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What makes a PROFESSIONAL Taxidermy tanner?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by Rhino, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. Rhino

    Rhino Too many irons in the fire will put the fire out!

    All the most successful tannerys in the US, were started by a Taxidermist, that got tired on waiting on his or her skins to come back from the tannery. That is a known fact, that you will often find in print.

    MOST tannerys buy their tanning supplies at a wholesale rate(volume), from the EXACT same suppliers that supply all the Taxidermy Suppliers. THE EXACT SAME
    products are just sold to Taxidermists in smaller quanitys, by Taxidermy suppliers.

    The average Taxidermist today, knows ten times more about tanning, than ANY tannery OWNER knew 10 years ago. Especially when it comes to WET-TANNING.

    I think that there is absolutly ZERO difference in wet tan procedures, and the products used to tan them, when it comes to tanning in house, or sending them out. Most tannerys can produce a better dry tan skin, because of the equiptment advantage they have. Drums, stakers, etc.

    To say that a "home" tanner cant tan African or bears in house(wet tan) is simply redicilous! To say a home tanner cant SHAVE african, is even a further stretch!

    So what you are saying here, is that a Taxidermist that started tanning for other Taxidermists, suddenly developed a superior shaving abillity, just because they tan skins for someone besides themselves? THEY JUST LEARNED HOW to shave different skins! Just like any Taxidermist learns how to shave skins other than whitetail deer! ???

    Shaving African is no more difficult than shaving anything else. The key to preparing a African skin for shaving is mostly in the rehydration. I have worked for tannerys that can have ANY African skin ready to shave in 72 hrs, and be able to shave it ALL THE WAY.

    I have worked at other tannerys, that made shaving African a nightmare, because of poor rehydration techniques. One place, you could shave an eland or blue wildebeeste ALL IN ONE SHAVING. Others made the whole process a cluster F--K, and had to shave skins multiple times, just because of BAD FORMULAS, at some given step of the process. Mostly the rehydration bath.

    The days of Tannerys having these secret formulas, with some type of superior techniques, are over. I used to be guilty of trying to blow this stale smoke up the Taxidermist a55e5 on here, for many years. I have seen quite a few shavers start their own tanning business, with great success, that knew very little about tanning. So to think a Tannery is any more professional than a Taxidermist, that can shave well, is a slight stretch of the truth.

    Plain english:
    1. same shaving blades are used
    2. same chemicals are used
    3. Used to be a Taxidermist, or still are(but for some reason, you are not as good)

    When it comes to wet-tanning, nobody can possibablly believe that flatulence! Keep a few spare spare blades when fleshing African. The skins dull a blade faster.
  2. Aubrey, I love your educational posts. Thank you!!! I found out first hand that after I started using a tannery to tan all my capes 4 years ago, I would have them take me around and show me how they did stuff in the tannery . I actually learned alot just from seeing certain ways they did stuff and equipement they use. Since I went to your tanning supplies this past year , made notes from steps you gave me, and purchased a 96 gallon Taxidermy Drum from Steve Ratramel that I can also use as a tumbler I have been able to produce a cape that is nearly as good looking as a tannery tanned cape. I just need to get the shaving a little closer and thinner but Im dang close. It surprised me as to how well I could actually do a cape even shaving wise. I hadnt shaved a cape in 4 years and was actually better at it now than when I stopped shaving 4 years ago .... Knowledge is a guys best friend. Hopefully I can quit using my cheat sheets and get everything memmorized in my head and get more proficiant in the processes.

  3. tmoos111

    tmoos111 Member

    Those are my thoughts exactly! Great post!!!!!!!!!!
  4. irishme

    irishme New Member

    ;) x2
  5. msbraintan

    msbraintan New Member

    One might want to consider the tumbling action on a skin. It is hard to replicate the glossy feel of the flattened hairs and also it is difficult to have a plump and stretchy skin without that tumbler.. don't ask me how I know this.
  6. gunner62

    gunner62 Gunners Buckhorn Taxidermy

    X3, Aubrey you have taught me more in my phone conversations with you about the In's and outs of tanning than I knew in my previous 20 years of tanning, precisely bears.
    I think that the biggest thing in producing a quality skin is to invest in a high quality flesher, spend the money the first time around and save your self a ton headaches. ;) Knowledge is power and Brother you are spreading that knowledge ;)
  7. ljones

    ljones 1994 wasco award winner

    oldshaver, would you mind elaborating on the proper way to rehydrate a salted flint dried African cape [ for instance a sable antelope size cape] , so your able to rehydrate and it shave in one step , using your products or others. thanks
  8. Rhino

    Rhino Too many irons in the fire will put the fire out!

    I need to make something clear here.

    Tanning african in-house, is NOT a cake walk, and will never be. Once you get past skins larger than a hartebeeste, it physically VERY tough on your body!

    I have 3 herniated disks in my thorasic spine, that can testify to the fact of the physical demands of shaving larger skins. I can post MRI photos to prove it!

    There will always be a genuine need for tannerys. Trying to tan a zebra, cape buffalo, wart hog, and some other skins, will quickly have you wishing you didnt attempt some skins!

    I am just saying that, there are more african skins that can be tanned in house, than there are ones you shouldnt attempt. Should you be anexperienced shaver? Yes.
    Learn how to shave these skins, on back skins if possible. That is how I trained shavers to shave african. Its really more of a issue of how much your time is worth, and if you are willing to bust your butt!
  9. Icarus

    Icarus Something Witty

    I'm really not looking forward to tanning and working my own hides now :)

    That's what I love about this site though. You can get on here any day of the week and always find something new, educational, and blatantly honest.
  10. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    lol Im a tannery! well then again I already knew that.
  11. trappersteph

    trappersteph now you can have it...

    Well I guess that means the tanned foxes I have been selling since last year are professionally tanned. The main trouble is breaking the thicker areas as I don't have a big tumbling drum. All done by hand. However the HQ tan and my OCD fleshing on the foxes' faces seems to have made things better.

    Wet tanning small/medium game is no problem of course, but I don't like deer capes. The main contention is my back and shoulders. The smaller critters I use a wire wheel to detail flesh them, after they have been in the pickle at least 24 hours.

    A few areas I have trouble with:
    -rehydration of air dried skins
    -grease burn looking stuff
    -neutralizing a weasel skin ( they are very thin- so how long to soak vs a fox?)

    And a question for oldshaver- do you know if the HQ tan ( pickle required) is a syntetic or synthetic blend type tan? I noticed rapid rehydration of a finished dried skin, like I saw with ez-100 and other syntans.
  12. Rhino

    Rhino Too many irons in the fire will put the fire out!

    Steph, why in the world, would you ask me about the HQ tan?

    How would I know whats in it? I have no idea whats in anybodys paint-on tan, except for one, nor do I care to know!
  13. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Come on old shaver your our kendle LOL.
  14. Got an answer for this guy?
  15. Rhino

    Rhino Too many irons in the fire will put the fire out!

    David, you already know this answer! Next time, feel free to respond. You aint gonna step on my toes! 8)

    Flint drying, is a term used to describe African skins that have been AIR DRIED, and not salted. They have been baked in the HOT African sun, by a dumba55 outfitter!

    Most of the thinner skins are garbage, and CANT be rehydrated. Some of the thicker skins can have the layer that has been turned into glue, shaved off, to expose enough corium, to still be tanned.

    The best advice anyone could give you, is to trash flint dried skins, and find a replacement, or refuse the work! The Taxidermist, and the Tannery, will both lose their a55 in labor, and you will still end up with a crap mount, with ZERO Stretch!

    If you are talking about a salted cape, than it isnt flint dried, Call Trubond for access to instructions on rehydrating African skins, that have been salted for a long time(extra hard), and need a little extra work.
  16. Good sales pitch Aubrey. Now that you are in the business of selling products you're not berating the taxidermist like you did for years. and admitted it. You don't have a clue when it comes to a difference in "wet tans" though, there is a huge difference between tannerys and their process.

    Good luck with the new version of smoke blowing there buddy!

    p.s. you maybe also shouldn't have went off continually on diifferent people who started their own tannery's, and opertated them them succesfully for many years, it might come back to bite you in the butt!
  17. ljones

    ljones 1994 wasco award winner

    Re: flint dried
    « Reply #4 on: May 19, 2007, 09:38:16 PM »


    Flint drying is a term given to skins that have been salted, and dried, in intense heat, and sun light. This is just my opinion, but, these skins are dried too fast, in the hot African sun. Still only my opinion, but, the skin structure is altered by heat, and rapid removal of moisture, causing a glue-like condition, that inhibits re-hydration, and future stretch. Still a guess, but if all of the skin fiber voids are full of "glue", theres no room for anything else. In a sense, the skin becomes one big piece of rawhide, that will never allow for tan fixation, or oil penetration, because no voids can be made in the fibers. Without oiling, stretch is greatly reduced. All African skins come back to the states, hard as a rock, if they have been properly taken care of. At least 6 months will pass from the time of harvest, till receiving them. Salt doing its job. Skins coming from Africa smelling like moth balls is normal, and are usually problem free. Skins are pretreated with paradichlorobenzene, a chemical to repel moth, and beetle infestation. You usually cant tell if a skin has been "flint dried", until pickled. They all look the same.


    KNOBLOCHS New Member

    I don't know who your trying to impress here but don't include Knoblochs as a company that anyone can get the same stuff anywhere else, that is a FALSE STATEMENT. We make all of our own products and manufacture our own chemicals. You WILL NOT GET ANYTHING LIKE OURS ANYWHERE ELSE.
  19. Rhino

    Rhino Too many irons in the fire will put the fire out!

    ljones, I spoke to a fella from Africa last year that clarified "flint drying" for me. I have never been to Africa, and physically saw their drying process. I am sorry that I was wrong about the salt, back in 2007. In the grand scheme of things, the same issue is still there. How to rehydrate hard african skins!

    Some of yall seem to feel threatened or consumed by my presence on Taxidermy.net. A fewTannerys especially! That has become transparent to many, and your doing it to yourself.

    The FACT REMAINS, that for every old post of mine you can find of mine, where I made a smart remark to someone, you will find 5 more where I helped somebody out.


    I have stood up for tannerys that have been slammed on here, and I have have stood up for someones elses home tanning products, when they were slammed, because I thought the home tan had nothing to do with a Taxidermists problem.

    Everything I say on here, I believe to be true. If I am ever wrong, I am human, and, I will always be man enough to admit it.

    I dont take ANY part in sitting around like gossipy little girls, sending PM,s back and fourth, talking junk about folks. That is a waste of time.

    Mark, Im sorry you took what I said the wrong way. It was not intended to insult anyone. If thats how Knoblochs does things, more power to ya!
    You could have just called me, and I would have been glad to clarify things. I have always liked you Mark, and wouldnt do anything to intentionally piss you off.

    KNOBLOCHS New Member

    I understand, i don't need to be in the catagory of a middle man that just buys stuff puts it in a bottle and don't know how to educate the public consumer.We get them calls that people buy stuff that the vender makes safe or not puts it in someones hands then don't help.