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Correct process for my first Hide

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Evicene, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. Evicene

    Evicene New Member


    My name is Evi and in from Australia.
    I'm about to attempt my first hide.
    I have preserved a mouse and mounted it, but this was only using borax and mentholated spirits. Which works well for such a small specimen but really isn't feasible for anything bigger. It also made for a rather stiff finish, which OK as it is mounted and tiny.

    I have spent the last week reading through the forums and taking notes and would like to make sure I have the right process before I start.
    I am getting rabbits and foxes from a local exterminator company. They are shot with air rifles.
    I will be keeping the rabbit meat for eating and disposing of the fox meat.
    I have advised the hunter to triple bag and freeze the specimens for me as quickly as possible.

    This is the process I was planning to follow:

    Partially defrost so that everything stays as cold as possible but workable to hopefully reduce slippage.
    Skin as Quickly as possible, removing as much meat and fat as I can.
    Turn the ears - not removing the cartilage.
    Split the lips and eyes.

    Cover with non-iodized salt and rub in, roll flesh side to flesh side and sit on a incline to drain water.
    Repeat if necessary.
    Leave for 24hours in a cool dry place.

    Mix the following
    1 gallon/3.8 liters water
    1 pound/453.5g non-iodized salt
    1 ounce/28g Oxalic Acid

    Test pH using pH sticks and ensure the pH is between 1.5-2

    Submerge salted hide for 72 hours. During this time, remove to flesh the skin and place back into the pickle.

    Rinse in cold water.

    Degrease (if required)
    1 gallon/3.8 liters water
    1/2 fluid ounce/29.5ml Dishsoap

    Rinse in cold water.

    1 gallon/3.8 liters water
    2 ounces/56.6g of Borax
    Submerge for 15-20mins, no longer.

    Rinse in cold water.
    Hang and drain for 30mins, not allowing the hide to dry out.

    1 gallon/3.8 liters water
    2 ounces/56.6g of LUTAN FN
    1/2 pound/226.7g of non-iodized salt
    For a fox 6 ounces of LUTAN FN is required, so adjust the other ingredients accordingly.
    Submerge for 12-14 hours

    Rinse in cold water and drain for 30mins

    Apply Neatsfoot oil 1:2 warm water.
    Reapply until the hide has soaked up as much oil as possible.

    Stretch the hide out and pin to ply.
    Break the hide using a metal brush to break down the fibrous structure.

    Anything I should do differently or is that about right?
    I understand there are many different methods.
  2. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    Between salting and the pickle, re hydrate the salted skins in cold water, change the water a few times until the skins are fully flexible and limp as a dish rag, and all blood is rinsed away. This will give you a clean pickle, and the pH will be more stable, and skins will be cleaner through the rest of the process with less odors in the final product.

    And the rabbits will have very thin skin and will rip and tear very easily, just so you know. They are a pain to flesh, so don't get upset when your dreams crash on the rabbit idea.

  3. Evicene

    Evicene New Member

    Thank you Low T for the reply.

    I will add that step into the process.

    Yes, i have read rabbits have very thin skin, cant be much thinner then a mouse though?
  4. I have never used borax to neutralize a pickle. Use baking soda and add one ounce to your pickle and agitate your hide. Check pH after 15 minutes. Keep doing this process until you reach a pH of 4.5 - 5 then let the hide soak in the neutralized solution for 20 minutes. At that time quick rinse your hide in plain water and let drip dry or roll it up in a towel to wring the water out. Next weigh the drip dry hide and mix your Lutan according to the weight of the skin as the directions say on the lutan container. If you need additional water to allow the hide to float freely it is ok to add water. The directions for the lutan to me do not have enough water and the hide will seem cramped. You can safely add water to allow the skin to float and the tan to reach all portions of the hide.
  5. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    Better read this thread. It was pointed out years ago by Oldshaver that the direction for Lutan FN, straight from the manufacturer, call for no neutralization step before placing in the tanning solution. It is to be neutralized after the tan float.

  6. Evicene

    Evicene New Member

    Thanks for everyones replies.
    This is where im getting my lutan fn from:
    It has some instructions there that say to use borax or bi carb. By the sounds I should be using bi carb? I wonder why they would mention borax. Does borax have any place in the process or is non iodized salt more appropriate?
    It definately mentions to neutralise first, as does everything else I have read. Was this a stuff up in the printing of the instructions at some point and it kind of stuck as the correct process for this product?
    I really wanted to use krowtann but unfortunatly its not available in Australia and cannot be shipped due to the nature of yhe product.
  7. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    I use Lutan, and yes the instructions are wrong, I get a much better tan when neutralizing AFTER the tan. I use to go by the instructions, and always had surface tan and raw spots. Thanks to Aubry Young for correcting us Lutan users. Now I shave the thick pickled skins, then they go straight into the tan, the pickle acid draws the Lutan into the skin. I can confirm, this is the better way to go.
  8. Evicene

    Evicene New Member

    Ahuh! fantastic!
    So i drop the hide into the pickle, rinse in cold water, then into the tan, rinse and drain for 30mins and then into the neutralising solution.

    When do i need to degrease or is that only applicable on beaver type animals and not foxes/rabbits?
  9. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    No rinse between pickle and tan, acid swell may happen. Flesh, salt, RINSE/rehydrate, pickle, tan, neutralize. Degreasing should be done at the last half of the pickle on greasy skins. Several days of pickle and degreasing pickle with several agitations, depending on how much fat is involved. Thin skins will take less days than thick skins in the pickle.

    For instance, a fatty bear will take several days in the degreasing pickle, and a second or third degreasing pickle may be needed until no more fat is noticed floating in the pickle. I roll my eyes when someone post that they just wash the bear skin once in dish soap. Anyway. You will need to practice the steps, try and tweak it to fit your needs.
  10. Evicene

    Evicene New Member

    Will I need to degrease a fox or rabbit? or will dish soap suffice for these animals? From my understanding they are not overly greasy species?
    How can I tell if further degreasing is required? Will there be a film of grease on the pickle?
    What does a degreasing pickle include?

    Sorry for all the questions!
  11. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    Mix the acid pickle, after the fox has been in for two days, add tannery degreaser, or any taxidermy supply degreaser that will not raise the pH level, then let the skin set in the pickle for as long as it takes to get rid of the fox and fat smell. Agitate the skin ofton every day.
    Yes, fat will float on the surface. Any fat residue still in the skin, will smell like a wet dog. The longer the skin is in the pickle, fat will be broken down by the acid. Do not rush the pickle.
  12. Evicene

    Evicene New Member

    Hmm i haven't seen any degreaser available in Australia.
    Can detergent/dish soap be added to the pickle? Or that will alter the pH?
    And I replace the pickle if there is too much scum on the surface or just remove it from the surface?

    I found this product:
    Says its detergent
  13. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    Kemmel 4 is what you want! Fox are not very greasy, but you want to rid of the k9 smell.

    Wait to see how much gunk you end up with on the surface, the pickle and Kemmel 4 will break a lot of it down over a few days.
  14. Evicene

    Evicene New Member

    Cool so I put that in the pickle on the 3rd day at the suggest amount of the lable?
    It wont bring the pH above 2?
  15. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    Just follow the instructions, it is made to work with pickles. I use it, it works, and the pH holds.
  16. Evicene

    Evicene New Member

    Do I remove the surface gunk before aggitating the hide?
  17. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    No, there will not be very much from a fox, you are worrying to much. Bears, Raccoon, Hogs, they are fat deluxe. Let the acid and degreaser do their jobs, 7 to 10 days is enough.
  18. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    Borax will indeed neutralize acids, however, bicarb aka baking soda is a better choice as it is much more forgiving and actually creates a buffer in the neutralizing process.
  19. Low T I have been using Lutan for 6 years and it was how I was taught, evidentally you and many others were as well. Why would they put out shady advice like that intentionally? It isn't like not telling us is selling more of their product! Now I am concerned about quality issues over the past few years, and whether any slippage issues were a direct result of that misconception. Wonder if that was also why I couldn't get a good soft tan either. They still are tanned, just not tanned as good? Are you going to keep using this product? Kind of burns my ass.
  20. Mr.T

    Mr.T Active Member

    Several vendors sold Lutan, bought it in bulk, sold it by the pound, and re printed the instructions possibly thinking that the neutralizing step was wrong, and that it was just like any other tan that requires neutralizing first, and maybe changed it. I don't know for sure.. And I will keep using it, it is still a great product. Old Shaver knows his stuff, and if it weren't for his post here in the archive, I would still be doing it wrong.