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Turpentine and Alcohol on small game mounts?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by Korde, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. Korde

    Korde New Member

    HI everyone,
    Newbie here. How many use the turpentine/alcohol method for doing smaller game mounts, and if they do, what is the ratio that you use?

  2. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I believe Chuck Testa can help you with that. I saw a video by him on Youtube or maybe his website that had a segment on this.

    I personally believe there are much better ways to preserve a skin, such as DP or tanning.

  3. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Henry Wichers Inchemunk, the master of small game used denatured alcohol to pickle his small game skins. I don't know what turpentine is supposed to do except give your mount an odd odor. Dry preserve is as simple as it will ever get without any mess or conventional tanning methods are easily don'e.
  4. Turpentine and denatured alcohol is the combo Chuck Testa uses. I maybe wrong but I think he explained that the turpentine helps keep the skin soft since denatured alcohol can make the hide stiff.
  5. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Chuck Tesla's work speaks for itself.
  6. I've watched a few of his videos, does does a good segment on mannikan alterations
  7. GregJ

    GregJ Active Member

    Does the denatured alcohol just control micro growth while the mount dries and make it dry quickly? It would evaporate quickly and leave nothing behind that could control microbes in the future-right?
  8. Possum Pete

    Possum Pete New Member

    Do you like his work?
    Johnnyclyde likes this.
  9. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I know you are asking George, however, I find chucks work to be somewhat lacking and sub parr according to my standards. He's not horrible, just not at the average or above category.
  10. BakerBoystaxidermy

    BakerBoystaxidermy New Member

    I would like to know the amount of each to use in a pickle also?
  11. I could be wrong, but to my understanding and how I do a pickle is neither of those products are used. For a pickle I use the formula of 1gal water to 2oz of acid +1lb of salt.

    Just want to reiterate that there *could* be a method of pickling using turpentine and alcohol that I don't know of yet so take it with a grain of salt.
  12. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I would not use either one of those.
    George likes this.
  13. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Turpentine is distilled pine tar. Adding alcohol will evaporate, does dilute turpentine, and using it in ant taxidermy process is nothing short of idiocy.
  14. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

  15. pygosti

    pygosti Member

    I have used this method for many years. 50/50 is the ration I use and have never had a problem. I had a prairie dog skin in this for 9 months and it mounted up perfect. When I pull the skin out of the tan, I rinse it in warm water to soften it up. The denatured alcohol will make it the skin somewhat stiff. Once you emerse the skin in it, you have to cover the skin to prevent evaporation. Good luck!
  16. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    When i was a kid we tanned rabbit skins with a 50/50 mix of turpentine and linseed oil. We did deer for mounting with a salt and white vinegar pickle..
    Last edited: May 12, 2022
  17. BakerBoystaxidermy

    BakerBoystaxidermy New Member

    In my opinion if you mix it 50/50 that is to much turpentine, it is over powering and you only need about 5/95 turpentine to denatured alcohol! I leave them in for three days to a week then take out wash with dawn dish soap and water, then rinse in cold water! I've done this for tanning a hide to hang and for mounts! This is for any animal up to a coyote size!
  18. socalmountainman

    socalmountainman Northwestern School of Taxidermy - Class of '73

    ...and, if I may add to this, it is NOT tanning the skins. It may be "pickling" as cucumbers in vinegar but, it is not tanning. If you are not going to home-tan or send it out to a tannery, use DP (dry preservative). I use Bess-Maid ( https://www.bessmaid.com/bess-maid-preservative ) but borax is almost as good.
  19. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Indeed as said it’s not tanning at all and it’s it’s a misrepresentation of tanning just like back in the day chase called a dry preservative a dry tan lol. It does not change the structure of the skin into workable leather. Using that method collapses the fiber and only preserves it.
    Those who call this tanning is so uneducated in the process of tanning and should really learn the process of it. Even what we’re doing does change the structure of fibers but there’s a lot more in producing high quality leather for garments like shoes etc
  20. RunaFox

    RunaFox New Member


    Carl Church (a UK bird taxidermist) uses in his book a recipe for birds a ration of one tenth alcohol to distilled water but you MUST add salt!

    I have tried this recipe on critters up to the size of a squirell but it's NOT a pickle, it's really used just to nuke away bacterial quickly for same day mounting. The process on small squirells and critters, plus small birds is - skin and flesh, wash several times in dish soap and salted water that's allowed to cool, drain, then soak in water that contains 10% rubbing alcohol and salt for 30 mins, rinse, blow dry.

    A different method from Mike Gadd's book is to soak your squirrel in either turpentine or methylated spirits (denatured alcohol if you're outside the UK - it has nothing to do with crystal meth ;) ) at least over night, but preferably for two days. Mike Gadd states that since both evaporate, lid the box (must be plastic or non reactive!). It is also highly flammable so store the lidded box outside or in an outbuilding if possible. You will then need to dry the inside with tissue paper and coat in borax and salt directly before mounting. Don't leave the pelts covered overnight as you'll have to wet them again to soften them for mounting. The borax and salt will help to dry the skins out and stop bacteria while you're putting them on the form.

    You can also use acetone, mixed with alcohol, but beware both are also flammable. If using Mike Gadd's method use only turps or alcohol for overnight soaking, do not add water or it'll be too weak!

    I've tried both of these methods and they work well for tiny critters. Alcohol nukes the bactiera and dish soap degreases and washes away blood. However, since I only began in taxidermy this year, I can't vouch for the longevity of the mounts these methods produce. Neither are NOT a proper pickle or tan, and you will still need to take steps to repel bugs and moths - I spray even the tiny critters with a spritz of "taxidermy protector" from Rug Doctor.

    I hope I helped, even though I'm a complete newbie myself.