Proper Hide Prep Work and Terminology
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Taxidermy.Net Forum  |  Beginners, Training & Tutorials  |  Tutorials  |  Topic: Proper Hide Prep Work and Terminology « previous next »
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George Roof
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« on: September 27, 2007, 09:42:33 PM »

Recently, I've been bothered by posts that reflect a lack of understanding in the proper preparation of hides for tanning.  I guess growing up in the era that I did, it was shown to me and these were hard core facts that weren't up for discussion.  Just in case you're new at this or no one ever really explained the facts of life about taxidermy, I'm going to impose on your time and give you the lessons that I learned.

FLESHING   ALL red meat comes off.  If you're using a beam or a machine, or simply a scalpel, it all has to come off.  That means ALL RED MEAT.  Don't worry a lot about the membrane and sinew, though you're going to eventually have to remove them as well.  If you can get them now, do it.

SPLITTING   Some people take this word literally.  DON'T.  You start by splitting the lips, but after that's done, go back to "FLESHING".  There's meat in those lips, on the eyebrows and in the ear butts.  GET IT OUT NOW.  If you send it to the tannery, it will only be more difficult when you get it back in a tanned condition.  You may as well go down into the oil glands of the eyelids right now.  It will allow for better penetration of the salt.  All the meat needs to come out of the nostril area and the lips.  If you take the hide between your thumb and forefinger and can roll it, there's more to be removed than you've done. Get it all out now.  If you're having the hide wet tanned, open the ears and remove that cartilage (unless you're using the Bondo method, of course).  Open the ears CLOSE to the edge to where the cartilage looks like Swiss cheese.  The rest can be done when the tanning is complete.  Don't risk blowing out an ear at this stage.

SALTING   This is a big one.  The first thing you'll hear is "You can't have too much salt".  Truer words were never spoken, but more salt isn't going to make the hide tan any easier or cover up if you did a crappy job in fleshing the hide.  I lay a hide out on a salting frame (I built a big box about 3 inches deep covered with stainless rat wire.)  If you have a salting table, that's great, or if you have to lay the hide out on the floor or drive way, it will work just as well.

Once the hide is laid out, PUT ON YOUR RUBBER GLOVES (preferably 2 pairs of them).  Pour about a pound of salt right in the center of your hide.  With the heel of your hand, RUB THE SALT INTO THE HIDE. (That's why you need the finer grade of salt.  The coarser, the more difficult it is.)  Work the salt toward the edges.  When you run out of salt, take another pound and pour it around the edge where you ran out.  Continue to repeat this until the entire hide has had salt rubbed into it.  That means insuring the insides of the ears as well as nose, lips and eyelids are covered.  If it's lifesize, make sure there's salt all the way to the claws or hooves. Fold the hide, skin to skin, and then roll it up.  Put it, with the open edge down,  on a drain board, and inclined table, or as I do, I have a 6 gallon bucket with an expaned aluminum drain that I cut out and suspended about 2 inches off the bucket bottom.  Put the hide in and let it set overnight. The next morning, open the hide up.  Pour all the drained fluids out .  Look at your hide.  If all the salt is dissolved, then consider resalting it one more time. (If you do this first thing in the morning, check it before closing the door at night and resalt then if necessary.)  If not, lay the hide out in the open air to dry.  Check it periodically to insure that it IS drying.  Many times, a single salting will work on deer and other animals. Bears usually require a second dose.  Before the hide gets hard, fold it to fit your shipping box.  Once dry, you don't want to try and bend the hide as it COULD tear or break.  Remember, the salt is to dehydrate the fluids from the skin.  When the skin stops draining, adding salt is doing nothing else for you.  It means that the salt has permeated the hide and all fluids are removed.  The hide is damp simply because the cell structure hasn't dried yet.  And sure, salt is cheap, but that's no excuse for wasting what's not functioning.  You're a taxidermist, not an investment banker.  Do it properly and you won't have to worry about the results.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2008, 05:49:01 PM by Ken Edwards » Logged

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elkman1978
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2007, 09:46:42 PM »

hey george thanks for sharing
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Matt
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2007, 09:48:54 PM »

Nice of you to do that George, hopefully it will help those that still have questions on prep. However, you know someone is going to ask: Do I really have to do all of that for everything? Then of course you can be not so nice!(LOL) Good info, nice post.
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Uncle Harley
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2007, 09:53:31 PM »

thanks George........ that helps!
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Frank from PAA
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« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2007, 10:44:38 PM »

Bravo George. Very informative. That took some time to type out. Frank
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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2007, 10:55:58 PM »

That was a nice 'reminder' post George.  Nice job.  I know that sometimes I don't flesh the lips and face that well because I can do that once I get it back from the tannery, but it still has to be removed and the cleaner I send it to the tannery, the less I will have to do later.

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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2007, 07:07:38 AM »

Thanks George.  For a beginner it is a great review.
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Brian Claar
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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2007, 07:27:04 AM »

George, that was a good post.  Some new guy is going to read this, and they will be way ahead of the game.  I wish we would see more post like this on here.
Maybe there should be a new category added "Georges How To" section.  ;D
Or maybe you should write a book.  You probably have enough material on here to get a good start.  ;)
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2007, 08:10:13 AM »

Great post George ! Very informative .
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colinb
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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2007, 10:08:24 AM »

How would you handle a greasy hide like a Bear or a Hog? Or at what stage would you degease the hide? 
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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2007, 11:20:42 AM »

Thank you George.....
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George Roof
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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2007, 12:23:48 PM »

Colin, if you're sending your bears out, as you SHOULD, the degreasing is done by the tannery during the tanning process.  If you're insistant on doing them yourself, it's done at the the same point of the process, during tanning.

Bears, boars, buffalo, or bats, the process is the same.  Salting a hide is not supposed to be like seasoning your favorite steak by sprinkling on a little salt.  Pouring salt on a hide is a silly way of doing it.  The process needs a bit more involvement that "sprinkling" it on in order to be effective.
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Debbie C.
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« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2007, 04:08:38 PM »

Great Post George !!!
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Wolfwoman
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« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2007, 04:45:03 PM »

Thanks George!  That was a GREAT read!

As I'm sure you saw in another post of mine, I am going to try my hand at this. I do not want to get into the tanning, skinning, fleshing, etc end of this, I want to find someone that will do all of that for me beforehand. I don't have the strength in my shoulders or hands to be doing that now and with osteoarthritis setting into my spine I don't need that kind of heavy work. I am also thinking of only doing predators, specifically canines as that's what I love. What are your thoughts on all that I just said? IF I am any good at this, can I have a successful taxi business without all the skinning, tanning, etc being done by me? Is it possible to just do certain critters and do well?

I know you won't blow roses up my butt, so that's why I'm asking you!

Wolfwoman
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George Roof
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« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2007, 05:21:08 PM »

Wolfie, you know I'm not into blowing roses.  IF you can find someone who'll handle the green hides for you, certainly  you can do the taxidermy work.  I'd suggest your husband for one big reason.  IF someone else is doing it, they'll have figured out the most of the dirty work is being done by them, so it's no big leap to finish the job up. At least with your husband, he'll be able to see the benefit in cooperative efforts.

Just as a side note, many of us (me included) deal with osteoarthritis.  Just the part that sucks about getting older and having abused our bodies when we were younger.
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