Home made tanning solution ?

Submitted by Gerry on 5/13/02. ( gazwozhere@aol.com )

Hi Folks, looking for a little advice, here in the UK there is scarse information and supplies available for the budding Taxidermist, I have a Grey Squirrel skin salted and dried, after pickling I will need to ran it, and evrything I read about here is only available for USA based customers. Is there a solution that I can make up myself as a simple tanning solution? the Squirrel is not being mouunted, just using the skin for decoration. Any advice for me? it is not worth it ordering from the USA for 1 Squirrel hide!

Thanks in advance

Gerry Lewis

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This response submitted by Cur on 5/13/02. ( wildart@prodigy.net )

Here is the simplest method I know of to tan a small mammal's skin. I wouldn't recommend this for anything larger than a hare or rabbit.

The materials are simple to locate without sending you all over the place looking for exotic chemicals. The basic tanning solution is composed of just two ingredients: Turpentine and Alcohol. The procedure follows:


1. Mix the tanning solution.
Use a large-mouthed gallon jar with a screw top. Add equal parts wood alcohol and turpentine to the jar to cover a small fur skin. A half pint of each is sufficient for a squirrel or rabbit skin.

2. Shake or stir the solution each day, because the alcohol and turpentine will separate.

3. After 7-10 days, remove the skin and wash it in dishwashing or laundry detergent water to remove the alcohol, turpentine, and grease.

4. Rinse the skin well several times to remove the detergent.

5. Dry the skin by squeezing, not wringing.

6. When the skin is partly dry, proceed to the oiling and finishing process that follows.

OILING AND FINISHING (I believe you Brits call this fatliquoring.)

Let the wet, tanned leather dry somewhat. While it is still quite damp, apply a coating of suitable fat liquor oil (such as sulfated neatsfoot oil). The amount of oil required will vary depending upon the natural oiliness of the skin.

1. Make the fat liquor oil by mixing 1 3/4 oz of sulfated neatsfoot oil with 1 3/4 oz of warm water; add 1/2 oz household ammonia.

2. Place the skin on a flat surface hair side down. Apply part of the fat liquor solution to a portion of the hide and spread it evenly with a paint brush or your hand. Continue until the solution has been applied to the entire skin. Allow to stand for 30 minutes, then apply another coat of the oil in the same way.

3. Cover the hide with a sheet of plastic and let stand overnight. If several skins are fat-liquored at one time, they may be piled flesh side to flesh side.

4. The next day, drape the skin, hair side out, over a pole or sawhorse and allow the hair to dry. Use an electric fan to speed the drying.

5. Nail the skin, flesh side up, to a plywood board, stretching the skin slightly. Space the nails (no. 6 finish) every 5 or 6" around the circumference and about 1/2" from the edge. Dry the flesh side at room temperature.

6. When the skin is nearly dry but still slightly damp, work the skin in all directions, stretching it from corner to corner and working the flesh side over a stake or a wooden edge, such as the back of a chair or piece of board clamped in a vise. The skin may also be worked this way through smooth metal rings.

Success in producing a soft skin lies in repeated working, which must be done while the skin is drying out, not after it is dry. This process may be repeated several times if necessary; simply dampen the hide evenly and work it again while it dries.

7. After the skin has been softened and dried, give it a hasty bath in white or unleaded gasoline, especially if the skin is too greasy. Do this OUTDOORS, away from spark or flame. Allow to dry outside and that is that.

There are many folks here on the forum more qualified than myself to offer tanning advice, but this is an old Boy Scout technique and it will work on small mammal skins. You should be able to find the materials anywhere.


This response submitted by Gerry on 5/13/02. ( gazwozhere@aol.com )

Thanks Cur,

Very helpful advice, it can be really annoying reading through these posts and going to all the sites mentioned like WASCO and Ritters etc, seeing everything there I could possibly want, but not being able to get any of it, leastways not the chemical type things anyway, and equipment wise it would probably cost as much to ship over here as to buy it! I cant even find any information on any Tanneries over here, one or two commercial ones that may consider you if you've just slaughtered your herd of cattle, but nothing for individuals. It would be nice if anyone reading this could prove me wrong and tell me of a place i can be looked after in the UK for Taxidermy supplies!

Thanks again, i'll give it a go


Uk Taxidermy

This response submitted by Bonnie (aka Wolfwoman) on 5/16/02. ( thepredator@gci.net )

Try this link...
or this...

Or you can go to www.google.com and type in UK Taxidermy Supply and it will give you a ton of links!
Good luck!

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