Tanning fur for clothing

Huntress78

Songster
7 Years
Jul 17, 2012
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Found this post...
I have a frozen deer cape that I want to tan for my SIL. It was frozen immediately when he dressed the deer within an hour of kill. He had the 12 pt buck head professionally processed English.

I've never attempted this before, but I make soap and I'm a retired art teacher...willing to learn or attempt new projects. I use power tools and can make the stretching frame. I've sewn fur and made purses from tanned leather
Hubby is a great craftman in the shop and can help with tool fabrication.

I've checked out Knoblochs website for information and have emailed them for some information on their kits. I can order a cape tanning kit which will have the basic chemicals and instructions. They offer two kits...shown below.

Do I need to purchase tanning salt or is it the same as canning salt (no iodine)?

Does a deer cape need the deodorizer?

I have several big stainless steel pans as well as plastic containers which can be used for the different processes.

What suggestions/tips would you have for me.

These two kits are offered by Knoblochs...which would be better for a beginner...?
LIQUA TAN TANNING KIT
The industry's leading tan is now available in a kit. Fast penetrating and easy to use, this kit comes with complete instructions. It contains: 1 pt. Liqua Tan, 1 pt. Tanning Oil #1 (for softening), and 1 lb. of citric acid. You will need to purchase your own salt and baking soda. This kit will tan 2-3 deer capes or 2 back skins, depending on size. You can use Liqua Tan to tan anything from Antelope to Zebra skins.

INCLUDES
1 pint Liqua Tan
1 pint Tanning Oil #l
1 lb Citric Acid

PARA TAN TANNING KIT
The same great product that many tanneries are using is now available in kit form. The Para Tan kit provides enough product to fully tan 16 lbs. of shaved, drained skins, or approximately 3 deer capes or 2 back skins. This tan works great on either North American or African animals. It provides great stretch, a nice soft white skin, and can be used for taxidermy or rugs. The Para Tan kit can be used for both hair on and hair off tanning and comes with complete, easy to use instructions.

INCLUDES
16 oz Para Tan
1 pt Tanning Oil #l (for softening)
16 oz Citric Acid

Canning salt will work fine for one hide. If you have access to mixing salt used for cattle it will work also....just be sure it is just salt with no extra minerals mixed in.

I've never used a deodorizer on deer. You will need to degrease the hide anyway so order Kemal-4 from Knobloch's. It's a detergent type degreaser/cleaner so it will also clean the hide and remove odors.

Salt and acid could damage your metal pans. Use a good quality storage tote...the softer ones work best. The stiff/hard plastic ones may crack when you try to pour the water out. Get one large enough to give the hide plenty of room to soak so it's not crowded.

Deer hides are thick and need to be thinned for the chemicals to penetrate properly and so you can break (soften) the hide. I think a skife knife with disposable blades is much easier to use than a regular knife for this job.

Taxidermy/tanning can be a dangerous job. Be sure to avoid splashing the acid bath...wear eye protection, long sleeves and gloves made for use with chemicals. Take care with knives and sharp skife blades.

I've never used either of these 'kits' so can't recommend one over the other. Liqua Tan has been around for a long time and many use it but if all the steps are done properly the Para Tan will probably work just as well.
 

NanaKat

Crossing the Road
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Thank you so much for those tips. I have those gloves and the storage totes.
The folks at Knoblochs suggested using the Para tan kit. He gave instructions for thawing and salting the hide for four days.
I'll be out of town for two weeks and will post when I begin the project.
 

NanaKat

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Okay, I have thawed and fleshed the deer cape....took me 2.5 hours for this first fur on hide. If and when I work any other hides, I will flesh them before freezing! I've been told it is much easier to remove the flesh when the hide is fresh. As it was, there was a half gallon bucket of fat, muscle and flesh removed.
The length of the hide is actually the top of the neck to and including the tail and the width from front leg, part of the belly and the hams(hips) on the back legs...it's larger than I remembered going into the freezer!!!

I ordered a book: The Ultimate Guide To Skinning and Tanning: A Complete Guide to Working with Pelts, Fur, and Leather by Monte Burch off Amazon and read the entire book. It even has steps for tanning snake skins...may have to try when I catch the one stealing my eggs!

I had ordered a fleshing knife, but had some difficulties getting the hang of using it...may need to sharpen it more. I ended up using a couple of sharp paring knives with my whet stone handy to keep it sharp and a pair of surgical scissors to remove the flesh at the edges. It was easier than it sounds.

Instead of a beam set up, I made a fleshing board by cutting a half circle on the end of a four foot 1"X 6" board that had a bow in it, then sanded and beveled the edges. I notched the other end and set it in a cinder block with wood wedges to secure it...that worked nicely to drape and hold the hide for fleshing.

I salted the hide with canning salt to remove moisture and changed the salt today. Total of three full days with salt.

The supplies have arrived from Knoblochs today and the hide will be rinsed, rehydrated and placed in the pickle.

I will use the Skife knife after the hide has been in the pickle for 24 hours and then return it to the pickle...advice from Knoblochs..to help keep the fur from slipping.

I'll take some pictures to post in the morning.
 
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NanaKat

Crossing the Road
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A few photos ...of my adventure in tanning.

Rinsed the salt from the hide and soaked it in a bucket with 1/4 pound of salt per gallon of water for the morning to help rehydrate the pelt.
then rinsed several times again and soaked for an hour in water with Borax and a tbs of Dawn to degrease and soften the hide.
Cannot tell you how many ticks were removed from the hide in the rinsing process, but there will be many more when I comb the coat before oiling!I used the top bucket with several gallons of water to weight the hide down in the Borax and Dawn.



This is the hide after the "wash and degrease. Split tail on left and neck on the right. The white hair glistens nicely and will make a nice outline on the pelt.


The skin side left and right...I will have a job ahead finishing fleshing the hide after the first 24 hours in the pickle of Citric acid and salt. There is a lot of membrane that needs to be removed. Knoblochs suggests to flesh and thin the skin and return it to the pickle for 48 hours or longer before tanning.
The small hole in the center of left photo is the bullet hole and the other two holes were where I cut thru the belly hide....will stitch those closed with waxed thread before tanning. The right side has no holes.....yet.


The hide is now in the pickle in our bonus room where I can control the temperature better and can stir the hide in the solution to make sure there is full coverage for the pickle.
 
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Huntress78

Songster
7 Years
Jul 17, 2012
512
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161
NE Wisconsin
Now you can relax a bit and take your time thinning the hide with the skife. Just be sure to return the hide to the pickle solution after each thinning session and be sure there's enough solution in the bucket to 'float' the hide.
 

NanaKat

Crossing the Road
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I have five gallons of solution in the barrel and can stir and lift the hide then push it back under.
PH is staying at 1-2...litmus tape is a bright red.
I'm stirring it every three to four hours.
I probably should have weighed it right after washing off the salt layers and rehydrating. Will do that when I start thinning it. Then I can mix more pickle if needed.
This is the plastic barrel.


Should I rinse the hide before thinning it or can I work with it right out of the pickle barrel? I'm thinking citric acid is the same as Fruit Fresh......
 
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Huntress78

Songster
7 Years
Jul 17, 2012
512
55
161
NE Wisconsin
It might be the same ingredient as Fruit Fresh but more concentrated. I would not rinse but make sure you are wearing gloves, goggles, etc.
 

NanaKat

Crossing the Road
Premium member
11 Years
Feb 28, 2009
8,762
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Meeker, Ok 20+chicken years
It might be the same ingredient as Fruit Fresh but more concentrated. I would not rinse but make sure you are wearing gloves, goggles, etc.
Thank you!!! Will do. I'm going to try using the fleshing knife a little too for practice.
I had to adjust the PH a little...it had bumped to 2.5.
 
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NanaKat

Crossing the Road
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11 Years
Feb 28, 2009
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Meeker, Ok 20+chicken years
Hide update: after the 4 day pickling process, the hide was rinsed and neutralized in a solution with salt and soda for an hour. Then rinsed again and soaked in the tanning solution for 24 hours.

It has now been rinsed again and is sitting in a Basification (neutralization) bath of soda water for 4 hours.
Tonight, the hide will be laid out to drain and begin drying. I have two holes I will repair with waxed thread.


Tomorrow the hide will be oiled and allowed to soak up the tanning oil.
Then when about 50% dry, I can begin the breaking (softening) process by rubbing and stretching the hide to separate the skin fibers to make the hide supple. Don't know how long that will take. Whew!


After that, I can skife off some the uneven sections making the leather back more equal in thickness. May use my dremel to suede the back.
Don't know yet if the Sil will hang it, drape it...etc. We have some lovely cedar limbs that would make a nice stretching frame for display..will discuss that with him and the daughter.


I will have to post some pictures when the hide is finished.

here it is drying for the night...draped over a hoe handle across the chair to the deck railing and across the table.
 
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