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How do I get a dry, stretchy tanned leather???

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Katie H, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. Katie H

    Katie H New Member

    Hey guys, I am still new to using EZ-tan 100, and I am wondering what to do different to get a dry but stretchy skin? Does it have to do with how well the hide is fleshed? Or how well it is decreased? Or is it the type of oil that I am using??? I have been using neatsfoot oil, but b4 I buy any other type of oil, I want to know if it is necessary. I would appreciate any advice, to perfect my tanning!!! Thanks
  2. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Katie, you have a misunderstanding about leather processing. You've tanned the hide but have you "broken" it. To get a "soft tan" a hide must be broken thoroughly. As for oils, Neatsfoot oil is a FINISH oil that produces a "candy coat" on leather. I've never heard of it being used to tan a hide, but then again, I only use a water based oil. Cheap hand lotion will work, but not nearly as well as some of the professional products available. I've used PROTOL from Van Dykes. Breaking a hide not only collapses the cell structure, it collapses the person trying to do it by hand. If you're looking for "soft stretchy leather", you best bet is to have it professionally tanned where they can tumble a hide to break it.

  3. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    All of the above.

    and what George said...
  4. Mike Powell

    Mike Powell Well-Known Member

    I use an old dryer with the heat disconnected as a tumbler to break the hide. I throw in corn cob grit and tumble away and rub in a good oil for softening the hide. Its still a lot of work and I do not get it as nice and soft as you would get from a tannery. If you want reallz good results send it to a tannery as George said. If you just want to do it yourself, then find something serve as a tumbler for breaking the hide. Check the archives for more info on breaking hides. Good luck either way!

    P.S. My dryer/tumbler will only adequately do a hide up to the size of a cozote or a deer cape. Nothing much bigger.
  5. Thistle

    Thistle New Member

    Been reading a few threads, and speaking personally, one thing that`s becoming apparent is, in America and Canada taxidermists have it very much easier than the UK, I think. ;) More variety of supplies, including some products you use, such as real Borax, that is banned here, and others I haven`t even heard of over here.
    I see, time and again, beginners ask questions like "What do I use to so and so?" or "Can I substitue x for y?" and in one thread, somebody got told to basically not be unprofessional and buy the `real` product. (not talking about this thread in particular, sorry)
    Y`know though, some of us beginners are pretty poor ;)
    and as well as money issues, we don`t even have access to a lot of the products many of you have, or to get them we`d have to spend a great deal of shipping money, again, cash we don`t have.
    Surely ALL taxidermists, past and present, aren`t independantly wealthy?! Must be at least some guys, who did GOOD taxidermy too, in the past and now, without a cent to rub together, using just what they could because they had and have a love of the project and trade?
    Please bear that in mind when you`re giving advice. I realised I`ll get flamed for this, but it`s a good point to make. I`m seeing some, dare I say it...snobbery, in taxidermy. Should`nt we all stick together instead and support those who are drawn to the trade through love of it, even if they can`t afford all the modern bells n whistles?

    Ok, gonna hide away now because you guys are brutal when you flame somebody, so catch ya later. :)

    Oh ps...I hand tan and break all my hides excepting rabbit skins, on frames. Yup, I remember somebody saying "Who does that anymore?"...well, I do. :D Works a treat, I have great arm muscles as a result and all my tanned hides are buttersoft. :)
  6. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Thistle, wealth doesn't have much to do with it. Most of us start out poor thinking we'll be rich by becoming a taxidermist and then live and die poor because of the choice. Those that "get rich" move away from the nastier jobs and start supply companies. LOL

    Many of the beginners who get "flamed" here don't use the safety net built into the site (BEGINNERS) because instead of reading and understanding the site, they just jump into the middle of issues. Hell, even I have to be careful when I go to the bird brains, fhish heads and bone heads categories. Talk about ANAL!!!! So if you have a "entry level" beginner question, use that Beginners section so you can identify yourself to those inclined to answer.

    I'm sure we Americans DO have better and easier access to taxidermy supplies as it seems to be the place where taxidermy has moved away from the outhouse operations of 20/30 years ago. We can't be apologetic about everything like Obama and the Dixie Chicks. We are what we are. The trait you display of prestating that you've "looked" for something and haven't found it. Many come on here with the gall to tell us we should just tell them instead of telling them where the information is. I think that's a female trait as the biggest pains in the ass tend to be boys and young men who think the world owes them something.

    So just count your blessings and thank Ken Edwards for forming this site on the internet. Here you can get FREE what many of us paid a helluva price to learn.
  7. Thistle

    Thistle New Member

    Och George.... :)
    I DO look for things first, but this is a huge site and I have to work too! ;)
    And I have never told you guys to do anything except this once and that was only for a little understanding, instead of assuming that newbies can automatically go out an buy x y and z. :)
    Or that our methods are outdated. (usually because of said lack of funds and the only access we`ve previously had has been out of date online books )
    I am very appreciative of this site and have already learned much more in the space of a few weeks than I could ever have hoped to, on my own.

    I kinda like the Dixie Chicks though.....

    (thanks for not flaming me!)
  8. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Oh, you have no reason to "ouch". Your point is quite valid and I recently begun checking avatars to see if the person is "over the pond". I just found your post to be a two way street that advance warning can help greatly.
  9. Katie H

    Katie H New Member

    Thanks Thistle... I think we are on the same track! I am tanning for fun, and just want to perfect the hides that I do. I tan mostly for myself, so I don't make any money off my hides. If I could get some good advice, then maybe I could eventually tan more for profit. George, if I would've just brought all my hides to a tannery, I don't think I would've ever been interested in this hobby. I'm still young and I have plenty of years to learn. I greatly appreciate any advice... other than being told to send it to the tannery. ;)
  10. Mike Powell

    Mike Powell Well-Known Member


    Keep in mind that what makes this forum so great is that you can pick up excellent advice from professional taxidermists with years of experience. I responded to your post "assuming" you might be interested in tanning yourself just for the fun and challenge of doing so even though you said nothing to that effect in your original post. George gave you accurate information from the perspective of a professional. If you want to learn to tan hides by hand, by all means, go for it. Read the archives and continue to ask questions, but keep in mind that those from whom you need advice are going to give you an answer from the very perspective that makes their advice worth taking. If you will state clearly your intent, you'll get a clearer answer. Do take note that tanning is VERY hard work and a long process to get the kind of results you may be looking for. No one said it is impossible, but if someone comes on here asking professionals about tanning, it is natural for them to assume you may be asking, not as a hobbyist, but as someone looking to go into the business. Thistle's comment, while making a valid point from his context in Europe, is off the mark from the US context. If you are going to tan several hides a year and expect to make money, you will find it is NOT cheaper to tan yourself unless you are willing to work for $1 an hour or less. Thistle is critical of those who recommend sending out to a tannery because he says he can't afford it. Most full time taxidermists on this site send most of their hides to tanneries because they can't afford to do it themselves. If you only count the cost of materials, you can do it a little cheaper (not a lot) at home.

    If you only do a few hides a year and enjoy doing it yourself (as I do) then take the advice, use it and have a great time learning. I've been at it for several years and have invested in quite a bit of equipment and still cannot get the same results as a tannery will give (the point of your initial question), so be patient. Again remember, you're not asking questions of other hobbyists, for the most part. You have the privilege of learning from some of the best pros in the country (world even) and you need to understand the perspective from which they are sharing.

    Thistle expressed frustration that the pros on here giving the advice others are seeking, seem to disregard the context of those asking the questions, but in doing so he is doing the exact same thing. He totally dismisses the context from which the advice is being given. The one asking for help is not the one who should dictate the terms of the help given, especially when its free!

    I do wish you the best and please do keep asking questions and learning from the vast wealth of experience available on this site. Best of luck!
  11. Thistle

    Thistle New Member

    Thistle`s a she ;)
    and at no time have I ever `dictated` anything from anyone on this site. :)
    My point was that perhaps the pros, who have had a long time to get to where they are at now, should take into consideration that many beginners either don`t have the cash to do as they do (such as send out to a tannery or buy the latest fleshing machine) or they may actually want to learn the old, hard way simply for enjoyment or the sense of achievement.
    As Katie has already stated she`s in it for fun, then my suggestion of tanning herself and using a frame to soften the hides was actually not a bad one. :)
  12. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    I am sorry Thistle, this site is not for primitive taxidermy, there are other sites for that. If you want to know the latest and greatest, ( and that takes money) this is the place. If you want to do it old school, thats going backwards for most of us here. Primitive tanning has it's own fans,,, on another site. You can't mix the two, primitive taxidermy and new high tech. There is no middle. If economics has you hand cuffed, there are other sites that coddle to penny pincher's. But don't expect people on a modern cutting edge taxidermy information site to spoon feed you the old fashion homemade under the kitchen sink concoctions. We tend to like to move forward on this site, not backwards in taxidermy. If you haven't noticed, the ones that own this site sell and promote modern day taxidermy products. WASCO has two coveted awards that is highly prized and sought after at competitions. The WASCO, and the Polytranspar award. Nobody wins those by using primitive taxidermy ways, or by cutting corners because they have no money. The company may have a few old school products for those that do not want to conform, or can not climb into this current century. I am just saying, don't expect old fashion on a budget techniques from a modern site. You might get lucky here and find a few old guys that may tell how they use to do it before modern products came along, and those same guys will also tell you that there are better ways of doing it today. Where do you get the notion that years past before modern taxidermy produced anything good?
  13. Katie H

    Katie H New Member

    This is sorta off on a new subject, but someone gave me a coyote. It was in the freezer and is partially dried, and I'm wondering if I just soak it in salt water before I flesh it??? (am I correct that it should be mostly fleshed b4 putting it into the safety acid?) Or do I put it into some other solution to get it relaxed? Thanks
  14. Thistle

    Thistle New Member

    Are you actually telling me to get lost? Because that is what most folks mean when they start sentences with "I`m sorry but..."

    Good job I`m thick skinned and prepared to ignore such rudeness disguised as polite re-education. ;)
    Listen, I have been the first to admit how great this site is. But everyone has to start somewhere and for some of us, that`s with old methods. Live with it, huh? I`m not taking anything away from you, so see no need for you to act as if I am! I gave my opinion, that`s all. You`ve made it clear you don`t agree with it and that`s fine, I have no problem with that. :)
    I don`t do elitism though, sorry. ;)

    And good results from old methods? Seen it with my own eyes, and am sure that many old timers, as you put them, have too. Am not and never have disputed the new methods and purchases available there to make a taxidermists life easier or the end product more `glossy`, but we don`t all have access to that in the beginning.
    I`d also like to point out that without the years past before modern taxidermy, you`re unlikey to have modern taxidermy at all. Because I`m sure the guys inventing all the flash bangs for it all had to discover taxidermy somewhere.... ;)
  15. Thistle

    Thistle New Member

    Katie, I soak my hides like this in warm salt for a few hours tops which usually does the trick. :) I find it makes them easier to flesh (if you are hand fleshing) and haven`t had any probs with any so far. :)

    Edited to add, you can also add an antibacterial agent, I hesitate to give a brand name because the ones I know over here won`t be the same as yours but am sure someone else can give you suggestions. :)
  16. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    I like her....

    Sometimes to understand the new we must explore the old....

    It's called research T..
    and each and every one of the "new fangled" tanning methods are possible because someone understood "the old".. ;)
  17. Mike Powell

    Mike Powell Well-Known Member

    My apologies Thistle!!! I didn't check before making the "he" reference (my bad!). My main point is that it is the one seeking advice who bears the responsibility to do either make the considerations you asked of the professionals giving the advice. If this were a school or a pay per advice site, then I would agree with you. In that these men and women are taking their time and sharing their experience for free, then the onus is on the advice seeker to be a little more tolerant and considering of the perspective from which the advice comes. Even more so when the person asking the question doesn't clearly define the terms in which he/she wants the advice applied. From the initial question of this thread, it could easily be interpreted as someone asking advice on tanning in house as an aspiring professional taxidermist. No mention is made of her being a hobbyist who just wants to tan hides. You should not expect those who give advice on here to read the mind of everyone who asks advice. The person asking the question should take the responsibility to explain his or herself or take the advice given from the perspective of the one giving the advice and then apply it to his/her circumstance. Your point about cost is off base. The advice on here is almost always about saving money. Taxidermists don't send capes or hides to tanneries because they have extra money to throw around, they do it because its cheaper and they save money. The only way tanning a hide yourself is cheaper is if you are doing for yourself and/or you don't count your own labor.

    As an example, if you tan a hide and offer it for sale, and I send an identical hide out to be tanned and then offer mine for sale, they both will bring approximately the same amount of money. I will have invested a few more dollars in the tan, but will have invested only about an hour of my time. You will have saved a few dollars and will have spent a considerable more amount of time tanning your hide. While you were working for a hours and hours to save a couple of dollars, I was working on other projects to make considerably more money.

    If you want to tan for the experience, the education value, for the exercise or simply for the pleasure
    that's great and no one here will knock you for it. But what I'm saying is, if you want advice from professionals, explain yourself in your question or otherwise don't get bent out of shape when the answer comes back from the perspective of a professional.

    Bottom line is that tanning by hand is much more difficult and time consuming. It is more expensive unless you donate your time, and even then, only moderately so. Very few result in the same quality as from a tannery.

    If you tan very many yourself, I would hate to arm-wrestle you...you would probably humiliate me!
  18. Thistle

    Thistle New Member

    MLP, how in any way could that question be taken as someone tanning in house? Surely someone learning tanning under the guide of a professional wouldn`t be asking such questions? ??? I took it to mean someone at home, in the early stages of learning to tan their own hides :)

    Argh! I`ll just say this on the matter then nothing else as I feel I`m going round in circles here :p ;D
    My point was, I DO appreciate the new methods and experience of all the guys here, and what they do. But....
    when someone comes along, and they don`t have the access to (because of cash or location, whatever, you know?) the materials or facilities that most others do, would it hurt to provide alternatives? By which I mean, old ways which used materials that we are more likely at the moment, to have access to?
    You seem to think I`m demanding everyone cater to my whims, that I`m stuck on taxi-ing `the old way` but the only reason I`m doing it the traditional (or primitive as you call it) way is because I have so little cash and am stuck in the back of beyond in a tiny country on the edge of the world and haven`t got the resources or contacts many of you have here. Yes, I tan my hides because it DOES save me money (I`ve looked at the prices of sending a hide out over there and compared it to tanning myself) and so what if I don`t pay myself for the work? It doesn`t take me an inordinate amount of time to tan one. I`m not a professional taxi, you see? :) Makes more sense to do it myself. The end result is for me, not a customer.
    Please note, that isn`t enough to put me off taxidermy or trying! :p
    And, I was asking, and asking politely at that, I am not rude enough to demand.
    Out of all the members here surely there are a handful that would take the time to consider my point?
    If not, fair enough, but to be castigated for asking just deters people from joining up here...I`ve noticed you need to have a very thick hide ;D to stick around here. You guys can be brutal. :p
    There`s an air of elitism here. There`s a world of difference between pride in one`s trade and work, and snobbery. Where I come from, I see a lot of snobbery so it doesn`t deter me as in the end, my `primitive ` ways work well and that`s great. If I ever get rich enough to afford the machinery to do what I do, fab! I`ll do it! :) But if someone comes along then to me and says look, I haven`t got all the machinery/forms/latest chemicals to work this deer I shot but want to mount it, where do I start, am I able to do it myself? then so long as I have learned how, I`d tell them the simplest way possible to produce a hide for mounting using what they`re able to get hold of. That was really my main point, that`s all. I wouldn`t snap out "take it to a professional" in case they didn`t have the cash or a professional within distance. I wouldn`t put them down for wanting to learn to do it themselves, even if there was an easier way of doing it by having someone else come in. That`s because the experience, at least, won`t hurt and would give them the pride of having learned something new. :)

    Finally, I didn`t realise until you said so, MLP, that TaxidermyNet was ALL about advanced methods and cutting edge research. I thought it was a gathering place for ALL taxidermists, regardless of qualifications, resources or know-how, a place for newbies to learn and old timers to share.
    Someone like me shouldn`t have to `dress for dinner` to get in here as I`m no threat to anyone, with my methods or my questions. :)

    Don`t worry...been tanning hides for the past nine years but don`t, as yet, have arms like a Russian Olympic swimmer, so you`d probably win at the arm wrestling. ;)
  19. Mike Powell

    Mike Powell Well-Known Member

    Dear Thistle,

    I am not at all trying to be rude or or critical of you or anyone else sincerely asking for or contributing info. I NEVER said this for new and advanced methods, nor was I criticizing anyone who wants to do home tanning. My comment about "donating" your labor was not a slam, just a clarification. Tanning in house is cheaper ONLY if you don't count your time. As I said, I do my own tanning. My point, as concise as I can make it is this;

    People asking questions on here may be hobbyists, beginners or people trying to break into the business. The people with the answers - those you would want to learn from - are experienced professionals. IMO those answering questions should not be made to feel obligated to answer the question taking into consideration every possible perspective in which the answer could be applied, especially when the person posing the question is not too specific. I have read questions exactly like the one posed here, and when people answer assuming it is a beginner or hobbyist, the person gets all bent out of shape for being perceived as a "beginner". Even people that post questions in the beginner category.

    I understand your point perfectly. I just think if you want more diversity in the responses, make that clear in your questions. Those on this forum from whom we need to learn are not obligated to teach, and even less so to our terms.

    My sincerest apologies if I in any way sounded (I don't guess you can "sound" when writing) offensive. I wish you and Katie all the best and hope you enjoy the tanning any way you choose to do it.