Today I’m going to continue my series on Leveling Professions with a gathering guide – Skinning.
Skinning is the primary gathering profession of Leatherworking, and it provides mats which are often used in Blacksmithing, Engineering, and even Tailoring as well.
Gathering professions is where I tend to venture away from the guides at WoW-Professions.com, because I have my own paths I like to travel to get specific items that I know sell for more or are used for more items that what the guide tells you. You can click on this link to find their Skinning Leveling Guide.
I’m going to go through the leveling guide and give you the information that you don’t find at WoW-Professions. I’ll go over how/where I personally go about leveling them (where I deviate from their guides), and some things I like or dislike about the profession. I’ll also give a few tips on how I make gold with the profession, or ways that I might put it to use that aren’t apparent to everyone.
Getting Started: Materials
As a gathering profession, Skinning doesn’t need anything in the way of actual mats. However, it does require you to devote one item in your bags to be used as a Skinning Knife. You can get the actual Skinning Knife item from basically every trade goods vendor in the game as well as any leatherworking supplies vendors and some blacksmithing supplies vendors as well. There are also some items that act as a Skinning Knife, chief among them being the Gnomish Army Knife which acts as the basic gathering and crafting tools for basically every profession.
Special Note: One way that Skinning stands apart from every other profession is that even mobs that show as Orange do not have a 100% chance to skill you up when you’re skinning. Another way it differs is that you’re not guaranteed to get any leather or any other items when you skin something either. Sometimes you’ll skin orange mobs and get nothing at all for it. It’s more rare that you’ll get no items than it is that you won’t get a skill point, but both of them happen.
You can also get several bonuses to your Skinning skill from items and enchants in the game.
Enchant Gloves – Skinning: Permanently enchant gloves to increase skinning skill by 5.
Enchant Gloves – Gathering: Permanently enchant gloves to increase Herbalism, Mining, and Skinning by 5. Requires a level 60 or higher item.
Finkle’s Skinner: Equip: Skinning +10. (Also counts as a skinning knife.)
Zulian Slicer: Equip: Skinning +10. (Also counts as a skinning knife.)
I keep a pair of white-quality Cloth gloves that have the enchant for each of the gathering professions (the individual enchants for each, not Gatherer) on them to pass around to toons while leveling. Skinning typically doesn’t need it, but if you’re going to power level it then being able to move on to the next stage a bit early can save you some time.
The Zulian Slicer is no longer in the game, so if you don’t already have one you’re just out of luck. Finkle’s Skinner can still be found in Upper Blackrock Spire, and you can use two of them for +20 Skinning if your class is able to dual wield. Both of these items count as a skinning knife as well, so you can get rid of your regular one if you have these, or your gnomish army knife if you don’t need it for your other professions.
If you are looking for a guide to farming specific leathers, WoW-Professions has a guide for that as well: WoW Leather Farming Guide.
Up to skinning 100, you can find out the highest level mob you can skin by: ((Skinning skill)/10)+10. Example: ( 50 / 10 ) +10 = 15
From skinning level 100 and up the formula is simply: (Skinning skill)/5. Example: (175 / 5 = 35)
Skinning doesn’t really have any trouble areas, it’s basically about as straight forward as you can get since it’s keyed off of mob levels. If you find yourself in a zone that doesn’t reward you skill points for skinning then you simply move on to another zone that does.
However, if you’re Skinning for the sake of doing Leatherworking then there are definitely some bottlenecks.
The problem is that it’s so easy to level Skinning. If you skin everything while you level you’ll still find that you’re short on certain leathers if you’re using them for LW because you spent so little time in areas that give you the kind of leather you need in the quantities that you need it.
So while Skinning itself doesn’t have any bottlenecks, I am going to tell you which leathers you want to spend a little extra time farming. If you’re interested in leveling Leatherworking or in selling the leather for profit, then you’ll want to take a look at this list. If you’re just interested in getting to max level as fast as you can so that you can focus on Cataclysm leathers, then just disregard the list and move on to the next section.
Heavy Leather: While you only need 180 of these to level your Leatherworking, the level range that these drop in are generally gone through so quickly that you won’t have near that amount even if you skin while you’re leveling your character. If you are leveling your profession with your toon then the best place to farm this on your own is in Feralas. However, I prefer to farm it via dungeon, particularly Uldaman.
In Uldaman you’ll find three (four?) little pits filled with scorpids that all have a great drop rate for Heavy Leather. You’ll also find several bats and basilisks in the instance that can also be skinned for Heavy Leather. You will end up scoring some Medium Leather and Medium/Heavy Hides from them as well, but the Medium Leather can be combined by a Leatherworker to turn it into Heavy, and the Heavy Hides are often hard to come by and sell pretty well on the AH, so they’re an added bonus.
Thick Leather: You need 410 Thick Leather for Leatherworking, and while you’ll find plenty of it while you’re leveling a toon, you probably won’t find the 20.5 stacks worth before you’re ready for Outlands. If you’re going to farm them solo while leveling then your best bet is to head over to Badlands and kill the dragon whelps northwest of New Kargath. You can also go kill the Ravasaurs in Un’goro Crater.
Because you need so much of this one and so much of the Rugged Leather as well, I like to farm these in a place that gives me a nice mixture of both of them: Sunken Temple. If you’re a high enough level to solo this place then I highly recommend it. There are a ton of dragonkin in here and almost every mob in the instance is skinnable (save the one wing filled with trolls). You’ll find Thick and Rugged Leathers in almost exact proportions each run. You will end up with some Green and White Dragon Scales as well which aren’t used for much, but sell reasonably well on the AH.
The two skinners that I recently leveled to 525 both went here, and I farmed it a third time to help my wife with her Skinner/Leatherworker a couple of weeks ago as well. The instance is a fraction of the size it used to be now and it’s full of skinnable mobs in a fairly small area. Reaching my five dungeons per hour limit I got an average of 185 of each of these leathers per hour.
Another decent place is Blackrock Depths. You can kill all of the hyena/dog things there for Thick Leather. There are a fair number in the first room and then there’s a boss right down the hall that’s surrounded by them. You can get a decent amount here, but not as much as Sunken Temple. The side benefit of running BRD for the leather is that you can also get a bit more profit if you also take the time to go upstairs to take down the Pyromancer for a chance at the Enchant Weapon – Fiery Weapon recipe which you can sell for 50-150g.
Because it takes 410 of these to power level Leatherworking, Thick Leather is a decent option to grind for profit. Thick Leather prices are always all over the place any time I look at getting into them. They’re either incredibly high or ridiculously low. Watch the market and find a decent time to jump in. And in case you didn’t know, right now is a good time. Currently Leatherworking is one of the top raiding professions in the game and people are powering through it.
Rugged Leather: You also need 410 Rugged Leather for Leathworking, and it’s a bit harder to come by than the thick in general leveling. The reason for that is because you’re generally going to leave for Outlands at level 58 and it’s pretty likely that you’ll manage to get a least a level or two into the 50’s while questing or running dungeons in areas where the mobs are still dropping Thick Leather. If you want to solo farm these at level then you want to head to the Blasted Lands, farming the boars and hyenas that inhabit the northern half of the zone.
As I said above though, I prefer farming these in Sunken Temple alongside the Thick Leather. The level range of the mobs in Sunken Temple is great for being able to double-dip into two different level ranges of leather at the same time. You need the same number of both types for LW, and you’ll find them at almost the exact same rate in the instance, so you might as well skin two birds with one sunken stone.
If you have all the Thick you need/want already, then you can also head into Blackrock Spire to farm these. There are a lot of mobs there that can be skinned for Rugged Leather, but I don’t care for the layout of the dungeon and you have to run through a lot of humanoids to get to the areas where the farming is really good so it’s kind of a pain.
Again, with 410 of these required to power through Leatherworking, Rugged Leather is a great option for farming if you want to make some gold on the AH. Rugged Leather is typically the top seller for Vanilla leathers, because so much is needed and so many people are eager to get into Outlands as soon as possible which means they miss out on farming opportunities.
Borean Leather: This is your biggest road block in the whole leveling process. If you’re leveling it along with your toon then it won’t be such a mindnumbing grind (yes it will), but it’s still going to suck. You need almost 1,000 Borean Leather to power through Leatherworking, so you’ll be here for a very long while if you want to farm it all yourself and for that purpose. Arctic Furs can drastically reduce the number of Borean Leather someone needs to level, but with the number of people in Northrend dwindling, it won’t be long before the supply disappears.
When you first get to Northrend you’ll start with the Rhinos in Borean Tundra (my preference) or the Shoveltusks in Howling Fjord. Once your skill reaches 390 you’re off to Sholozar Basin for some monkeys. (I resisted the urge to put a joke in there, so you should thank me.) The Gorillas there are your farming spot of choice for the rest of forever as far as Northrend is concerned. If you get tired of farming the monkeys, or your competition picks up, then you can kill the mammoths, worms and proto-drakes in Storm Peaks, the mammoths, raptors and cats in Zuldrak, or the Nerubians in southeastern Ice Crown.
If you feel like running dungeons your best bet for the leather is going to be Violet Hold. Almost everything in there is a dragonkin that can be skinned. The only exception being most of the bosses.
I break away from the guide on Skinning quite a bit because I have my own way that I just prefer to use. I don’t really use the guide much at all until it’s time for Outlands, honestly.
Following the WoW-Professions you’ll be skinning mobs that are generally always either orange or yellow to you, so you have a higher chance of skilling up per skinning attempt. I prefer to level mine with quantity over quality, so I often farm large packs of mobs using AoE that are only green to me because I can get more skill points in a shorter period of time without having to do excessive amounts of travel to get to new zones just to get orange/yellow mobs when I could just as easily the same skill level by spending another 10-15 minutes right where I am.
To start off, I start leveling all of my skinning at the farms south of Goldshire. I don’t care whether they’re Horde or Alliance, I’m going to the Human’s capital zone to start my skinning because it is hands down the best place to do it. The pigs at these farms have a forced respawn, meaning that when you kill them you force others to spawn. The fastest way to farm them is to find a Mage that’s high enough level to one-shot them with Ice Lance and just have them run circles around the farm killing everything that moves. Set the loot to Free For All and you loot/skin while they kill.
Don’t worry about the bodies despawning before you get to them because there’s literally an endless supply here and you’re just going to skin your little heart out until you hit 75. Personally, I hit 50-60 and then go to the trainer north of Goldshire to train the next level and then I go back and farm them again until I reach 90 skill. After I hit 90 I run around the zone on the eastern or western edges to kill the packs of wolves and bears until I hit 95-100.
From there I generally skin the wolves in northern Duskwood since they’re right there just south of me, but the real sweet spot is the Wailing Caverns instance. That place is filled with raptors and snakes that can be skinned from skill level 95+ and so is the cave outside of the instance. There’s also the added bonus that every Druid of the Fang in the place has a chance to drop Gloves of the Fang which sell on the AH for 45-175g. My current record is four pair of the gloves on a single run.
There are also two rare spawns in the cave outside of the instance portal, one who drops a two-handed axe that sells for 50-125g and the other which drops a mail belt that I’ve sold for 175g. They won’t be there all the time of course, but it doesn’t hurt to take a look when you’re in the area.
The Barrens itself is a great place to level your skinning as both North and South Barrens are just filled with beasts. What you don’t manage to get skilled up in Wailing Caverns can be done by farming the plateau just north of Ratchet which is filled with raptors, zhevra and and lions (and two rare spawns), or in the packs of lions and hyenas that are spread all over the zone.
Once you reach skill 150 it’s time to go down into Southern Barrens where the level 30+ mobs are. Here you can skin the raptors and hyenas that are spread along the northern border as you make your way to the mountains west/northwest of Northwatch Hold (on the eastern shore). There you’ll find a pack of raptors set back into the mountain. There’s an Alliance quest that sends you in there to get supply crates or something now, and I don’t recall what the quest was before the Shattering. Skin all of these until you reach skill level 165 or so and then it’s time to hit another instance.
Razorfen Kraul has two wonderful spots for skinning. The first is the trench that’s typically considered the end of the dungeon, though you can easily reach it from the entrance, and the other is the cave near the middle/end of the dungeon filled with bats. The first time I run it I usually run the dungeon as it’s meant to be run, and just skip all of the humanoids that aren’t in my way. I kill and skin all of the bats and the big piggy boss that’s in the cave as well, and then I drop down where the final boss is and clear out the trench full of boars. Then I leave and reset the dungeon and go run it again clearing out just the boars and skipping the rest of the instance until everything has gone green to me or I’ve reached the next level of skinning and have to train.
Again, I go for quantity over quality, so I’ll often give RFK at least one more run after I train, just hitting the boars real quick and then heading out to Dustwallow.
At 225 it’s time to head over to Dustwallow Marsh just east of the Southern Barrens. There are beasts all over this zone, but three areas in particular interest me. The first is in the mountains west of Muddsprocket; there’s a small area filled with annoying trees where you’ll find a pack of raptors. That’s the first place I clean out because of how many there are in the small area, they’re very easy to AoE.
The second spot is north of Muddsprocket, near the center of the map, called the Stonemaul Ruins. This area is covered with dragonkin that can all be skinned. The ruins themselves hold a lot of dragonkin, and so does the area around it. You’ll also find a lot of crocs in the swampy area all around the zone which are also great for skinning. There’s also a cave between the raptor area I just mentioned and the ruins that is filled with these same type of dragonkin, so I’ll move from the raptors to the ruins killing everything in between.
The third area is east of Muddsprocket, surrounding Onyxia’s Lair. This place is also swarming with dragonkin just waiting to be skinned. There are some drakes that fly above you too, so if you have a ranged attack you can pull those down from the sky and kill/skin them as well.
Each of these three areas is great for skinning, but most of what you’ll find is going to be Heavy Leather with a little Thick Leather mixed in. While that’s great for your skinning skill, it doesn’t do a whole lot for the massive quantities of Thick/Rugged that you’ll need if you’re a Leatherworker, and that’s where the next part comes in.
Once you reach 260-270 though it’s time to move on to yet another instance: Sunken Temple.
Here you’re going to kill dragonkin by the dozen. While you can skin two of the three bosses in the instance, they don’t drop any special type or special amounts of leather so I suggest you just skip them if you’re only here for the leather. Kill all of the dragonkin, leave the instance, kill the three dragonkin right outside the portal, reset the instance, go back inside and repeat those steps until you reach 300 skill.
If you get close to 300 and you aren’t getting skill points as often as you’d like, go ahead and move on to Un’goro Crater and kill the ravasaurs there to finish it off. Some of the mobs in Sunken Temple will go grey before you get to 300, so you might just leave for Un’goro a little early if you don’t need any more Thick Leather and finish your skill levels with better mobs.
I didn’t find any better options for 300-525 that what WoW-Professions suggests, so I stick to their guide pretty much from that point on.
Power Leveling List
1 – 60 Durotar, Dun Morogh
60 – 110 Barrens, Loch Modan
110 – 185 Ashenvale, Wetlands
185 – 205 Dustwallow Marsh, Hinterlands
205 – 265 Thousand Needles
265 – 300 Un’Goro Crater
300-360 Hellfire Peninsula, Nagrand
360-450 Borean Tundra, Sholazar Basin
450-525 Mount Hyjal