Do you accept orders placed outside of the US?

Do you accept international orders?
Absolutely! However, prices are displayed as USD by default.

What are “Full Grain” and "Top Grain" leather?

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

Most cheaper leathers are produced by splitting the inner layers to produce more square feet of material per hide, but full grain leather retains the outside layer for maximum strength and durability.

It is considered by many to be the most genuine of leathers, retaining all of the hide’s original textures, character, and strength. Top grain is full grain leather that has been lightly sanded, when a more even texture is desired.

This quality comes 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.

What is “Vegetable-Tanned” leather?

Tanning is the method of transforming a hide into usable leather. As its name suggests, veg-tanned leather uses a process involving organic materials, derived from sources such as tree bark.

It is contrasted with “chrome-tanned” leather which commonly uses chromium sulphate, and colours the fibres of the leather a bluish-white tint.

Chrome-tanned leather is quicker to produce, and much more prevalent in large industrial processes in the shoe and garment industry.

Vegetable-tanned leather is typically the choice for leatherwork artisans because of its versatility when carved, stamped, dyed, and finished by hand.

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 obviously, "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, but within some specific time, skill, and category constraints.

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 view 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 small 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 2 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 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 my site periodically. 

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 this store's return and exchange policy?

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

I will exchange any standard item you are not satisfied with, on the condition that the item is returned in 100% new condition within 7 days of receipt of delivery.

Refunds are allotted on a case by case basis for items deemed to have defects. Contact me with pictures and a description of the fault, and I will arrange to replace the item or refund your money.

Please ensure returned items are packaged with proper care and protection. The cost of shipping on an exchange is the responsibility of the buyer, and original duty, customs fees, shipping costs (if any) will not be refunded.

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.

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