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First Time Tanning, What Method Should I Use?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by xOEDragonx, Aug 23, 2021.

  1. xOEDragonx

    xOEDragonx New Member

    I'm ready to try my hand at taxidermy-- but I have to learn to tan properly first. I have a deer hide in the freezer that I'm going to thaw out, flesh, and then attempt to tan for the first time ever. No harm if it doesn't work, this is a practice hide.

    I know I'm opening a can of worms here, but can someone recommend a specific method or product I should try for my very first home tan job? I have that Rick Carter dvd (how to do a deer shoulder mount) and he used Krowwtann so I was going to try that first honestly. But having talked to several taxidermists this weekend at a local convention, not one recommended it. Of course, they all recommended their own ways and it was a lot of information so I didn't really absorb any single one fully. But now I'm back to square one picking a method.

    For those that tan at home, what do you personally use. And would you recommend it to a beginner? If I try one that works, I'll probably stick to it for a while so I'd like to make it a decent one. Something accessible, something that can ideally be purchased in a small quantity until I know I'm going to keep trying this, and something that's not super difficult or requires extra steps to do it properly. I don't mind doing the work, just don't start me off with something tricky please.

    Thank you everyone!
    Julio Dias and Robert Baker like this.
  2. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Let’s put it this way, your tanning for mounting purposes only. So saying this most tans out there work fine for taxidermy. The bit is how many pass a boil test? Well that’s the question and a very few do. Does that matter in the world of taxidermy? Not really unless your anal and want to tan skins properly that is really considered a true tan.
    Skins that are going to be worn , used extra get different types of tans. Chrome tan is one of the best out there but totally useless for taxidermy work.
    Ok saying really means nothing to most folks. So pick a tan out and follow directions to the T.
    Remember to pickle for three days, drain, shave, back in overnight, drain, neutralize, tan and oil if needed.
    My tanning is that of doing a garment tan. It works great for a lot of home tanners and it’s used in the garment industry. The product is EZ-100.
    Krowtan tan is probably on of the easier one to use. Does it work? Yes but if not properly followed you’ll have issues and this goes for any tan. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS!! I can’t say that enough
    The best tans are soak tans ( not krowtan as it’s not considered or will pass the boil test) cause they penetrate better plus you’ll get good stretch after a good oil is applied.
    There are good rub on tans but find those that are stable as they need no or very little mixing. To name a few liqua-tan, try-bond and Pro1 .
    Rub on tans that need a lot of mixing can cause you not to tan properly cause of unmixed chemicals.
    Choose one tan and if you like it stay with it, if not try another. Ive tried many but always go back to my garment tan. JMO here
    Robert Baker and Johnnyclyde like this.

  3. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    I really like and use the Pro 1 system, and have tanned over 1000 capes ,hides and small game pcs with great stretch and luster .
    Robert Baker likes this.
  4. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    When I first started, I used these tanning kits;
    Tannum tanning kit from Van Dyke's
    Liqua-tan tanning kit from Research Mannikins
    EZ-100 kit now from T.A.S.CO.
    Recently, PT 500 from Headquarters.

    Quality wise, since I am a stickler for following instructions, they all had stretch, tanned/preserved throughout, and smelled good, except the krowtanned ones.
    Other than the krowtanned ones, they all preformed the same, which, is really well.
    Robert Baker likes this.
  5. ARUsher

    ARUsher Well-Known Member

    I really like to use the Tru-Bond system on my small mammals, but use Krowtan on my game heads. I haven't had any issues with either one as long as you follow the directions as Frank said. I have tried the PT 500 and it worked just fine, I just didnt like it as much as the other two. I haven't tried any of the others that were mentioned though as I have had good luck with these.
    Robert Baker likes this.
  6. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    My favorite one that I used was EZ-100, however due to time restraints and other factors, I found Liqua-tan more suitable to my schedule.
    Robert Baker likes this.
  7. msestak

    msestak Well-Known Member

    john rinehart had a brush on tan that i used on a wild boar close to 30 years ago. that mount is just as good now as it was then...rock solid and looking good. that mount is in great shape.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2021
    Robert Baker likes this.
  8. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Rinehart tanning cream is not the same formula and will give you less than desirable results compared to the original from what I have heard.
    Robert Baker and msestak like this.
  9. Mandi

    Mandi Well-Known Member

    I use the Mckenzie products. So far everything has tanned well and lasted. I just rehydrated one of my first mounts for a redo and had no problems.
    Robert Baker likes this.
  10. xOEDragonx

    xOEDragonx New Member

    Thank you for the feedback everyone!

    As I thought, sounds like opinions are just as diverse on here as they were talking to some taxidermy folks in person. But the bottom line from everyone is definitely clear-- follow the directions to a "T" and it should turn out no matter what I use. I'm pretty good at following directions, so at least it's reassuring to know there probably aren't any wrong choices in this regard.

    A couple of the brands I see listed here are definitely some of the names I heard over the weekend too. Pro 1 was definitely one, so was Liqua-tan. It actually looks like the owner of Pro 1 is local to me, so that makes me want to try it even more. I'm definitely writing all these options down though, I'd like to give each of them a try if I can in the long-term.

    Now I might be changing subjects a bit here but I didn't know if it warranted a whole new thread. When you tan a hide using liquid or rub on tans, is the hide then safe to be stored at room temperature? I assume it will dry out and get stiff, but I know people say you can re-hydrate them, what do you re-hydrate a dried tan skin with? If people tan their own hides at home for taxidermy purposes but don't plan to put the cape on a form the day it's done tanning, what is the proper method for then storing the hide until you're ready to mount it?
    Robert Baker likes this.
  11. Mandi

    Mandi Well-Known Member

    Roll up, plastic bag, and freeze.
  12. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I have let all the ones I listed dry out to see what would happen. I placed them into several gallons of water and a hand full of salt and they turned out good. I prefer, though, to wash them and then let them dry out a little rolled up in a towel until just damp. Then I dry the hair side with a another towel really well and do as Mandi suggested. It is easier to store and you don't have to mess with a rehydration process.
  13. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Remember this when you do a dry tan. Over time dry tans can and will have : 1 elasticity issues as you may not get full stretch from them. This will all depend on many factors, type of tan, how it was stored ( hot, warm, cool, frozen) . Personally the later part is best to store your tanned capes if you’re going to mount them. Now this isn’t to say a dry tan wouldn’t hydrate if kept in a warm or cool environment.
    Now to hydrate I use this formula as it’s used by tanneries.
    1 gallon of water
    4oz of salt
    Capful of a water softener.
    Soak for 20-30 minutes, drain, bag it and place in a fridge overnight. Should be ready to mount the next day but sometimes it may need it done one more time depending on thickness of skin and cartilage in ears.
    I wet tan all my skins if their going to be mounted and then freeze them. Now you don’t freeze them soaking wet. After I oil them and then I’ll hang them for a day so the hair side is pretty dry but the flesh side is barely damp. Fold them flesh to flesh and then bag it, freeze it till I’m ready to mount.
  14. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    I use Pro 1 products and after I put the tanning cream on I roll up and let sit for a few hours then bag and freeze. I don’t wash cape out till I’m ready to mount. I thaw in fridge the wash with a squirt of dawn and a cheap shampoo, rinse well , roll in towel to get most the water off then mount . It’s my opinion your just asking for issues if you let air dry and have to rehydrate any tanning system you use . You are adding a unnecessary step . That is not needed.
    livbucks and ARUsher like this.
  15. livbucks

    livbucks Well-Known Member

    If you want to try the Krowtann, you better be able to shave the skin properly. Any membrane left on the skin will contract to the extreme and turn to rubber. If you shave properly it is a great product. I never had any problem and once neutralized and washed in Tide they smell fine to me. Once dry there is no smell. I left a wet Krowtanned skin in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for 6 weeks one time. Pulled it out and mounted it and there were zero issues. One drawback I notice is it seems to take all the sheen out of the hair. Never heard anyone else say that though.