The chestnut tanned sole has a dark chestnut coloured finish.

The photo above is of the tanning pits at Thomas Ware and sons ltd in the UK our supplier of chestnut tanned soles. Thomas Ware have been tanning since 1840. Below is an extract of their tanning process . 



The first part of the Process which takes 10 days, is to prepare the hide ready for tannage. This is done in the Limeyard, or what was traditionally known as The Beamhouse.

First of all the hides are weighed, opened up and inspected before being soaked in a water pit for 24 hrs, then placed in a de-hairing pit for a further 24 hrs containing the appropriate materials to loosen the hair.

The hides are then placed in a solution of lime for 6 days to open up their fibre structure, to dissolve out all the unwanted inter-fibrillary proteins and to swell the hides so they can withstand the next two machines which remove the hair and scud and surplus flesh.

The hides, now called pelt, are then sorted, graded, rounded (cut up into butts, shoulders and bellies), lime split and de-limed as necessary depending on the end product.


The next process is the actual tannage which can take up to 13 months in tan liquor.

These liquors are made up of carefully selected blends of at least three different Vegetable tanning materials. The composition and strength, the acidity and temperature and the time in these liquors are all carefully controlled in the laboratory to give the end product the desired properties such as hardness, strength, colour and flexibility. Different processes are required for each individual type of leather.


Having been selected for specific end uses this leather can then go back into the Tanyard and Sheds to be further processed into speciality leathers i.e. for leather goods and for the equestrian trade. Therefore some leathers can take in excess of 15 months to be converted from the raw hide to the end product.

source :  Thomas ware and sons Ltd. 

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