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Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Discussion of fur breeds, tanning pelts, using the furs, marketing.
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Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby GBov » Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:38 pm


This is a question that has been bugging me for awhile so thought I would ask and see what y'all think.

I watched a program on, oh, I cant remember right now, one of those recreate the past shows, that had a segment on traditional tanning of cow hides. And since then I have seen sever bits here and there on cow leather production, both traditional and modern.

NONE of them "break" the hide! :shock:

Just tan it, let dry a bit and oil it. It is then a useful product.

If that is how big ol' cow hides are done, would it work with a little bitty bunny hide?

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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Nymphadora » Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:38 pm


I'm following this thread... because in my heart I am lazy, and if there's a way to get workable hide without spending hours of breaking it... I'm in! :popcorn:

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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby GBov » Fri Oct 14, 2016 6:09 pm


Nymphadora wrote:I'm following this thread... because in my heart I am lazy, and if there's a way to get workable hide without spending hours of breaking it... I'm in! :popcorn:


Yeh, me to, that is why I asked! :lol:

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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby alforddm » Fri Oct 14, 2016 8:06 pm


I'm thinking it must have been vegetable tan or something? That is a stiffer and firmer type of leather. Not what you would want in fur or garment leather.

But I'm pretty sure they don't break veg tan hides.

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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Preitler » Sat Oct 15, 2016 6:14 am


Just dried hides are pretty stiff, what also helps is leather fat (the stuff which is used to keep leather productes soft, contains oils and waxes, I get it a store for horse and riding stuff), I rub rabbit hides with it and they get softer with less breaking, downside is that the skin isn't really white then.
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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby GBov » Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:35 am


Am bursting with wanting to try it but I am in the middle of packing two houses so just cant find the time :( esp as I still have about 60 pounds, yes pounds :oops: , of frozen hides to get fleshed and dried for shipping.

I guess the old saying "Dont put off today........" is true, sure wish I had done them as I went along. :roll:

WHEN I do get a chance I will try it on a fryer hide. Brew up a very strong tea, pour it out very shallow onto a cookie sheet and place hide skin side down into it. If its very shallow the hair should stay dry but the dried hide should soak it up nicely.

Then dry to just damp and rub in oil/wax and see how it looks and feels.

As all my hides that get turned into things have the hide side covered with cloth anyway, it doesnt mater to me if the hide is white or not, just that the hide is a comfortable product to use.

And easy, easy is good. Quick and easy is even better. :lol:

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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Ramjet » Sat Oct 15, 2016 6:37 pm


Those commercially tanned cow hides get run thru a machine that removes all the fat and flesh and in the process removing the need to break it as well.

One of those machines would probably destroy a rabbit hide .... its got blades like a wood planer.


If you want soft supple leather , you are gonna have to put in the work for it. There just isn't any corner cutting.


I saw a cheap to make machine on YouTube for breaking hides rather than doing them by hand , its posted here somewhere , I intend to make one sooner than later - After the rabbitry reorganization.
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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby GBov » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:47 am


The program I watched had the hides fleshed by hand and then soaked in oak bark "tea" for a year. They came out stiff but very useable.

I have a fryer hide floating in very strong tea right now, I simply couldnt wait to see if it works.

Will let yall know how it goes. :lol:

__________ Sun Oct 16, 2016 9:53 am __________

So I put four tea bags into two cups of water and simmered the heck out of them, they must have been going for almost an hour. So very strong tannins indeed.

Poured it onto a cookie sheet and then, after it cooled, floated the super thin fryer hide on the top. It was a hide from a 6 week old Rex who met a sticky end through total stupidity and was the thinest of all my dried hides.

After about 5 hours I took it out, rolled it into paper towels and walked on it, to force the excess liquid out.

Smoothed it flat and rubbed in Gardenia hand lotion as its all I had on hand. On hand, get it? :oops: :lol:

Left it overnight on the table and this morning it was nice and flat still and, while it crinkles when shaken, it is really nice. I scraped a knife over it to get any leftover cream off to help it glue to a felt backer and then for fun I crumpled it up like a paper wad a few times which has reduced the crinkling sound hugely.

So I am really pleased with this first experiment, even though I SHOULD have waited til all my work is done first. Ah well, all work and no play makes me really grumpy.!

__________ Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:47 am __________

The hide has passed the "Its MINE!" test from my daughter! Any new hide that is well done she makes a grab on and leaves the stiffer ones for her brothers.

Much to their annoyance. :lol:

So I am going to get some work done and then do another one, this one a 12 week old NZ fryer hide that I just finished drying.

Am loving drying all my hides, I keep finding treasures galore in the freezer. Found another raccoon which dried beautifully and the 6 ft rattlesnake hide with rattle attached that is now dried and amazing to look at and touch, and a bag of squirrel hides that made great dog treats and now finding rabbit hides from so many years ago that the colors are a constant surprise. NO memory at all of ever having NZs this color yellow/tan but it sure is pretty.

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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Truckinguy » Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:42 am


I"m not an expert my any means but I don't think you can get that soft pliable texture without breaking it. As I break the hides I can feel it changing in my fingers and it is remarkably different when I'm finished. I guess it might depend on what you're using it for. Mine are just conversation pieces at the moment but if you don't need them real soft then you could get away without breaking them. It sure is a lot of hard work to break them.

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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#10  Unread postby GBov » Sat Oct 29, 2016 8:49 pm


Insomnia is such a wonderful thing, am about to make a gizmo I thought up at 2 am last night. :roll:

When one buys a leather leash, or reins, or stirup leathers they are tanned but stiff. Use makes them soft and pliable.

I am trying that effect with this hide experiment and so far, so good.

Will keep y'all posted. :D

__________ Sat Oct 29, 2016 8:49 pm __________

:lol: Well, the rolling pin with big headed tacks all over it didn.t work very well as a hide softener. :lol:

But crumpling it over and over worked a treat.

Have given it to the school as they are doing a display on Indian art and artifacts so a hide was needed.

After veg tanning and oiling and letting it dry and the repeated crumpling, it turned out very nice. NOT as soft as some of the hides I have done but certainly as good as many I have seen for sale in craft stores.

I had an idea of putting a yoga mat into a half barrel, tossing in some hides and walking them soft.

Too much on my plate right now but think that will be my next try.

I do like the tanned hides better than the softened raw hide. Its a subtle difference but nicer, to me at least.

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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#11  Unread postby ButtonsPalace » Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:35 pm


Only commenting because I want to see where this goes :P
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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#12  Unread postby GBov » Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:37 pm


Have now tried it on a few hides and it works pretty good. Soak dried hide in very strong tea overnight in fridge, rinse well in cold water, roll in large towel, walk all over the rolled towel, hang hide up for a few min then rub with oil/fat of your choice. Right now I am using neets foot oil as its what I have to hand. Let dry quite a bit then work enough for hide to not be oily. Let dry all the way then just crumple it up over and over again. Fryer hides get very soft quickly but older rabbits take more work.

Am collecting the bits needed to make a pedal powered breaker.

As experiments go, so far this one has proven fun. :D :bunnyhop:

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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#13  Unread postby SarniaTricia » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:22 am


I have a friend that got an old gas dryer (don't hook up gas) and puts balls or something in it with the pelts.... this is done after some preliminary stretching and breaking and just before the pelts are fully dried.

Makes a beautifully soft leather on the pelt.
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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#14  Unread postby Ferra » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:33 am


My veg-tanned doe hide was not broken, but I don't think that would work well as a hair-on method for rabbit fur.

I did salvage a scrap of pelt from a failed experiment in December that I just dried without breaking:. It is crinkly, furry rawhide basically.

I keep telling myself attempt 2 will be better. After all, I know now that the acid pickle for my deer hides is strong enough to digest rabbit skin. Breaking is work, but I keep telling myself at least rabbits come in bite size packages. It's not like my buck hide from last year where it was 6 hours to break, and I still didn't get it soft enough. (My doe hide though... Like butter! I am thinking of making some leather bunny-bracers from it for handling well meaning but scrabbly animals)

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Re: Does one HAVE to "break" a hide?

Post Number:#15  Unread postby GBov » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:15 pm


SarniaTricia wrote:I have a friend that got an old gas dryer (don't hook up gas) and puts balls or something in it with the pelts.... this is done after some preliminary stretching and breaking and just before the pelts are fully dried.

Makes a beautifully soft leather on the pelt.


I have used a dryer several times and gotten really nice results when doing conditioned raw hides but I don't have a dryer anymore. What I do have is a three wheel bike frame and basic carpentry skills so am going to make a person powered breaker like the one somewhere in one of my posts that I will try to find for a question I have about it, later though, have much to do today.

__________ Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:15 pm __________

Ferra wrote:My veg-tanned doe hide was not broken, but I don't think that would work well as a hair-on method for rabbit fur.

I did salvage a scrap of pelt from a failed experiment in December that I just dried without breaking:. It is crinkly, furry rawhide basically.

I keep telling myself attempt 2 will be better. After all, I know now that the acid pickle for my deer hides is strong enough to digest rabbit skin. Breaking is work, but I keep telling myself at least rabbits come in bite size packages. It's not like my buck hide from last year where it was 6 hours to break, and I still didn't get it soft enough. (My doe hide though... Like butter! I am thinking of making some leather bunny-bracers from it for handling well meaning but scrabbly animals)


That is where I start, dried raw hide. Am still working out each step and how long they take so I can start doing batches instead of one at a time.

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