Hi Bruce! I have been struggling in my tanning and would see if you can figure this out. We have had success wet tanning with the following schedule, but when dry tanning, the hides rehydrate rubbery without stretch. Here is the procedures in order of what we have been doing.
-Relax skins for 24 hours
-Rinse and then drain
-Mix Pickle- 1 gallon of water, 3 oz of citric acid, 1 lb. of salt at a ph of 1.5- 2.0
-Pickle for 24 hours then shave.
-Throw skins back into pickle for 48 hours.
-Take out of pickle, rinse and drain.
-Throw into tan
-Tan consists of 1 gallon of water to 10 oz. of salt to 1.6 oz. of tan per 1 lb. of drained skin.
-tan for 14 hours at ph of 3.5- 4.0
-Take out of tan and reshave.
-Raise the ph to 6 and neutralize for 20 minutes.
-Take out of tan and rinse.
-Hang to drain for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
-Oil and fold them and lay on table overnight.
-Than hang to dry 90% and throw into large tumbler.
-Tumble with sawdust 3-4 hours.
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I neutralize the skins with 1oz. of baking soda per gallon of water for 20 minutes then rinse before I put the skins in the tan not after they come out of the tan. When the skins are drying I work them over the edge of a table or something to help break the leather and start softening it and it also helps with the stretch. Then when there almost dry I throw them into a tumbler like you do. Hope this helps.
i could only do 3 deer heads a year - switch to krowtann for gosh sakes
here are my steps
throw in krowtann (3-4 days for deer capes)
neutralize for 30 minutes
rinse in fabric softener (for smell)
spin out water and mount
i order all of my deer forms exactly the size that the carcass neck was
If I was tanning only for myself, I would consider Krowtan because I have heard it is a good product, but I am trying to perfect a tan for mass production as a tannery.
I'll get back to you! I want to think this out a bit. Krowtan is good for the "quick and mount" people (much like our Fish-Tan customers) - but for a professional finish - you have the right attitude - you want to eliminate that rubbery (Acid Swelling) effect.
I'd leave my skins in the Citric Acid Pickle much longer than 24 hours. 3 days would be better - and they would plump out for easier shaving as well. If you only leave them in 24 hours - it's not enough time for the acid to fully penetrate and slightly swell the skin for shaving. Since you also have to shave out of the tan now - a good shave in the pickle would eliminate that step.
Also on your neutralization (or basification) after tanning - keep the PH level a bit lower - around a 4.5-5.0 is best. 6 is high. Depending on your tan a high Ph may precipitate it. Plus - a 4.5-5.0 final PH is well out of the swelling range.
It would help to know what tan you use. Obviously it also contributes to the final results. I also think you may be over drumming your skins on that final tumble. Usually 2 hours is sufficient for finishing. Do you use 100 Lbs. of sawdust in a 4X6 Drum for your tumbling?
Please feel free to e-mail me if you want to talk more about this. Use my e-mail address in the header.
I will try some of your suggestions and keep in touch. I am actually using an 8' tall tumbler with 80 lbs of sawdust. Any suggestions with how long and how much sawdust? Thanks. I will e-mail you for more info in the near future.
I'd go as much as 3 bags of sawdust. 150 Lbs.. You need the weight to soften those skins.
As far as time - I'd run them on the final drumming only 2 hours. That should be enough.