Hello, Mr. Rittel,
Recently I was approched and asked about tanning some sheep/lamb skins (hair on). Are there any special additional handling in the preperation or tanning process? These hides are salt dried, black wool, stored for about one year.
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Easy to tan - but - the wool can be a problem! First you must remove the manure balls (cut them out) and lanolin grease from the wool. Be careful using a degreaser - it has to cut the grease - but also rinse free otherwise the absorbant wool will hold it. Rittels sells a Wool Degreaser (WD-608) specifically for this job. Once you remove the grease - you will notice that all the dirt and other debris in the wool will also come out with it.
However - now you are facing combing the wool - and this is not an easy job. Even Tanneries have to have special combing machines for this operation.
My own advice would be to tell them you'll tan and clean it, but they will have to comb it out. Or you can simply send it to a reputable Fur Tanner like Bucks County Fur Products in Quakertown, PA and let them do the whole thing for you. Their Phone # is (215) 536-6614. They specialize in Sheepskins and Buffalos.