Learning to tan small hides can be a very rewarding hobby, but keep in mind that tanning can also be a very time-consuming and tedious hobby. And once your neighbors find out that you can tan, they will leave you with endless requests for tanned pelts and hides.
A pelt is a hide with fur left on. When tanning pelts, you must be careful to not let the pelt stay wet for too long or the fur will fall off. In fact, the easiest way I have found to remove the fur is to soak it in salted water for a few days, then scrape the fur off. If you are planning to leave the fur on the hide, there will always be some amount of fur loss no matter how careful you are.
Tanning is a process that transforms raw animal hides into a durable and long-lasting material that can be used for a variety of purposes, including clothing, accessories, and upholstery. Small hides, such as those from rabbits, squirrels, and other small game, can be particularly challenging to tan properly, as they are delicate and require a specialized approach. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover all the essential steps you need to take to achieve a successful and high-quality tan on small hides.
Step 1: Preparation
The first step in tanning small hides is preparation. Before you begin, you will need to gather the following tools and materials:
- Hides (cleaned and fleshed)
- Tanning agent (such as alum, tannin, or brain-tanning solution)
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mixing bowls
- A large container for soaking the hides
- A work surface for preparing the hides
- Clean water
Next, you will need to properly clean and flesh the hides to ensure a smooth and even tan. To do this, you can use a sharp knife to remove any remaining fat and flesh from the hide, being careful not to cut too deeply and damage the hide. You may also need to scrape the hide with a dull tool to remove any remaining residue.
Step 2: Soaking
Once your hides are prepared, it’s time to soak them in a solution of salt and water. The ratio of salt to water will vary depending on the size of your hides and the type of tanning agent you are using, so be sure to follow the instructions provided by your tanning agent.
Soak the hides in the salt and water solution for 24-48 hours, depending on the size of the hides and the thickness of the hide. Be sure to stir the solution occasionally to ensure that the hides are evenly saturated.
Step 3: Tanning
After the hides have soaked for the recommended amount of time, it’s time to add the tanning agent. The exact method for adding the tanning agent will vary depending on the type of agent you are using, so be sure to follow the instructions provided by your tanning agent.
Once the tanning agent has been added, stir the solution to ensure that the hides are evenly coated. Allow the hides to soak in the tanning solution for the recommended amount of time, usually 24-48 hours.
Step 4: Rinsing and Drying
After the tanning process is complete, it’s time to rinse and dry the hides. To rinse the hides, drain the tanning solution and rinse the hides thoroughly with clean water. Once the hides are rinsed, lay them flat on a clean surface and allow them to air-dry completely.
Step 5: Finishing
The final step in tanning small hides is finishing. To finish the hides, you may need to apply a conditioner or oil to soften and preserve the hides. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by your tanning agent for the best results.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about tanning small hides.
Q: What type of hides are best for tanning?
A: Small hides, such as those from rabbits, squirrels, and other small game, are ideal for tanning as they are delicate and require a specialized approach. Larger hides, such as those from deer or cows, can also be tanned, but they require a different process and often result in a different type of leather.
Q: Can I tan a hide at home?
A: Yes, it is possible to tan a hide at home with the right tools, materials, and techniques. However, it is important to note that the process can be time-consuming and requires a great deal of patience and attention to detail.
Q: What type of tanning agent should I use for small hides?
A: There are several different types of tanning agents that can be used for small hides, including alum, tannin, and brain-tanning solutions. The type of tanning agent you use will depend on your personal preferences, the type of hide you are tanning, and the end use of the hide.
Q: What are the benefits of tanning my own hides?
A: Tanning your own hides allows you to create a unique and high-quality material that can be used for a variety of purposes, including clothing, accessories, and upholstery. Tanning also allows you to have control over the process and ensure that the hide is treated in a sustainable and ethical manner.
Q: How long does it take to tan a small hide?
A: The exact time it takes to tan a small hide will vary depending on several factors, including the size of the hide, the type of tanning agent used, and the technique used. However, in general, the process can take anywhere from 24-48 hours or longer.
Tanning small hides is a time-consuming and delicate process, but with proper preparation, patience, and attention to detail, you can achieve a high-quality and long-lasting tan. Whether you are an experienced tanner or a beginner, this guide will provide you with the essential steps you need to take to achieve a successful and beautiful tan on your small hides.