Drum Dyeing

Leather Terminology / Other Leather Terms


Definition of Drum Dyeing

Drum dyeing is one of the most common methods of dyeing leather. It involves soaking natural leather in a dye solution within a tumbling drum, as shown below.

drum drying

The main aim of drum dyeing is to ensure maximum penetration by saturating the leather fibers with the dye to achieve a uniform and persistent color on the material surface.

The process is most common with solid dyes in solvent-based form. Leather is immersed in a dye bath contained in the rotating drums and left to soak for hours.

The drums’ tumbling action ensures even dye distribution while enabling deeper penetration and color intensity throughout the leather product. To increase the dye penetration, the temperature in the rotating drums is raised to 50–60 °C.

Once dyeing is complete, the leather is removed from the barrels and the excess color rinsed out to prevent the transfer of dye from the leather (or leather discoloration).

dye transfer (discoloration) from a leather dog leash

Drum dyeing provides higher color fastness to the leather than other dying methods, such as roller coating and spray dyeing.

By leveraging the drum dyeing technique, manufacturers can produce highly durable leather products that are resistant to losing color.

Stainless steel, plastic, and wooden barrels are the most common vessels used for drum drying.

However, wooden drums are preferred over the rest for reasons such as:

  • Wood is able to withstand the strong chemicals and alkaline solutions previously used in the tanning process.
  • Wooded drums are manufactured at lower costs, hence cheaper than stainless steel.
  • Wood is sturdy and can withstand high temperatures.
  • Wood does not react to chemicals, meaning dyes of all shades are possible without soiling.
  • Wooden drums require minimal maintenance and are easy to repair or modify.

All absorbent leather types (aniline leather, nubuck, and suede) are drum dyed.

Example of Drum Dyeing in a Sentence

"We asked if the leather was ready but he said he was still drum dyeing it."

Synonyms: immersion dyeing, drum dipping, dip dyeing

Related Terms for Drum Dyeing

Written by Ryan Popoff

Ryan Popoff is the creative mind behind Popov Leather wallets, iPhone cases, belts, watch bands and journals since 2013. With a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, my leatherworking journey began at home. I wanted to create a simple leather wallet that could fit into my front pocket and — to my delight — it was a hit with family and friends. Hopefully you love our honest, quality leather goods too! Read more