I have tanned my first hides with a new auto tanner. I oiled my skins when they where about 80% dry. I'm not real happy with the softness and plyability. So i reoiled them and still not happy. I can see that i may need to shave them a little more but what can i do to soften up the edges and have a nice hide.
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I don't have an auto tanner, and I'm sure there are some here that do that can give you more info on what you can do with one, but; I'm pretty sure you have to break that hide if you want it nice and soft. Either by hand or with a tumbler. And to be effecient at breaking, the tumbler has to be at least 6' in diameter. I don't have a large tumbler myself, but I've done smaller stuff by hand and I don't let it get that dry before I oil and start breaking. Oil, sweat, then the breaking process pretty much dries the skin. Hope that helps, Carl
I'm in the process of trying my first "soft" tan too. I'm hoping for and expecting good results, due to what I've read from Bruce Rittle. It seems to make logical sense. This is basically what I've taken from the reading...
A good soft tan starts way before the actual tanning process. First you must salt your well-fleshed hide to pull all the bad proteins and fluids out of the hide and get the hair set really good and tight. Then, after rehydrating, use an acid bate in your pickle bath (I prefer the safety acid pickle). This eats fatty acids in the hide, and is really important in producing a very flexible soft leather. Shaving is also a factor... if you don't shave your hide thin, it won't be as soft and easy to break. After the tanning, use a GOOD oil like Protol. Cheap oils don't do the job, even after using twice as much. A good oil should provide good coverage the first time. Lastly, like Carl said, a large room-size tumbler does the job best, but if you're not a commercial tannery, you won't have access to this equipment. But tumbling is best to break and dry the hide.
I used Protal for a little while and I thought it lacked in quality. I am using Knoblchs Tanning Oil #1 now and it is much better. Rittels also has a really good tanning oil called Proplus.