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First Time Tanning, Got Into A Bit Of A Pickle!

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by lokis333, Dec 3, 2022.

  1. Hi all,
    Very new here! I have been trying to tan two red deer stag hides (about 6ft+ tall and 3-4ft wide). After some internet research I went with the most commonly found method:
    1) Flesh
    2) Salt
    3) Wash/De-grease
    4) Stretch on a frame then 50:50 mix of borax and alum woth bit of water to make into a paste and apply four times
    5) Sand, wash and trim
    6) Loosen it up woth neetsfoot oil.

    So, I got up to stage 4 of this process, and my hides are not hardening at all, soft as from day one. The skin does not have any dark patches, hair stays on as on fresh deer (I assume one or two loose hairs here or there are normal?) I fleshed the skins as much as possible, any more and you can see the hair follicles although neck is super thick skin.
    Then I got told that I need to use some Liqui Tan (as its the only thing available where I live at the moment) and that I need to pickle the skins prior to using liqui tan.

    Can someone please tell me what to do?! :(
    Does this borax and alum tan even work?
    Very confused, determined to get it right though!
    Thank you in advance for your knowledge and help!
  2. SolarDeer

    SolarDeer Member

    I'm party here, I hope what I sent over is useful.

    The guys here should have you covered Alum "Tans" can be a bit dodgy as there not true tans by any means they work on smaller things but for something as large as a red deer I would be attempting a chemical (liqua tan) If you truly want to preserve it.

    Alum tans sweat(?) out of hides If that makes sense, Any moisture or humidity can remove the Alum and make them susceptible to mold/slip/etc.

    Pickle is the most generic thing done before any chemical tan Is a somewhat tedious process but the entire process makes the skin accept the tanning solution and make It mold and slip proof, Basically meant to live a life time.

    There's a few tanning companies in the UK although ones that accept red deer hides are few and far between, If your In England versus Scotland there's taxidermists absolutely everywhere you might be able to get an "unusual" commission for them to make a rug Instead of an actual mount.
    Frank E. Kotula and lokis333 like this.

  3. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Right now all your doing is preserving the hide. As said above there’s a lot here in the search engine that will help if your going to try yourself but it’s better to let a pro do it
    lokis333 and SolarDeer like this.