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Alligator Rug Help

Discussion in 'Reptile Taxidermy' started by rflinn77, Apr 23, 2016.

  1. rflinn77

    rflinn77 New Member

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    Hi, wanted to get some tips & pointers. My alligator rug is about done tanning and I am getting ready to put in onto a board. The tricky part is getting the legs cut right so they will lay flat and stretching the skin so it doesn't curl. Any advise would help, thanks.
     
  2. John67

    John67 Member

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    I'll be at the same point in about 1 week. How did you prevent the curling of edges? I'm planning to lay flat on a piece of plywood and clamp a piece of wood over the edges to prevent curling while drying, unless anyone out there has a better recommendation
     

  3. stroh

    stroh Member

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    You will need to screw 2x4 to the bottom of the ply wood. If you use just plywood it will still bow when it drys. I made with 4 - 8' 2x4s and 2-4' 2x4s. Framed it like a wall.
     
  4. John67

    John67 Member

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    Thanks for the tip Stroh!
     
  5. James Marsico

    James Marsico Well-Known Member

    It has to be a dry tan by a experienced big operation tannery and not a wet tan. I tried one wet tanned and it was a nightmare for me. I finally made it work but nightmare discribed the work involved. I also brushed on liquid soft to the scale side after I stretched the last big croc I rugged that was dry tanned and that helped. Leave it nailed down on the 2x4 reinforced plywood board for at least a month. Thats my experience anyway.
     
  6. John67

    John67 Member

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    James, I'm dealing with a 10'4" gator, and it is definitely more difficult to work with due to the lack of pliability and the need to remove meat from the scutes, however, pressure washer did take care of 90percent of the work. It's an experience for sure! Tannery would have been MUCH easier!

    Thanks for the tip on the month long drying period and oiling the scutes/scales!
     
  7. John67

    John67 Member

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    Wow. A 10'4" gator is an amazing amount of work to tan. It's equally time consuming to stake out since it doesn't stretch that much. I cut a relief near one of the front arms , and that was a mistake. So, I repaired the cut, shaped the legs in desired position, and screwed down some cut to fit plywood. Pictures illustrate how I staked the outline to prevent curling of the edges. I expect it to come out well.

    BTW, EZ-100 tan worked well on the gator.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. John67

    John67 Member

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    Another picture
     

    Attached Files:

  9. John67

    John67 Member

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    Final picture
     

    Attached Files:

  10. Ares

    Ares New Member

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    After laying out and nailing a croc or gator skin to a framed piece of plywood, I build 12" walls around the croc / gator skin. I then place a large sheet or several sheets over the skin making sure that the entire skin is covered by a single layer of sheet. After that, I dump multiple 50lb bags of "very dry" playground sand on top of the skin until the highest area of the skin is covered by at least 2" of sand. Afterwards, I level the sand and place plywood on top of it. I place 45lb, 35lb and 25lb weight plates on top of the plywood to press the sand down against the skin. The sand absorbs moisture as it presses down both high areas and low areas evenly in a way that a flat piece of plywood cannot do - plywood laid directly on top of croc / gator skins can flatten the scutes. Once the skin has dried for over a month, I use a stiff brush and an air compressor to remove the sand and dust that stick to the skin.

    Also,
    Once dry, I seal my skins with an oil based (workable) sealer - not a water based sealer - because ANY water based product absorbed by the skin will cause the skin to curl / buckle. Evap coolers, rainy weather or too much moisture in the air will cause the skins to curl as well.
     
  11. John67

    John67 Member

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    What a great idea. Definitely storing that trick in the memory bank!

    Would you mind sharing which oil based (workable) sealer you use?
     
  12. Taxidermistchristie

    Taxidermistchristie New Member

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    I also have a question about doing a gator rug head on. After the tannery gives it back to me is the body going to be soft tanned and head wet tanned? Or do I need to rehydrate the head to put mouth piece and eyes in
     
  13. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    This is my opinion, and I've done loads of gator skins. You are leagues ahead to glue it to a piece of 3/4" plywood for the finished product. It's not like you are going to curl up with this thing around you on a cold winter night. It needs to be displayed flat. There is a trick to undercutting the armpits to make it lay flat. Just think FLAT. Remove every bit of skin that would be turned under. I tan them in an ammonium sulfate tan for 48-72 hours. This tan is the best I've ever found for preserving the skin colors. After tanning, I rinse, drain, then tack them to a drying board for not one, but TWO months in a room with a dehumidifier. All trimming is done while its wet. You will be shocked at how thin and light it is after a thorough drying. The finished panel is ready before the skin is removed from the drying board. I lay the skin on the panel, trace around it, cut the panel to match the skin, bevel the edges, then glue down the skin. It's glued down with Loctite Power Grab 3X.
     
  14. RIcky_86’CJ7

    RIcky_86’CJ7 New Member

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    I had the same idea with the sand but I didn’t want to wait till next day to go get it, so I used an air mattress we take camping!!! NAILED IT! Ben doing that ever since. I lay down my sheet, throw the mattress on it, stick the air port through a hole in my top piece of plywood, secure it so it won’t fall through, screw the plywood down, then inflate n wait!