How do you tan hides?

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Hi again!

Planning ahead here, I know I can look on YouTube and see all kinds of people do all kinds of things, but I thought I would ask the experts -

What process do you use to tan hides? Years and years and years ago I raised rabbits and I remember using sulfuric acid I think or battery acid of some sort. It was extremely simple and the hides were beautiful, soft and long lasting.

Thanks for any info!

Liz
 

Ducklove74

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I usually pickle all my hides in water citric acid and salt, then just dry and work the hide...if I tan after, I use brains and then smoke them, but most time I don't need them to be waterproofed so just stop after working hide.
 

Zee-Man

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It is a long process. How you pickle the hide determines if the hair will stay on or slip. Alkalai solutions will slip the hair. You can simply salt or air dry them. If you have the space, you can cover the flesh side with wax paper, roll it up, put it in a zip lock, and freeze it till you are ready.

Brains are widely used. Supposedly you only need the animals own brains, but that always seems a small amount to me. You can get pig brains in the market or at least from a butcher shop. Brains have a particular kind of fat in them. That fat is also found in the cape fat and egg yolks. Mix the brains, yolks, rendered cape in water. Soak your dried skin until wetted, or if not dried soak it for a short time. Then on to the next step.

The rest of the process is one of rubbing the fat into the skin and stretching. Stretching is done manually and using some sort of poll. The poll could be a fence post, a rail, or something purpose built. Continue to rub and stretch until the skin remains subtle. Deer and cow hide take a long time, more than 3 to 4 hours or more depending on size. I've not done rabbit yet, but I would expect a thin skin to take much less time.
 

MissMuja

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There is more than one way to do it. Usually they are frozen so I put them in salty water. When they are unfrozen I remove all the fat and the thin skin wich is sliky to keep the leather. Once that is done, I put the pelt in water with alun and salt for almost 2 weeks and I frequently stir the water. After that, they dry on a rack for some days and each day I work the pelt. When they are almost dry, I apply leather oil.
 

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