Desk Leathering & Table Lining

Give your writing surface a new lease of life…

Andy Mendoza – 18th June 2014

If you'd seen how badly torn, worn and damaged the leather on the top of my father's old desk was, you wouldn't believe the transformation. Incredible. Now it looks as good as new, but with bags of character, like it's been on there years and we've been really good at looking after it!

A forgiving surface to write on

Desk leathering - also known as table lining - is a process which has been in use for several centuries. Leather provides a forgiving surface on which to write, but can also enhance the beauty of your desk or writing table.

There are two main types of leather available for use in this process: lamb skiver or cow hide. Lamb skivers are a little thinner and tend to come in significantly smaller cuts which means that they are suitable for use on smaller writing surfaces, but can be used on larger areas where they are inlaid with joins. The joints are common and are decorated, so most people don't even notice, except to think it part of the design. Cow hide is thicker and will cover a much larger surface without any joining being required. For obvious reasons, cow hide is more expensive than lamb skiver.

Decorative borders are embossed into the leather, in part to aid adherence of the edges to the substrate (surface underneath the leather) but also because it looks nice! We have a large variety of embossing wheels with many patterns available and these can be applied to your leather writing insert either 'blind' or with gold leaf which picks out and highlights the pattern further.

We are also able to re-line card and other games tables with baize.

We can usually match reasonably closely to the colour of leather you already have on your desk and may even be able to match the embossed pattern. Our table liner is highly skilled and has supplied embossed leather surfaces for such prestigious institutions as the Houses of Parliament.

Prices are based on the square footage of the writing surface and the condition of the substrate.

Leather colours

We use 2 different leathers for table linings: lamb skiver and cow hide. Skivers are smaller as they come from sheep and this means that an insert of more than around 2.5 feet will need joins in it. This was (and is) quite common and the joins are extremely neat and usually decorated with embossed tooling. The surface is natural looking and one tends to be able to see and feel gentle undulations. Hide is around twice the price of skiver, is much larger - for obvious reasons - and therefore surfaces rarely need joins, but instead can be inlaid in one piece. Hide is thicker and smoother. To the inexperienced eye, there is little difference, but stand identical desks side-by-side and the difference can be marked. A good quality desk, depending on your budget, often justifies the additional expense. We do 9 main leather colours for use as table linings, which are available in skiver or hide. These are shown below. They are all coloured by hand. We can attempt to match another colour, if you supply a sample, but cannot guarantee that it will be identical.

*The colours shown below are a guide only, as screen resolutions and colour representations on computer displays vary.

Desk Lining Skiver or Hide - Sage GreenDesk Lining Skiver or Hide - Dark RedDesk Lining Skiver or Hide - Antique Red
Desk Lining Skiver or Hide - Dark GreenDesk Lining Skiver or Hide - Antique GreenDesk Lining Skiver or Hide - Dark Blue
Desk Lining Skiver or Hide - BrownDesk Lining Skiver or Hide - Tan

Desk Lining Skiver or Hide - Black

Blind, Foil & Gold Leaf Embossed Tooling

We have a large number of designs available (see below) - all classic and it is quite possible that you'll find one which is similar to that which is currently, or was originally, on your desk. We offer 3 types of tooling; blind, foil and gold or silver leaf. 'Blind' tooling is produced by making an embossed indentation into the leather, which is then darkened with pigments and stains. It can be used to off-set the golden embossing or if preferred, provides a more subtle effect, using no gold on the surface at all. Foil and leaf look very similar; we tend to use foil on skivers and real gold leaf on hides, as the leaf needs a thicker surface in which to indent the design in order that it appears with enough definition. On some wider tool designs, foil can be preferable, especially when following the line of a tight or intricate shape or curve. There is no difference in price, whichever design you choose. Both foil and leaf can be distressed in order to make it appear less bright.

Got a question about a desk leathering or baize on a card table?

We can help - get a free estimate now!

Start off by emailing us some photos, as we can usually provide an estimate from them - and after that, if you would prefer to arrange for us to visit your home or office you can contact us; Click below or send photos to • [email protected], by 'phone on • +44 (0) 20 7359 4281, or in person by visiting our workshop at • 121-122 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QP

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Still unsure?

Not sure if it's something we would restore? Don't feel embarrassed to ask. If you're not sure what you've got, can't identify the wood, don't recognise the age or period - don’t worry, that's our job, not yours and we're very good at it too! We're here to provide you with free, honest advice. We'll tell you what it is, where it's from and whether or not it's worth restoring. We really can restore most things - you'd be surprised at the state of things we've been able to rescue. Click the Email Us button on the left for a free estimate or read more by clicking the button below.

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