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Tanning Spirit Notes and Updates

Hide Tanning DVD: Stone Age Living Skills Video Classics Series.

      You can use the same tools for dehairing as were used for fleshing. The only exception is a different half-rounded slab that has a V-notch cut into the upper end. This helps secure the hide to the board (see the video for details). Place the board at an angle, leaning against a wall or post so you can straddle it. Pulling the blade towards you, instead of pushing away, slice the hair and epidermis off, working from the neck towards the tail.

      Remove the hide from the bucket. It will be heavy with water, so hang it over a post or rail, hair side up, to allow excess water to drip off, which will make handling it easier.

      With the neck of the hide facing you, begin pinching the neck between the wall or post and the V-cut, with the neck on the board close to the top. The rest of the hide will be hanging on the bottom side of the fleshing board. The neck is usually the hardest area from which to remove the hair and epidermis. This takes considerable downward pressure and sliding action of the blade. Remove enough hair and grain so that it can be turned around with the rest of the hide draping over the top of the board.

      Removing the epidermis requires observation of how the hide is reacting. When the hide was soaking, the skin absorbed enough water to become about four times thicker than when dry. The epidermis often appears about 1/8-inch thick and you may think you are cutting into the hide, but you are not. The blade cuts deep enough to remove the hair follicles and the hair, all in this one slicing action.

      How can one tell if the grain is coming off? There will be a distinct edge to the grain, and the color of the hide will be white. If any grain remains, one can see the hair holes where the hair was pulled out and the surface will appear shiny, or the area will be darker from the dirt which was on the hide. A word of caution: remember back at the beginning, when the hide was soaked for two days? The longer the hide is left soaking, the more dirt is soaked out, and there goes one of the easy indicators. Sometimes when the hair doesn't pull easily from the neck, I go ahead and try scraping, even though it will be much harder, but I like to keep that layer of dirt. If you didn't get all the epidermis off, the hide can be soaked in a bucket another day to swell the epidermis, and then it will scrape off quite easily.

      After the hair and epidermis have been removed, the hide is hung to dry until it looks transparent. It is advisable not to bend the hide. Bending breaks the skin fibers. At this stage, the hide can be stored as long as no moisture gets to it.

Tanning Spirit Notes and Updates

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authored by
Thomas J. Elpel
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
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Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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