We have several hides to tan and I was wondering if there was any equipment(stretchers) that would help to get the hides soft and pliable and have a nice shammy look to them. We have done one and it looks fine, just not real pliable. Is there an easier way than having to rub it across a table or board? Any ideas on how others do it would be helpful.
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I have found much of it depends on the tan, method, and when you start breaking the hide. If it is not a good tan you won't get the results you expected. When you get a good tan you will be surprized how easy it is.
I have used this contraption for about 14 years. I can use an edge on one spot or drag the whole beaver or otter across the top. See photos at http://www.geocities.com/lfabich/Tanningref/breaker.htm
Also I have found that working the hide by hand will do a lot. Trying to crush and bend and twist the hide while holding it between two hands. This actually can had a lot of breaking to a hide. Think of the hide as a piece of wax paper. The more you crush and twist the paper the more the paper becomes uniformly white with cracked fibers.
I also have a wood lathe that I use as a sander. I have made a 2 inch dowel about two feet long. To this I have contact cemmented a strip of heavey duty 50 grit sand paper. It works quite well on the tanned hide to thin and clean up.