? about brain tanning

Submitted by justin on 4/27/06 at 6:36 PM. ( porchop30@yahoo.com )

I have a freind that is working out of my shop. he is trying to brain tan a deer, and man the stink is awfull. I am asking to find out if he is doing something wrong. First he rough fleshed on my beem, then used the fleshing machine to get nice and thin, next he let soak in water for three days to let the hair slip. Now he's outside removing the hair and oh-man is it bad. please let me know if he is on the right track, or if he needs to throw 'stinky' away?

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This response submitted by Matt Richards on 4/27/06 at 6:53 PM. ( )

Hey Justin,

Some people do it that way, and yes it smells bad. A better method is to soak it in an alkaline soak (the opposite, but at the same time very similiar, to a pickle), which will prevent that bacterial buildup, make the hide easier to scrape, and make the brains penetrate much more easilly. See the website www.braintan.com, or the book "Deerskins into Buckskins"


This response submitted by Rick Carter on 4/28/06 at 7:21 AM. ( )

He should also try knocking the floorboard out of his car and ride like the Flinstones. He's trying to tan the way cave men did it. Buy a bottle of Krowtann. With all the mad cow disease and CWD it seems foolish to play around in brains when it is not necessary.


This response submitted by 9 on 4/29/06 at 5:53 AM. ( )

Rick, brain-tanned leather is some of the finest leather around. It is not for mounting as taxidermy except on the back of things or the covers on antler mounts, but why would you want to cut up a beautiful smoked braintan for such a tacky little kitsch?

If you were not aware, braintan leather is also the most expensive resale tanning-type leather there is (per species per square foot). It's also the leather of choice for people who don't want to "use a lot of chemicals" when they work hides, and it's the only leather that re-enactors and museum exhibit re-creators can use.

Say you want to repatriate a quiver from a tribe, back to the tribe. Do you use Krowtann leather to make a copy of that quiver for your exhibit? If you are stupid - sure, go ahead, lose your job... if you have an eye for authenticity and quality, you use brain-tan.

BTW most of the brains used in braintanning are not cervids at all - they are commercially processed swine (pig) brains. Which don't have CWD or mad cow.

Yes, it doesn't smell great. Make sure the hair is slipped and the lime is removed with a weak pickle before you brain. Tell your friend to simmer the brains for a day or 2 before blending them in to the slurry, next time. It won't stink so badly.


This response submitted by PAskinner on 4/29/06 at 9:17 PM. ( )

I didn't know taxidermists had such sensitive noses. I braintan all the time, and I normally soak the hides for 1-3 days in plain water before graining. In most cases, the smell is not that bad, unless it's a very old hide. (The hides are stored in a wet-salted condition prior to soaking)
BTW, "removing the hair" is not good enough, he has to remove the entire epidermis layer underneath the hair if he wants soft buckskin. The alkaline soak that Matt suggested, can also be done after scraping, which is how I currently do it.
The folks that ask "Why braintan" probably haven't had the chance to see or feel good braintan, but like 9 said, it's the only choice for serious replicators and re-enactors of by-gone days.

Thank you

This response submitted by Justin on 4/30/06 at 7:19 PM. ( porchop30@yahoo.com )

For all your responses. Apperantly, he is on the right track. I have never kept a skin that was slipping, due to the poor look of bald mounts.LOL. This young man is working on a set of leggings for reinactments and yes, he wants every aspect of them to be authentic. When he finishes with 'stinky', he is going to try several other types of tans. So far he is doing a great job , and I really enjoy having him around the shop. Just got concerned with the awfull odor. Gave me an opportunity to do some learning too. Thanks

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