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Basic Steps for In-Shop Tanning

If you ever apply for a job answering questions for a technical assistance help line at a taxidermy supply company, you better make sure that you understand the tanning process forwards and backwards. It would be a good bet that the most common subject for questions on the line will be about the steps involved in in-shop tanning. More and more taxidermists are tanning their mammal skins in their studios, and the success or failure rate they experience is usually dependent upon how well they follow the directions for the products.

Even though tanning products and chemicals have continued to evolve and improve through the years, the basic steps for tanning have remained relatively unchanged for decades. This is true because each step in the process is essential for allowing all subsequent steps to react properly. The complete list of steps for in-shop tanning has been published hundreds of times in magazines, books, catalogs, and on product labels. Yet in spite of all this information, there is still a fair amount of confusion as to what is required to produce a mountable quality tanned hide.

In an attempt to break the tanning procedure down into easy-to-understand steps, McKenzie has created a new series of four short videos featuring Rick Carter explaining the basics of in-house tanning. After watching these videos, you should come away with a good understanding of the basics of converting a raw deer skin into a tanned hide, ready for mounting.

Tanning Part 1: Specimen Care and Hide Preparation

In this short introductory video, Rick Carter explains the importance of specimen care in the field to the quality of the finished tan.

Tanning Part 2: Salting the Hide and Pickling

This edition features a demonstration of rough fleshing, splitting the lips, nose and eyes, salting, and the pickling process.

Tanning Part 3: Shaving the Hide and Neutralization

In this video, methods for shaving and thinning the skin are explained as well as the all-important neutralization procedure.

Tanning Part 4: Tanning the Hide for Taxidermy

Using modern chemicals, Rick Carter completes the procedure for tanning the hide for mounting purposes in the final installment in this video series.

As you can see, exceptional results can be achieved when using the proper procedures. Processing hides yourself also gives you convenience and control, as well as providing a rapid turn-around time when deadlines are near.

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