Just to say that I received my 5" x 36" piece of vegetable-tanned hide today. It's pretty much the ubiquitous, pinkish-peach colored cowhide that you find selling for woodworking tools and kitchen knives, and at 3/16", boy is it thick. I have cut it into two 2-1/2" strips and will cut the length down to something more usable, although I am partial to barber's ends. The surface itself has some light dirt and scuffing, and could probably benefit from an initial cleaning. So one thing I am thinking about here is the possibility of using colored shoe polish or some sort of leather dye to arrive at a desired color. Not sure about the necessity of sanding this one. The surface is smooth, rather than suede-like.