Brain Tanning Question

Submitted by sjh on 1/4/05 at 6:31 PM. ( )

after brain tanning a deer skin, it is not as pliable as I had expected. I was wondering if I need to soak it in the brain tan again.

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Did you

This response submitted by on 1/4/05 at 6:48 PM. ( )

Did you break it and break it, and break it? The more it is stretched and pulled and tugged the more pliable it will be. Eskimo women chew the leather until it is soft and supple. I still can't bring myself to chew it though. Whatever floats yer boat!


This response submitted by Paskinner on 1/4/05 at 8:00 PM. ( )

Happens to all braintanners. Brain it again, wring and commence softening. Another alternative is to smoke it-to save your work-brain again and soften.

follow-up question

This response submitted by sjh on 1/4/05 at 8:10 PM. ( )

I do not believe that chewing the hides will float my boat.
Will smoking help soften the hide, or will smoking just "lock in" what I have?
I did work the hide while it was drying.

This response submitted by allen on 1/4/05 at 9:05 PM. ( )

There is a great forum at, find your way in there and you can ask them also. but like these guys are saying in here, break it, break it, it takes me about 4 hours. I start breaking as soon as it comes out of the brain solution until it it completely dry. I don't believe that if you smoke it at this point it will help, its been said that you might not be able to re-brain again also, the fiber/cells are coated in the smoke, doesn't seem like to me you can get brain to penetrate again. Resoak it, break it again,, and again, use a cable or axe blade and work it over that. I even put mine over my knee when it's almost dry and scrape with a dullish knife blade, but give it all the time and effort you can.

Re Brain

This response submitted by Bradlee on 1/5/05 at 9:24 AM. ( )

Re btrain it , wring it , lace it back up . Leave alittle bit of slack.
The axe handle or even a small bat works well . Just lean into it and work side to side and top to bottom . Breaking is the key here . You need to keep breaking the hide until it is dry . This can take hours and is alot of work but if the hide is still damp when you stop breaking , the moisture will stiffen it as it dries . Ofcourse , small hides are easier on a cable . Bradlee


This response submitted by PA skinner on 1/6/05 at 1:01 PM. ( )

Smoking a semi-softened hide is a good way to save what you have done, however, very important, put it directly into the brains after smoking. In most cases, it will be slightly damp, and soak up the solution like a sponge. They also wring easier and dryer after smoking.
There is a learning curve in softening for most of us, once you get a feel for it you can take a few more breaks, but, yes they must be worked until completely dry, all the way through. They'll be dry on the surface long before the center is dry.

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