The W.C. Russell Moccasin Company

Russell Moccasin SB Foot Leather Factory Photo Essay

Russell Moccasin sources leather from several US suppliers but SB Foot is one of Russell’s largest providers of premium leather.   SB Foot is the source of our Laramie Suede, NuBuck leathers and dozens of others.   Russell only buys the finest, high performance premium leathers in the world which is one of the many factors that sets Russell apart from all other boot and shoe manufacturers.

At the end of Suzie’s tour, Pete Hendrickson told her, “I have always respected Russell Moccasin.    You have your own niche.   You have a loyal following and a great reputation.”

Thank you Pete!  You have played a major role in our success over the years by providing the best leathers available.  It takes great leather to make great footwear.

Pete Hendrickson explains to Suzie Fabricius what “blue hides” are.   The blue hide is the result of the initial tanning stage whereby hair and other debris is removed from the hides that are shipped into St. Paul, MN from the Texas and Nebraska cattle feedlots where the hides are originally sourced.  The blue hides are then trucked to the SB Foot Tannery in Red Wing, MN and are sorted for weight and quality and then colored and finished for one of SB Foot’s 400+ different leathers.
Blue Hides

Hides are “leveled” in the shaving department where they are shaved to a uniform thickness on the underside of the hide.
Shaving Department
Blue hides are dyed for individual customer color requirements in the coloring department.  During coloring appropriate oils and lubricants are added to maintain the strength and flexibility of the hides.  Waterproofing can be added in this stage as well if specified.
Coloring Department
During the roll coating operation oils are applied to the hides.
Roll Coater
Moisture content in the tanned hides is reduced from 70% to 55% in the setting operation.   This operation prepares the hide for the drying process by leveling the hide more uniformly.
Setting Operation
SB Foot’s ingenious stick drier, where leather is hang dried in its final stage on a vertical conveyor system.  The conveyor constantly moves the leather from the first floor to the second to the third floor of the building.    This method allows for more uniform drying throughout the hides for consistent softness and feel...or “hand” as we say in the leather business.
Stick Drier

Pete shows Suzie a very nice new mellow leather that caught her eye for future use at Russell.

Examining Leather
In “Leather Speak,”  HAND is the feel and softness of the leather.   During Suzie’s tour she was able to test the “Hand” of hundreds of different leathers....some ultra soft, some just soft, some stiffer.
Testing the “Hand”
Pete shows Suzie some of the many leathers SB Foot custom tans for the US Military.   Pete explains that ever since World War I whenever a US soldier laced up his boots, there was a very good chance they were putting on a boot made with SB Foot Tannery leather.
Completed Leather
Suzie discusses SB Foot’s waterproofing testing for Russell wateproof leathers with an SB Foot  lab technician.  A cutting from every waterproof lot is vigorously tested for 3-1/2 hours, undergoing 20,000 flexes partially submerged in water.  SB Foot also tests Russell leathers for chemical and stain resistance.
More leather than can be imagined!   Here, completed, graded and sorted leathers await containerizing and shipping to offshore customers.
Leather ready to ship
Suzie’s final stop on the tour was the sample room.   “It was kind of like going to the mall,” Suzie remarked, “there were so many different and gorgeous new leathers that I had never been exposed to that I just had to take samples back to Berlin to show my Dad!   I think we just might be adding some really exciting new leathers to our lineup.   The tour was just fantastic.  I learned a lot!”

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