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Tanning Spirit Notes and Updates

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

      Option (1) After the hide is fleshed, it is easy to continue working a fresh hide. Place the hide in a container; a 5-gallon plastic bucket will usually handle the largest deer hide. Add enough water to cover the hide. Don't use hot water. Another word of caution: Don't use city water that is treated with chlorine, as it makes the hide very hard to dehair and work, if not impossible.

      Set the bucket where it is a room temperature, and for the next couple days periodically "punch" the hide down with a stick, turning it over. Make sure that the hair side is to the top and not flesh side, because the skin will dry out, whereas the hair retains moisture.

      Option (2) Working with a hide that was previously air dried. Since the hide is flat and can't be put into the bucket, I attach a rope to it and sink it in a creek or lake for a day, which will make it pliable. It is very important at this stage to flesh the hide again to break up the fascia or membrane so the hide will soak up the water better. Then put it into the bucket and proceed as if it were a fresh hide.

New Notes on Soaking

      Remove rolled, salted hide from the airtight contonier, unroll and shake the hide to remove any salt that will come off. Two options: First, if the hide is moist enough to scrape the salt off, I will do that then put the hide into a 35 gallon plastic barrel that has 20-25 gallons of fresh water. Periodically, over the next three days, stir the hide, leaving the hair side up, and put a lid on it. The longer that a hide rehydrates, the easier it will be to remove the grain. There are times I leave it four days, and the hair is beginning to slip before I move it to the next step of bucking.

      Option two: if the hide has dried, even with the salt, just shake to remove excess salt, then place it into the 35 gallon barrel with 20-25 gallons of fresh water. Let hide soak for 24 hours and remove from the barrel and let it drain for a few minutes, then reflesh the hide. This second fleshing is done with the fleshing beam upwards, as for graining the hide. This second fleshing will break up the fascia and aid in the obsorption of the water. If finding good, nonclorinated water is an issue, place the hide back into the same water for another two days. If there is plenty of water available then I will dump the first soak water and replace it with fresh water.

      As far as chlorinated water goes, it is only a problem if you are trying to culture bacteria to loosen the hair and swell the grain without resorting to chemicals to buck the hide.

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      Looking for life-changing resources? Check out these books by Thomas J. Elpel:

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