I am wondering what to use to hold the hides down under the pickeling and then tanning solution?
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a piece of plywood cut to the basic shape of the inside of the container I'm using then set a plastic jug full of water on the plywood to sink the capes.
Tanneries don't use half filled 5 gallon pails or anything else to hold hollow haired skins down! Simply turn them over when you come into your shop and again when you are ready to leave! They'll pickle!
After the first 3 days - then simply turn them over once a day! They will be fine!
Make sure the skin is fairly flat and not folded on itself to allow the solution to penetrate all areas.