Beginner has some tanning questions...

Submitted by Amy on 8/26/01. ( )

Hi everyone!

I'm 14 years old, and definately a beginner. I've never tanned any pelts before. I just dried the pelts after I skinned them, and they would turn really hard and stiff.
Well, I'm tired of that, and I want to learn how to turn my pelts into nice, soft, stretchy leather.
I've been doing ALOT of research on tanning lately, and I THINK I know what supplies I need to get and what I need to do. I just need one of you professionals to tell me if I'm right.
I'm planning on making an order to a taxidermy company soon, and ordering:

Pickling crystals
Lutan F
Protal tanning oil
Sodium Bicarbonate

Is this all I need for tanning?

According to what I've read, this is how the tanning proccess goes:

Fist the pelt is soaked in a pickle solution (which consists of pickling crystals, water, and sodium bicarbonate)
Then, it is soaked in a tanning solution (Lutan F, water, and salt)
Then, it is rubbed with tanning oil

Am I right? I know this is long and sorta complicated, but I just have alot of questions that need answering! Thank you so much!


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Salt and dry yhe pelt. then relax it in the pickle solution

This response submitted by John C on 8/26/01. ( )

This pickle should be at 2.0 or less, keep a check on it as a salted hide will raise the pickle, also be sure you add salt to the pickle to reduce chance of acid swelling.

Next shave the hide, return to pickle for 24 hours, now neutraize it with the soda bicarb. now wieght the hide(s) and mix the correct amount of tan for them, adjust the tanning mix to the pH stated, Keep a eye on them at this stage as you can over tan. Once complete oil and stake for softness. You could also get a old cloths dryer seal all holes and drum them in hardwood saw dust.


This response submitted by Bill Yox on 8/26/01. ( )

Generally speaking, you must salt the hide to remove fluids and tighten the grain of the skin. The its into the pickle. We all use different types of pickle, but its meant to lower the pH number to pull protiens out of the skin and to stabilize it, as well as prepare it for shaving. Shaving is not fleshing, which is done when prepping for salt. You mentioned sodium bicarbonate in your recipe, it doesnt go in the pickle, its used to neutralize the pickle afterwards. Once the skin is shaved it can be drained and then tanned, again, there are many types and methods. Care must be taken to not overtan, and finally the skin is oiled. Many folks question the need for oiling. I would strongly suggest you contact someone like Bruce Rittel, VanDykes or Jonas Brothers for specifics. They all sell thier own products, but they are knowledgable as well. Most of us here are still arguing over which way is best! Good luck.

Sodium Bicarbonate...

This response submitted by Amy on 8/26/01. ( )

You say that it is used to nuetralize the pickle afterwards...
How much sodium bicarbonate should you put in, per gallon of pickle?

Neutralizing bath

This response submitted by Wava on 8/26/01. ( )

Hi Amy,
You can use 1 oz. of sodium bicarbonate per gallon of water for the neutralizing step. By the way, I noticed you didn't have ph test paper on your list, you'll need that to check the ph levels. You'll also want some plastic gloves so you don't get bare hands in this stuff.

You can buy the salt (non-iodized), gloves and baking soda at the grocery. That way you don't have to pay the shipping on it.

Good Luck and let us know how it turns out!


This response submitted by Amy on 8/26/01. ( )

Ok... let me make sure I've got this correct...
Is this the order that I should do the process in-

#1- Skin the animal
#2- Flesh the skin
#3- Dry it with salt
#4- Rehydrate it
#5- Soak in a pickle bath, using Ph test paper to maintain a level of approx. 2
#6- Shave the skin
#7- Soak the skin once again the the pickle bath, adding Sodium Bicarbonate to neutralize
#8- Tan the skin
#9- Oil the skin

Have I got this right?

Almost there, Amy

This response submitted by Wava on 8/27/01. ( )

When you salt, do it twice. Salt the hide well, make sure salt gets into every nook and cranny, leave for 24 hours, elevated slightly (so fluids can drain) next day, shake off the old salt and repeat, then let the hide dry rock hard. It is this that will set the hair.
Also, for the neutralizing, I just mix it up seperately instead of adding it to the bath because sometimes the pickle is pretty gunky by that time; but you can do it either way.
Also, rehydrate with cool water and depending on the skin, don't leave it in too long, just until it is supple again.
You know, a good investment might be the beginner booklets offered by WASCO, they go through these steps as well as covering birds, fish and some novelty things too. Good Luck, and have fun with your project.

Send it out

This response submitted by Eric on 8/31/01. ( )

I haven't done a lot of tanning but I do know that it's almost impossible to get the soft garment tan at home. I'd send it to a tannery or furrier. A guy I work with sent out a red fox and a beaver. It's around $20 a piece I believe. You'll get a nice soft tan. Anyhow you probably don't have a shaving machine anyhow. That's my 2 cents. good luck

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