| I have gotten a lot of questions on "how
can I tan my own skins". The following is a pretty simple and easy
method that you can do at home, but first a little history.
There are recorded writings from the early Egyptians, Arabians
and Hebrews that date back over 5000 years that refer to the
tanning of animal skins.
The Romans and Greeks were the first to make
major advances in tanning and in fact the basic methods are still in use
today. Also lets not forget the American Indians who taught the early settlers
there system of tanning which included the use of animal brains, livers,
smoke, crude tools and hand manipulation to achieve a very fine soft
There are many different ways and formulas to
tan a hide. I will go over one method that will work for you at home on
a small scale basis. You should not expect to get the same quality
results as a qualified taxidermist or a commercial tanner because to achieve
the best results will require expensive equipment and chemicals. Some of
this equipment that would be required would be a fleshing machine
sometimes called a round knife, the one I have in my shop cost $1500.
Another tool would be a fur drum or a tumbler, $1500. I also have a
pressurized tanning machine that cost $2400 (this is the newest thing in
the tanning industry). So you can see unless you are prepared for a large
investment you will not get the same results.
However you can get a tanned skin that you did yourself if you follow my
instructions carefully. These instructions will be just for a
piece of hide, If you had the head you
would need to turn the lips, split the nose and turn the ears which is
1) Remove the hide as soon as you can. Cut off
all meat and fat that you can and rub non iodized salt (this is regular
table salt) onto the skin and do not miss any spots. Once this is
done pour about 1 inch of salt over the entire flesh side of the
skin and let it
sit there for 24 hours.
2) Now shake off the old salt and
NEVER reuse old salt, and repeat the above step. do not skimp on the
salt this is your insurance and salt is pretty cheap, you can get it at
any feed or grain store. You want the salt to be fine non- iodized, a
40-50lb bag is about $5-$8
3) Once you have shaken off the old salt hang
the hide in a cool dark place (out of the sun) and let it dry. Before it gets to hard fold it up, remember you
will need to get this into a sink, tub or bucket of water. Once it is
rock hard it is good for a long time, sort of salt cured. This method of
drying will help "set" the hair so slippage should not happen.
4) The next step would be to rehydrate the
skin, for a average deer cape you will need 3 gallons of cool water with
one capful of Lysol disinfectant (brown bottle) and 3 lbs. of salt.
Soak skin until the hide returns to a soft, pliable state.
5) Rinse skin in cool water until
the water is clean and all the salt residue is gone, you may need to
change the water 3-4 times. Hang skin up to
drain, once most water has stopped dripping towel dry until the skin is
only slightly damp. I have a washing machine in my shop and I usually
will just place the skin in there and put it on the spin cycle, works
great and fast.
6) Mix up a pickle (there are many formulas) which is acid, salt and
water and place the skin into it to soak for about 3 days.
7) Remove the skin form the pickle and shave
the skin to remove all fat, meat, membrane etc. unless you have a
Fleshing wheel this will be about all you can do at this point. When
done if you have a grease skin like a raccoon you will want
to wash it in dawn dish detergent to remove the grease. Once it is clean
and thoroughly rinsed return it to the pickle for another 24 hours.
8) Remove the skin and let drain. Mix a
neutralizing solution to off set the acid. For every one gallon of water
1 oz of backing soda. Place skin in and soak for 20 minutes. Once done thoroughly
rinse, let skin drain for 1 hour.
9) Mix the tanning crystals and place your skin
into the solution for 16-24 hours. Than remove skin and let drain for 20
10) Lay skin hair side down on a flat surface.
Heat up tanning oil so it is warm ( a microwave works good for this ).
But on rubber gloves and rub the oil into the skin or use a paint brush, a little oil goes a
long way but make sure you use enough so it will penetrate the skin.
11) Let the skin sit for about 3-4 hours. Roll
the skin up, skin side to skin side and place in a plastic bag that
is air tight and place in the refrigerator over night.
12) Take the skin out of refrigerator and
unroll, plot off any excess oil. Let skin dry laying flat and you now
have a tanned skin. It will dry a little hard and if you were to want it
soft you will need to at this point to repeat step 10-11 and use a
"soft tanning oil". Than after step 11 you will need to
"break the skin over a table edge etc. as it is drying to get it soft. The more
you work it the softer it will get.
put together a tanning kit for sale that has the tanning oil, tanning
crystals, pickling acid and
instructions. If you would like to try tanning your own skins CLICK
HERE. I accept Visa and Master Card.