FAQ and Policies

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Is there a specific photo of the variation I'm interested in?

I apologize for the lack of images for some variations — Some products simply have too many variations to photograph each iteration (eg: there are over 100 combinations of watch strap sizes and styles and thread colours).

I also must admit that I often get too excited when I finish a project and ship the items as soon as they're completed, forgetting to take proper photographs. You are always encouraged to contact me directly with any questions!

How do I qualify for free shipping?

You simply have to have a cart total (before taxes) of over $50USD and the option will appear when you check out. Free shipping is only available to destinations in Canada and the continental USA.

Do you accept international orders?

Absolutely! However, prices are displayed in USD by default.

How do gift certificates work?

After checkout, the purchaser will receive an email that contains a unique gift code.

That code can be used as payment on my online store towards any currently offered product or even towards the creation of a bespoke item.

I will also send you a digital file you can print out or attach to an email.

Is there an expiry date for gift certificates?

Nope! There is no expiry date for gift certificates. Most people expect to redeem their cards within a few months. If you don't intend to use it within a year or two, please let me know.

Can a gift certificate be used more than once?

Yes, provided there is still a balance remaining on the certificate.

Can more than one gift certificate be used towards a purchase?

Yes. A customer can redeem another gift certificate during checkout.

Can a gift certificate be used to pay for shipping and taxes?

Yes, gift certificates are applied to the final order total which includes shipping and taxes.

Can gift certificates be used in conjunction with a discount code?

Yes, gift certificates are a form of payment.

What are “Genuine,” “Full Grain,” and "Top Grain" leathers?

The best strength and quality comes from the outermost layer of the hide (known as the “grain”).

Cheaper leathers are produced by splitting the inner layers to produce multiple sheets of material. These "splits" are then polished, waxed, and given a texture so they resemble the outer layer. This is Genuine Leather, and is used in almost all mass-produced leather goods. It doesn't, however, have the same qualities of good grain leather. 

Full grain leather retains the outermost layer—where the fibres are closest together—for maximum strength. It features all of the hide’s original texture, character, and durability. Top grain is full grain leather that has been lightly sanded when a more even texture is desired.

Preserving the grain layer ensures strength and character far beyond what you would normally find in stores (which mostly will sell "Genuine Leather"—the lowest grade).

Unless otherwise noted, I use only top or full grain leather in all of my work.

These characteristics come at a cost, as full and top grain leather usually commands a higher price. However, for quality, long-lasting goods—especially ones you depend on—it’s well worth the investment.

While I usually try to choose a clean, even section of material, you may prefer that your item include natural scars or branding marks, and I will try to accommodate your request. Please specify your preference on ordering.

Where do you get your leather?

I look for sustainable suppliers whose leather is a byproduct of the cattle industry, and unlike many luxury brands, I aim for as little waste as possible, often embracing wrinkles and imperfections for signature, one-of-a-kind pieces.

I have multiple sources, ranging from suppliers in Canada (BC, Ontario), USA (Chicago, Maine, Kentucky), Argentina, England, and Italy.

I appreciate that some customers may have their own leather, or exotic hides from before certain animals  were protected, but I will respectfully decline any requests to use leather from unknown sources, and will not work with any endangered species regardless of the circumstance. 

Within my standards of quality and ethics, however, I'm happy to discuss sourcing a colour or style of leather that is not part of my regular lineup - please contact me and we can discuss it further.

What's the difference between "Hand-Stitched" and "Machine-Stitched" when it comes to leather?

Well, of course, just having a machine or a human isn't going to automatically make thread stronger, or details more accurate. In fact, either machine or hand can be better or worse in terms of quality, depending on the materials, and the care placed into the setup/work.

However, there is one specific difference where hand-stitching wins out — resistance to unravelling. A hand-sewn saddle stitch (used on all my projects) involves two needles through every hole, and that means a very reliable, redundant system of securing two or more pieces of leather.

A machine will perform a lock stitch, which can continuously unravel down the line if the thread is broken at any one point.

Quality goods should use very strong thread, so this is unlikely, but if you want an objective indicator of long-term quality, a good saddle-stitch won't let you down.
Sometimes an illustration can help.

How long will my item last? Can I get it wet?

The short answer is, "It depends."

However, through good care and maintenance, every single product you invest in should last many years — if not a lifetime — in performing its intended function.

You don't need much in the way of maintenance. Leather components should be occasionally conditioned to replenish oils, especially if they are exposed to sunlight and harsh elements. With light use, once a year is appropriate.

Leather and metal components should not be exposed to or submerged in water (especially salt water) for extended periods of time. This advice also applies to cats and BBQ ribs.

While you do want to keep your leather dry, if it's intended for use in the outdoors, I make sure your item is conditioned, oiled, waxed, buffed, and in some cases, finished with a thin top coat of acrylic. I use waxed thread that will resist rot or moisture absorption. If it gets a dunking, just make sure it's not left covered and soaking for an extended period of time — most of the time, you're fine to just remove it from the wet conditions as soon as you can, and go about using it as intended.

Most leather finishes that you find at shoe care stores will be appropriate for the leather used.

Do you do custom work?

Yes, I do!

Contact me with your ideas, timeframe, and budget, and we'll take the conversation from there. I will let you know if there's something I can't or won't do.

For more information on some of my processes, I invite you to browse my Instagram Feed, and take a read through this walkthrough (exact process will, of course, vary by project).

Unless otherwise noted, custom work requires full payment up front, 50% of which is non-refundable once I've started to cut materials. In select circumstances, I will accept a 50% non-refundable deposit, with the balance due when the item is complete.

Do you sell wholesale?

Yes, for select products. You need to be a business, and minimum quantities of products will apply. Lead times will vary, as I'm doing all of this myself.

Contact me for more information.

How is my order packed?

Your item is placed in a box or envelope, along with the appropriate padding to protect it on its way to you.

In an effort to reduce excess waste, A Word in the Woods does not typically include packing slips with online orders, since a receipt is emailed to you at checkout. If you wish to receive a paper packing slip with your order, please let me know when you place your order and I will gladly include one.

How long will it take to receive my order?

If you need an item by a specific time, please contact me for a detailed time estimate.

Once shipped most domestic orders take anywhere from 3 to 10 business days to arrive depending on the efficiency of your local postal service. International shipping delivery times vary greatly depending on location between 2 and 12 weeks.

Items are typically made to order, and are completed in the order in which I receive them. Most items take five business days or less to complete, however, there is usually a lead time which varies depending on how many open projects are in the queue. My current lead times are posted on the home page. 

Custom builds and items made to order may take longer. In addition to the actual fabrication work, dyes need proper drying time, and you can't rush the proper absorption rates of oils and conditioners when it comes to good leather finishing.

If, for any reason, there are any unexpected delays to shipping your item, I will notify you immediately.

What is your return and exchange policy?

At the end of the day, I want you to be happy.

Changed your mind?

That's ok. I will exchange any standard item you are not satisfied with, on the conditions that the item is returned in 100% new, unused condition, and you contact me within 7 days of when you receive your item.

Please ensure returned items are packaged with proper care and protection. The cost of shipping on an exchange is the responsibility of the buyer, as are duties and customs fees. Actual original shipping costs will be deducted from any return refund. Custom item sales, however, are final.

Some materials or hardware may no longer be available for certain designs, and I reserve the right to substitute appropriate materials. 

Did I make a mistake? I stand by my work - I'll make it right

If you find fault with my workmanship (and, of course, you haven't abused or modified your item) please contact me within 14 days 60 days 6 months 3 years of your purchase date. I will arrange to repair or replace the item, or refund your money.

Variables due to the natural properties of leather (such as scars and other marks) are not considered defects, as they are inherent to the material, and are part of the defining characteristics of handcrafted leather goods.

Marks and wear

Distressed or rustic leather styles will ship with those signature appearances, but you can always expect to get a new item free from previous use.

Regular wear and tear once you start using it is your own responsibility - enjoy the stories your leather tells about its life with you!