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Bushcraft & Primitive Wilderness Skills The Bushcraft & Primitive Wilderness Skills forum is for discussion (on-site content) that directly relates to ancient and/or primitive style bushcraft/wilderness skills (e.g. firecraft, foraging, natural material construction, modern/primitive tools, long-term wilderness survival,...).


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  #1  
Old 12-18-2010, 11:58 AM
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beekeeper beekeeper is offline
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Tanning hide

I have a number of deerskins that have been tanned by others over the years, and I have recently read that before denim came along, buckskin was the material of choice for pants for it's durability. Denim isn't particularly durable in comparison but it is considerably cheaper. I am planning to try tanning and hope to have a few skins to work on shortly. My end goal is my own pair of buckskins. Any one else tried tanning their own hides? I picked up a great book at a leather working store and it seems easy enough, if not for the hard work of making it.
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Old 12-18-2010, 12:45 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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it's mostly a good bit of work.

and sometimes it smells a bit.

a good smoke-cured buckskin isn't actually tanned, oddly enough. traditionally speaking, anyways. there are modern methods that approximate buckskin remarkably well.

i've done it in the past, and it's rewarding as all out. definetly worth the investment of time and effort.
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  #3  
Old 12-18-2010, 12:59 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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It's been many years since I have.

In my travels this past summer, I spent some time talking with someone who does a great deal of it.

She gathers fresh road kill and then hand-processes the hides. The attached photo shows here working on a hide and wearing one too.

Reality
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  #4  
Old 12-18-2010, 07:11 PM
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beekeeper beekeeper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsuursoo
it's mostly a good bit of work.

and sometimes it smells a bit.

a good smoke-cured buckskin isn't actually tanned, oddly enough. traditionally speaking, anyways. there are modern methods that approximate buckskin remarkably well.

i've done it in the past, and it's rewarding as all out. definetly worth the investment of time and effort.

As I understand it, the smoking is just one of the steps and the last one really. Most of the real WORK is done before that step.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reality
She gathers fresh road kill and then hand-processes the hides. The attached photo shows here working on a hide and wearing one too.
Some states allow it, but Texas does not allow and part of a deer taken from road kill as I understand it

That should read "Texas does not allow any part of a roadkill deer to be taken.

Last edited by beekeeper : 12-18-2010 at 09:20 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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  #5  
Old 12-19-2010, 01:23 AM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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the smoking is the actual cure, is how it works out.

but dang near everything before is all about prepping the hide, breaking down the grain of the leather, making it supple, and removing the hair.

thankfully it doesn't involve anywhere near the unhealthy stuff that modern true tanning does.

if you can manage several hides, it's much easier to smoke them.

the cool part is, salting and rolling the hide lets it keep pretty well for a LONG time.
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  #6  
Old 12-19-2010, 12:31 PM
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richwads richwads is offline
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I learned from Steve and Tamara at primitive rendezvous I used to attend. Their book "Wet-Scrape Braintanned Buckskin" (Steve Edholm and Tamara Wilder) is excellent. Hides from my harvested deer have been made into mocassins, a fringed shirt, plains-style quiver, and various pouches and drawstring bags.

The process is basically scraping hair and epidermis off, then soaking in a brain solution to impregnate with something that separates the fibers, then stretching and working until dry (the hardest part). If it dries without being worked it will be like a big potato chip .

Once dry and supple, smoking impregnates the pores to keep subsequent wetting from resulting in a stiff hide.

I had to budget two full days to process a hide - the first day was to scrape the hair and epidermis off, which really works the shoulders and upper arms. The wet scraped hide would then be soaked in a brains solution for a few days while muscles recover, and is then wrung out and streched on a frame on a dry breezy day in the shade, and continuously poked and strecthed with a tool like a wooden paddle to keep it moving while it dries - another full day of work.

It can be smoked any time after that as long as it is kept dry - smoking for an hour or two is fine. I use a sheepherder stove with a flexible chimney to help control the smoke and keep the hide from getting cooked by flames.

There are many subtleties and hands-on instruction for the first hide is highly recommended. Then you'll need to make a scraping beam and stretching frame.

If you want to save a hide until you're ready, just nail it to a shed wall facing the sun, and scrape off all the fat while it's drying. The idea is to get the fat off so it doesn't go rancid and rot the hide. After that, do like I did and tack it to the wall of your hobby room, it might keep your wife out of there, though kids will love it .
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  #7  
Old 12-19-2010, 12:47 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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also, to work the hide(originally used in the field) you can throw it over something sturdy like a tree or whatnot, take both ends, wrap them around say... an axe handle, and then twist it up tight as you can, then a little more, then carefully let it out and go the other way, repeating as much as you think neccessary(then twice more), re-wetting when it dries out too much.

it's a lot of work, if you slip that axe handle will move pretty good for about one revolution when you have it really wound up, but it's less equipment intensive.

you'll need to shift it around some too, to make sure you get all the hide worked.
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  #8  
Old 12-19-2010, 03:11 PM
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richwads richwads is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsuursoo
also, to work the hide(originally used in the field) you can throw it over something sturdy like a tree or whatnot, take both ends, wrap them around say... an axe handle, and then twist it up tight as you can, then a little more, then carefully let it out and go the other way, repeating as much as you think neccessary(then twice more), re-wetting when it dries out too much.

The above is also a step in between soaking in brains and stretching in frame, in order to force the brain solution into the hide as much as possible while also squeezing excess moisture out, prior to stretching it in a frame (see frame below).



Tools used for working the hide dry include the modified canoe paddle on the ground and a hickory pick handle (in my hands) modified into a dull chisel shape at the working end. As the hide dries, the cords have to be adjusted to maintain a drumlike tension on the hide. I'm really leaning into it here. It's about a hour away from being dry.
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  #9  
Old 12-20-2010, 06:29 PM
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beekeeper beekeeper is offline
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I am going to be picking up 4 deer hides tomorrow to try tanning in the near future. I plan to store them in my freezer until I am ready to work my first one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reality
It's been many years since I have.

In my travels this past summer, I spent some time talking with someone who does a great deal of it.

She gathers fresh road kill and then hand-processes the hides. The attached photo shows here working on a hide and wearing one too.

Reality
I wish I could get in touch with her, as I am soon going to be trying to tan my first hide. It would be nice to get first hand advice if I need it.

Last edited by beekeeper : 12-20-2010 at 06:32 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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  #10  
Old 12-20-2010, 08:24 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beekeeper
I wish I could get in touch with her, as I am soon going to be trying to tan my first hide. It would be nice to get first hand advice if I need it.
Here name is Woniya Thibeault.

I saw Tamara Wilder that richwads mentioned (above), this summer during the same time-frame that I saw Woniya.

Reality
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