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TOPIC: Tanning hides

Tanning hides 17 Dec 2008 15:17 #16124

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I know this question comes occasionally (mainly because at one stage I asked it!! :D :D ) but for those that do wonder I finally have decided to give this a go.[8D]

I purchased a Leders tanning kit from the local hunting and fishing shop [8] and chopped the top off a 210l blue plastic drum.[8][8][8]

The pelt/skin/whatever you call it is now 'soaking in it'.[:I][:I][:I] I shall keep you all informed of how it turns out (good, bad, otherwise) and if it turns out OK then I may just attempt the cattle hide I have in the freezer. Seems like a reasonably straight forward process,:):):), (there can't be too many ways to stuff it up, can there:confused::confused::confused:).

Dunno how the cattle pelt is going to fit in the washing machine tho but I guess I'll stuff it in there somehow[B)]......... Wonder if commercial washing machine people would mind a maggoty bloody fleshy pelt in there machines??!???!?

Anyways, I'll keep ya's all posted.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]Nah, just shoot it.......
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Tanning hides 18 Dec 2008 08:03 #243322

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Hee hee hee, still soaking, this might take a while.......... :D :D :D
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Tanning hides 18 Dec 2008 08:58 #243327

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good luck :D
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Tanning hides 18 Dec 2008 08:58 #243328

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What are you 'doing' currently, DrVee?

Please keep us updated, as I'm interested in the results!
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Tanning hides 18 Dec 2008 16:18 #243391

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Hi there everyone
I purchased my tanning kit off Trademe and have done 3 sheep skins so far.
We got our skins fresh from our own sheep and salted them straight away,
Then came the back braking work of cleaning the dried membrane off. [}:)] After doing the soaking and the resoaking and yet more soaking, (about a week) I semi dried it and then oiled it and worked it to get a really nice sheepskin.:)
I would recommend this to anyone, its really cool having your own warm rugs in the winter. 2 big things I found were - dont do it in the winter, [xx(] the skin wont dry (unless you live in Auckland) and try to get all the fat off, or the rats in the barn will love you when you come to drying time.

Have fun - let us know how it comes out
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Tanning hides 18 Dec 2008 21:33 #243451

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Prim - I'm 'watching' my cauldron of green liquid and giving it a stir occasionally. I have no idea how I will know it's 'done' but I'm guessing I'll 'know' when it is. All a rather new experience here. Dunno even if I'm supposed to stir it occasionally but it seems like a good thing to do, disrupting airbubbles and all that, even soakage/coverage...... I keep hoiking a bit out and peering at it to see if it's 'done' but it doesn't look any different. Wondering at the same time what chemicals are in the mix as I stick my hands in the 'cauldron of green'. Packet doesn't exactly scream 'poison' tho so I guess it's not too toxic, unless you soak yourself in it for a week or so......... you'll come out like leather haa haa haa :D

SO, still waiting...........

Keep saying to myself to leave the damn thing alone for a week then go and look it but as I've got the cauldron by my back door I pass it every time I go in or out (10 times a day) so I keep having a peek. Very impatient person here. What happens if I leave it in for too long? Can it be 'overdone'?? How will I know when it's 'done'? What do I do with the solution afterwards - disposal wise? Can I re-use it for the next hide? What if I 'under-cook' it? Soo many questions........... Meanwhile, I'll just keep peering in the cauldren and stirring it occasionally[;)]
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]Nah, just shoot it.......
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Tanning hides 19 Dec 2008 08:09 #243489

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Been past it 4 times already today and it's still the same[:0][:0]........... Gave it a stir just in case things had changed but alas, no, no change.........:(:(

Masha1 - which 'brand' kit did you use?
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Tanning hides 19 Dec 2008 10:57 #243514

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did you read the instructions? Tanning solutions should generally be stirred at least twice a day, on the way out in the morning and on the way back in in the afternoon works out well for townies, at least Farmers have a bit more flexibility as to where they will be when on the property :D

I'm not sure about the leders kit readiness signs, but slicing through the skin at an edge gives a small sample, with Vegetable tanning (Oak bark, pine bark, acacia bark) using natural tannic acids from trees the skin changes colour as the solution penetrates. Once the skins innards are evenly browned through with no white spot in the centre the skin is done, so leave it for half again the time to ensure thicker spots than your sample space are done, and bring it out to dry. Using the salt and battery acid tan for rabbit hides, the skin is done when a quick boil doesn't make the sample slice curl and go rubbery.
Leders is a chromium salts tan however, so I'm not sure what their done test is.
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Tanning hides 19 Dec 2008 13:25 #243534

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Thanks for that Kiwi 303. Yep, did read the destructions (I am female, after all.....) and nope they didn't say to stir. And I just rechecked the destructions, and it definitely does not say to stir, not on the box nor on the bottles of potion.
I thought about slicing a bit off as you (or someone) has mentioned in previous threads and checking that way, Ohh I'm smart I just rang the shop that sold it to me and they answered all my questions - solution is biodegradable so pour it down the drain, and slice the edge - will have a blue tinge all the way thru. Not possible to 'overcook' it. Awesome. Now just the wait.......
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]Nah, just shoot it.......
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Tanning hides 19 Dec 2008 13:33 #243538

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masha1, we will be homekillng our lambs on Saturday. I've always wondered what to do to home tan myself some lovely lambskins. What do you mean about the salt ? I did make some enquiries ages ago to a couple of tanneries, but they don't do one offs for lifestylers like me. Would love to have a go myself.
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Tanning hides 19 Dec 2008 14:26 #243550

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mhddp: Immediately after skinning, sprinkle copious amounts of salt over the fleshy side of the pelt. Fold in half (flesh to flesh) then roll up. Unroll and repeat the next day. Meanwhile, get yourself a tanning kit from a hunting/fishing shop and follow the instructions/destructions. Easy as. Just takes time. Gone past another 6 times since this am giving it a poke and a prod and a stir each time. No change........ Still, I only started this exercise on tuesday. :D
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Tanning hides 19 Dec 2008 21:13 #243592

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What animal's pelt are you working with, DrVee? Sounds like the smaller the easier :)
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Tanning hides 20 Dec 2008 07:05 #243620

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Is this a chemical or veg tan solution? Just interested.
"Normality is not something to aspire to"
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Tanning hides 20 Dec 2008 16:55 #243718

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Prim - it's the hogget I'm busy munching thru at the moment.

TraceyA - I assume it's chemical. It's the commercially available 'Leder Utility Tanning Kit'

And although I've walked passed it several times already today I've managed to only look at it once.......
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Tanning hides 20 Dec 2008 22:24 #243743

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yup, it's chemical, Chromium salts actually. not good for making things like sheaths or such which will be in contact with metals, the ionic salts used will discolour the metals and stain the leather.

pine bark and acacia bark do a nice veg tan, I've used them on kidskins and got a nice even dark brown tanned skin.
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Tanning hides 20 Dec 2008 22:37 #243745

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Ooh it's changed!!!! :) :) :) :) :)

The skin is now a greenish tinge all over, and when I slice a wee bit off an edge the green tinge has gone all the way thru. On Kiwi 303's advice I'm gonna leave it for half the time again to ensure the chemical is all the way thru the thicker bits but hopefully it will be done enough for me to take home next tuesday to finish while I'm at the old folk's for xmas........ [;)][;)][;)]

Kiwi303 - thanks for 'looking over my shoulder' thru this experience you've answered many questions before they arose and your advice given both in this thread and in past threads on the same subject has been awesome. Thanks[^]
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]Nah, just shoot it.......
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Tanning hides 21 Dec 2008 07:54 #243754

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when i priced the tanning solution it was $70 for the kit...

how many skins can you do with it.

I have 4 lambs to do later in the year and would hate to have spend that on each.

My last attempt at "curing" a skin was with baking soda and kerosene, but after a week of this I couldn't get the kero smell out so washed it in the machine at 5am away from wifeys eyes ;)

Now I just have a raw hide on the floor....thick and hard like cardboard.

Is it possible to still tan this one again properly?
Eddie
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Tanning hides 21 Dec 2008 12:51 #243783

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Edster, yip, I paid $65.80 for the kit. And the one I spied on TM was $60 or $70. Dunno what a ready made lamb pelt costs tho from a shop? Probably more than that?

I know Hardly Normal sell cattle pelt floor rugs for $999 down here so the $600 ones on TM are cheep. So the way I look at it if if costs me $3-400 to cure my cattle hide in chemicals, it's still a damn cheap rug and I have photos of it out in the paddock in it's natural state............

You can buy the tanning formula in larger containers which works out cheaper per litre of solution, and I could have saved myself $5 by buying the formula and the lube separately, but I wouldn't have got the knife in the kit. (which wasn't worth the extra $5 anyway......). I've got another pelt in the freezer (I think) so I might pull that out and throw it in the cauldron straight after this one to see if it works.

Yip, that's what put me off doing the kero/baking soda method, the stink of kero and the fact that if it ever got wet it was back to a raw skin, I *think* you can rewash dry skins and bung them in the tanning formula, from what I've read the purpose of the salt is to 'dry' the skin before tanning, and then you can store them 'dry' for however long it takes until you tan them.

Kiwi303 has posted the traditional tanning method using natural tannins/bark which I'd like to give a go, as soon as I can get some of the appropriate bark, and a metal drum that doesn't leak, and a way of cooking the concoction.

I also had a small fit re the thought of putting the raw hide thru the washing machine, but then someone (probably Kiwi303) mentioned it's no different to putting dirty bloody overalls thru, so I just did it. And the washing machine lived just fine. As did the pelt. And me. :)

And back to my hide - no change from yesterday!!:cool:
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Tanning hides 21 Dec 2008 13:25 #243787

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DrVee;221204 wrote:

Kiwi303 has posted the traditional tanning method using natural tannins/bark which I'd like to give a go, as soon as I can get some of the appropriate bark, and a metal drum that doesn't leak, and a way of cooking the concoction.
It's easy enough :D equal weights salted hides and dried bark :D a handful of salt, simmer, strain and add skin.

Don't use an iron drum unless it has an enameled lining, tannic acid causes Chelated iron deposits, which is in fact how black leather is formed. Dissolve iron filings or grinding dust in vinegar or other mild acid, dump in a wet hide straight out of the tannin solution and the tannins that are not already bound to the hides collagen will bind to the iron particles and form a lasting black dye that is part of the hide and won't wash out :D
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Tanning hides 22 Dec 2008 14:31 #243865

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I too are following this thread closely, just killed a big lamb this morning with a good fleece and have salted it (about a cup of table salt rubbed in is that OK?) I'm waiting for a courier to deliver a Leders tanning kit I have bought for $60. I haven't done anything about all the blood around the neck wool yet is that OK? and the rest of the other wool is mildly grubby..........does all this get cleaned later in the process?
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Tanning hides 22 Dec 2008 17:27 #243882

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the reason to wash the blood off is the blood in the skin causes discolouration, it's worse with vege tanning, but not good by any method. You need to wash the skin BEFORE starting the tan. Grab it and fill a tub or something with cold water and washing powder then hand scrub the skin and fleece thoroughly in that to wash the grease and lanolin off the wool side and the blood out of the skin side. Squeeze (never wring) dry the skin and on a dry surface spread it out skin side up, cover the entire skin side with salt thickly enough that the whole skin is covered with a layer, it should look like one of those sugar topped biscuits :D you can either greenskin it dry to rawhide stretched out on a frame, or simpler by far, just fold it skin to skin in half and then fold again. Set up a flat board at about 15 to 30 degrees slope and place the folded skin on that with the corner with the 4 free ends downwards and the corner with the 2 folds upwards, place another board on top and some sort of weight.
Either method, in about 24 hours scrape the old salt off and re-apply, you can dry the salt somewhere sunny and hot or in a hot water cupboard with a dehumidifier to re-use for a later application. The salt is there to draw out the moisture from the skin. once the skin is stiff and dry like saddle leather but not crackly it is dry enough, leave that coat of salt on and store somewhere dry and out of sunlight. I had a dekko at a Leders kit ($59.99) in Nelson Hunting and Fishing today, the back said for approx 6 Kg of skins. So make it up pro-rata, if it's for a 3Kg salted skin, make up half of the kit, etc or find another 3Kg skin. You'd need to read the instruction sheet to see if that is 6Kg of skin fresh off the beast or salted green skins, it's probably fresh skin seeing as the leders market is amateurs who probably whip the skin off the beast and into the mix.

this is a goat skin I've had sitting in a battery acid and salt solution since autumn, I never managed to get around to actually doing anything to it so yesterday I set to and rinsed it out and strung it up to dry. Now I have to keep the flaming dogs away!, last time I had a skin framed up my sister let the dogs loose off their chains for a run and they ate half the skin! So much for tanning that one :(
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Tanning hides 22 Dec 2008 17:27 #243883

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the reason to wash the blood off is the blood in the skin causes discolouration, it's worse with vege tanning, but not good by any method. You need to wash the skin BEFORE starting the tan. Grab it and fill a tub or something with cold water and washing powder then hand scrub the skin and fleece thoroughly in that to wash the grease and lanolin off the wool side and the blood out of the skin side. Squeeze (never wring) dry the skin and on a dry surface spread it out skin side up, cover the entire skin side with salt thickly enough that the whole skin is covered with a layer, it should look like one of those sugar topped biscuits :D you can either greenskin it dry to rawhide stretched out on a frame, or simpler by far, just fold it skin to skin in half and then fold again. Set up a flat board at about 15 to 30 degrees slope and place the folded skin on that with the corner with the 4 free ends downwards and the corner with the 2 folds upwards, place another board on top and some sort of weight.
Either method, in about 24 hours scrape the old salt off and re-apply, you can dry the salt somewhere sunny and hot or in a hot water cupboard with a dehumidifier to re-use for a later application. The salt is there to draw out the moisture from the skin. once the skin is stiff and dry like saddle leather but not crackly it is dry enough, leave that coat of salt on and store somewhere dry and out of sunlight. I had a dekko at a Leders kit ($59.99) in Nelson Hunting and Fishing today, the back said for approx 6 Kg of skins. So make it up pro-rata, if it's for a 3Kg salted skin, make up half of the kit, etc or find another 3Kg skin. You'd need to read the instruction sheet to see if that is 6Kg of skin fresh off the beast or salted green skins, it's probably fresh skin seeing as the leders market is amateurs who probably whip the skin off the beast and into the mix.

this is a goat skin I've had sitting in a battery acid and salt solution since autumn, I never managed to get around to actually doing anything to it so yesterday I set to and rinsed it out and strung it up to dry. Now I have to keep the flaming dogs away!, last time I had a skin framed up my sister let the dogs loose off their chains for a run and they ate half the skin! So much for tanning that one :(
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Tanning hides 22 Dec 2008 22:47 #243917

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Kiwi303 I haven't got my kit yet (tomorrow) so have only been following others instructions on here, are you saying the first thing to do is wash it before salting it, another words wash the salt off I have already put on and then "salt it" after cleaning............sorry about this but I needed to get started right away as I had already killed the lamb and if I was going to do anything I had to get cracking!
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Tanning hides 22 Dec 2008 23:33 #243921

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yep, it needs to be cleaned before tanning, otherwise the blood still in the skins veins and capillaries will be changed by the tanning process into an ineradicable tracery of discolourations.

If there are plans to use a skin, the wisest course is to have a bucket of cold water standing ready and once the skin is off, plunge it into that to cool and soak as you deal with the rest of the beast. If kept cool and wet a skin can wait for a day or so with no problems until you have time to deal to it. Then you can just add washing powder, wash the skin and proceed to trim, flense and salt the skin for further work.

If it has been kept cool since the morning, there shouldn't be any problems. Like with hanging a beast in a chiller, the idea of cooling the skin is to lower the temperature quickly to below where the bacteria will be active, and that gives a head start on the bacteria so you can start salting, which removes the moisture the bacteria need to proliferate, and changes the salinity of the skin to a level the bacteria are less able to tolerate. This means the bacteria remain inactive and stops the skin going off or the hair slipping, both signs of rot.

When you read this in the morning, just scrape the salt off and set it aside to dry and re-use, then wash the skin in a tub of soapy water or the washing machine, and restart the salting with a clean skin.

Especially with sheep and lambskins, grease and oils on a skin will hinder the penetration of the tanning solution from the skin side, as fat does from the flesh side. A clean starting point ensures a simpler and less fraught progression to the final product. :D
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Tanning hides 23 Dec 2008 08:19 #243934

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OK so the blue stuff has soaked all the way thru the hide and I chucked in back in the washing machine last night to rinse (wool wash [;)]). It's been hanging on the line overnight to partially dry and tonight I'll start working the leather with the conditioner stuff. Only concern at this stage is the leather is now blue, which is visible thru the thinner bits of the fleece. Weather these thinner edge bits will be eventually cut off or not I'm not sure I guess we will just see how it goes.

Kiwi303 - will a standard 44 gallon drum work OK for your 'veg' tanning method? (or will that have too much iron in it? Guess I'll find out once I chop the top off one......) You mentioned that you get a brown staining thru the leather with the bark (or black with iron), and I'm not sure if I read correctly the wool stains too with your method? Can you advise? Will just a (small) open fire under the drum be enough to heat it? And will macro and willow bark be OK? I have a fair bit of that around, or does it have to be a specific bark? Thanks awesomly. :)
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Tanning hides 23 Dec 2008 10:57 #243969

I am thinking of doing this for one of our steers. What would the average weight of the hide be from a 500kg steer? I would assume more than 6kg so would need a bigger kit.

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Tanning hides 23 Dec 2008 10:59 #243970

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That depends on what the drum last held :D most chemical drums are coated inside with a clear enamel to stop them from rusting due to condensation, or being etched through if the contents are acidic, however some drums are left plain inside if the contents are harmless to iron (oils and such) being non-acidic/alkaline and not containing any water etc.

As to heating them, a small fire is perfectly fine, you want the temperature to be such as you can barely manage to keep your hand in the water, no hotter. Too high a temp when simmering the bark will break down the tannic acids to different, useless, compounds.

As to the macro... well a little google says that redwoods (sequoia) have plentiful tannic acid, and they are members of the cupressae (Cypress) family as well. Some more googling shows white willow (Salix Alba) has plentiful tannic acid, but no data on other members of the willow family which suggests they are too low, so don't use weeping willow or others. A little further looking under a few different search terms reinforces that macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) has suitable tannic acid supply to tan with.

I would suggest you try with only Macrocarpa bark first. Strip the younger flexible bark off fresh cut branches, and if using the old hard bark, shave the fibrous inner bark off the hard outer bark and discard the hard outer bits. dry in the shade and then weight out weight-for-weight with the dry salted hide and simmer for a while to obtain a rich brown tea. Strain out and put the fire go out, then immerse the hide. Swish around twice a day or whenever you go past. After a week when the tannic acid in the water ought to have been absorbed within the hide, make up some more tanning tea and add that to the drum. keep checking penetration. Bullock hides can take months :P sheep and lambs should be ready sooner.
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Tanning hides 23 Dec 2008 11:21 #243977

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I have just picked up my Leders tanning kit, very sparse instructions for us novices who would be lost without the expertise of Kiwi303 and the likes. Can I ask again is table salt OK to use or do I have to use "Chromium Salts?". My damp hide weighs 6kgs so I'm going to have to use the whole lot of mixture when I thought I might get 2 hides done, with 2kgs of salt to be bought as well it is going to be quite expensive so I surely don't want to stuff it up!

PS.....what is the point of salting if I'm going to put it in the tanning solution straight after I have cleaned the skin and wool?
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Tanning hides 23 Dec 2008 11:28 #243978

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Rod Brown;221424 wrote: with 2kgs of salt to be bought as well it is going to be quite expensive so I surely don't want to stuff it up!

The Supermarket that stocks the "Home brand" stuff, has 2kg bags of salt for $1.39 per bag, so not going to break the bank there. The rural supply stores also have it in 25kg bags for about $12.
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Tanning hides 23 Dec 2008 12:30 #243987

Hi Rod, is that 6kg a cow hide? I am looking at tanning a cow hide next year but wouldn't the foggiest how heavy they are.
Glenn
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Tanning hides 23 Dec 2008 13:52 #243997

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No skyline glenn it's a lamb with about 80-90mm of wool length which was damp when weighed (as per instructions). At a guess I'd say a cow hide would weigh 20kgs!!!. Got that Supermarket salt thanks ronnie.

Can I answer an earlier question of mine..............I have just started scraping off the membrane on the skin and "man" this is going to take days, so is the salt to keep it preserved over the days you are scraping?.............is it easier to scrape a dry hide or damp one?
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Tanning hides 23 Dec 2008 16:30 #244004

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The salting is to dry and protect the skin from detoriation during storage, it also helps with removing the membrane as when the skin is dry you can sand (carefully) the membrane off the skin side with either pumice or sandpaper or sandstone. When the skin is still wet, the salt retards decay.

It also changes the salinity of the skin which makes it easier to tan, and provides a more even tan. on a tanning site I used to frequent, there was a post by a tanner who had just done two skins, one had been salted and stored dry in the shed for 3 years, the other was a fresh hide that had just been slated and cleaned. The stored skin provided a easier to tan, more supple and more even tan than the fresh hide.

Table Salt is fine. I just use the standard 2Kg bags from Pack n Slave that are white with red and blue writing/circles on them, $1.50 a bag I think. The Chromium Salts mentioned are the tanning agents in a chrome based tanning solution like Leders. Potassium Dichromate and similiar, the Chromium attaches to the collagen of the skins and artificially preserves it, turning skin into leather. Same result as Tannic acids attaching to the collagen and changing it, just a different (non-natural) chemical.

You can wash the skin, scrape the flesh side clean and add it to the leders solution direct without ever having salt go near it, I'm just more of a traditionalist and prefer to dry the skins to a salted green skin state before doing the tan. I also have never used a chormium salts commercial solution myself and when using a vege tanning solution, if you don't add salt the tannic acids can eat at the skin and cause it to disintegrate before they change sufficient skin collagen to leather form. The salt buffers the acids and helps prevent damage from a too-strong solution of tannic acids.

Back to the question that was asked about vegetanning discolouring white furs/wools... I have done white before via vege tanning, the white bellys on alpine kids, and white bits on ferals, and while they may have a slight beige taint when wet, it's not particularly noticeable once they have been rinsed, worked and dried.
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Tanning hides 27 Dec 2008 16:18 #244374

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Hmm ok well it worked but it's not the result I wanted. The blue cromium solution has 'stained' the leather 'blue' (i'll post a picture of it when I get back home to my computer) and the wool feel's 'greasy' so I'm not sure I washed it enough beforehand? The leather itself is quite hard and dry. (Not enough 'working' it?) The blue 'stain' is visible thru the wooly side of the fleece. Still, it's only my first and there's plenty more sheep out there.......
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Tanning hides 27 Dec 2008 20:16 #244394

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holidaying in nelson? why not take a daytrip drive out here to the nelson lakes and have a look at mine :D

Some times face to face is better than over the 'net :)

Hard and dry sounds like insufficient working while damp, it should be stretched and the skin fibres "broken" while drying. I also have some neatsfoot oil here as well to oil it up for better flexibility too, just like with horse tack :D
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Tanning hides 28 Dec 2008 19:08 #244471

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Hay Kiwi a visit may not be a silly idea, then you can show me how to do it and what I've done wrong. Would love an excuse to leave the olds, mother is driving me crazy again............

I'll PM you and if you're around tomorrow let me know, I'd be up for a wee drive.

Verona.
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Tanning hides 28 Dec 2008 19:24 #244474

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PM sent, I see the green light is still on under your name :D hope you get it before you sign off :P
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Tanning hides 28 Dec 2008 21:45 #244508

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Gidday

Well I haven't done any tanning for over a decade and had always used the Chromium tanning kits. It sounds like they have become bloody expensive these days. I have a big kit for cattle hides that I bought more than a dozen years ago and am planning on using it soon.

Bit bloody slow Eh!

I have saved up about 2 or 3 dozen sheep skins, all salted down over a few years but am now waiting to get the power down to my shed before I start.

It also looks like those kits have not only gotten expensive but they sound like they now lack good instructions. You people are really lucky that you have Kiwi on here to talk you through things. One question that seems to have cropped up a lot is how to tell when the hide is tanned. I remember the old instruction used to tell you, when cutting a thin strip of the hide off to check, always tak the cut from the neck as that is where the skin is thickest.
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Tanning hides 29 Dec 2008 21:31 #244604

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Gidday

Hey Kiwi, I know I am getting old and forgetful and thick. Can you please run through how to prepare the bark for a natural tanning. I have read it on here once but buggered ifin I can find it again.

Sorry about that.
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Tanning hides 29 Dec 2008 22:42 #244619

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Thats alright.

It's pretty simple. what you want is the bark with the most tannins, fairly new growth, off the branches, small twigs, things like that. It's better to lop off some branches and strip the bark off than it is to take chunks off the trunk... especially given the effort many on here take to stop their cattle doing exactly that :D If you do use the older trunk bark, you only want the fibrous inner bark, not tha hoary old solid outer plateed bark.

To prepare, chop it up into small chips, or grind it up, an easy way is to waterblast the underside of your lawn mower and clean the bag out, spread the bark strips onto concrete and mow them up into the bag. Then spread it out on a smooth surface (makes it easier to sweep up than on gravel ;)) somewhere out of direct sunlight but with a good breeze through, a carport is ideal, and allow to dry until it snaps instead of bends when you flex it.
Never use bark off a dead tree, or off a tree that has been rained on between your felling it and your stripping the bark. the tannins are very water soluble, and with the trees systems no longer keeping them in the bark, the rain can wash them out. Always use bark you remove from branches between rains :D also what a carport is ideal... keeps the bark out of the rain if a shower whips up before you can get it inside :D

You'll find many different recipes out in the web about how to brew it up. ranging from dancing widdershins around a cauldron on the night of a full moon naked... to far more prosaic methods :D

I prefer to use the twice the weight of the dry salted skin in bark and half the weight of skin in salt. simmer and strain, then submerge the skin in the resulting brew... stir twice daily until done. :D

Got to sign off now, we have enough rellies here for Xmas/N.Year that the office/comp den is a spare bedroom and they're wanting to sleep :P Any more questions or I think of clarifications or how I can make more sense... I'll answer tomorrow, think of the above as a draft :D
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Tanning hides 30 Dec 2008 10:39 #244651

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I saw something i one of the Lifestyle magazines recently - ws it Lifestyle Farmer? Had photos of all the stages of doing this - and the hide was blue afterwards until it was roughed up with the tool that came with the kit.
2 horses, 15 Chickens, 1 goat, 2 pigs, 1 cat
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Tanning hides 30 Dec 2008 21:20 #244759

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Gidday

Thank you very much for helping a poor dottery old man out.
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Tanning hides 30 Dec 2008 21:24 #244761

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you're welcome, but if you use the widdershins around a moonlit cauldron method please don't post pics ;)
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Tanning hides 30 Dec 2008 22:36 #244764

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Gidday

Youre a bloody beauty mate. Your bloods worth bottling.

I take it the simmering is not actual but just quite hot buit still under boiling. So I may try to set up a solar heater hooked to a plastic drum. Whadaya think about that.

I think I will give the dancing idea a miss, especially the naked bit.
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Tanning hides 31 Dec 2008 09:43 #244798

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yep, hot enough it's painful to put your hand in but not so hot it does actual damage to the aforementioned hand :D If it actually reached boiling temperature, the tannic acids start to degrade to different compounds which are useless for tanning with. Turn the heater off or disconnect it before adding the skins, having it warm when the skin goes in helps the first initial softening and penetration of the dry skin but the end result is no different when starting with cold or warm solution. it's just faster having the skin go soft and squish into the solution. Besides the tannic acids and other associated bark colourings will leave a brown film on glass and I don't think brown solar collectors will be as efficient down the track :D so it may pay to heat the water, disconnect the solar system and then add the bark and let the ambient heat without further application of solar energy do the work. maybe paint the barrel black and put it somewhere warm and sunny for a while?

thew heat might make the plastic go a bit soft, but I can't see why it wouldn't work given what others on here have reported getting with their solar heaters.
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Tanning hides 01 Jan 2009 20:11 #244973

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Right, so I buggered it up by not stretching and working it after the wash following the tanning process. So I've re-wet it, stretched it out and now started the working process. WOW, how soft it is, from what Kiwi generously called 'armour' it's now taking on the appearance of lovely soft leather. The blue 'stain' from the Tanning kit disappeared pretty quickly once I started working it, and it's now mostly white, well, very pale blue. Success!! Thanks everyone, especially Kiwi, who's offered unmeasurable advice, in this process. I've got two more lamb skins which I'll do before attacking the cattle skin but I reckon I can do it.........
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Tanning hides 01 Jan 2009 20:45 #244977

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Good to hear it's gone soft and you're happier with it now :D as I said it's practice that makes perfect and my first skins were a long way from perfect :P
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Tanning hides 13 Apr 2010 21:30 #325059

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I thought it was easier to bring this thread up again instead of starting a new one. :D
Kiwi303, or other tanning experts, what have you found to be the best "tool" to use to scrape the membranes & fat off sheepskins before salting?

Thanks.
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Tanning hides 13 Apr 2010 23:23 #325078

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A butter knife, one of the old good quality stainless ones with the faux ivory bakelite handles...

They're old and not that common now outside of an op shop or antique shop, but they're far better than a modern butter knife, and don't slice the skin like a real knife, and are sharper than the tool that leders include with the kit... that tool is hopeless.
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Tanning hides 14 Apr 2010 14:49 #325165

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I second Kiwi's decsription of the 'knife' in the leders kit :D . I've since learned to sharpen a knife to the point where one could shave with it (if one was male[;)]), and now I very carefully leave all the crap on the animal when skinning it. If I'm not happy with my skinning job then I nail the skin up tight against a piece of ply and using a delicate artistic sweep of my wrist :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes: I slice off the excess fat and membrane. Then I throw it in the washing machine (wool wash[:I]) then straight into the Leders stuff.
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Tanning hides 14 Apr 2010 22:01 #325202

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Ok thanks, don't hold out much hope of finding a butter knife like that around here though. :(
I picked up the Leder kit this afternoon & their knife thingy does seem quite blunt. Would the back (non sharp) side of a normal butchers size knife do the trick instead? I've got 3 sheepskins to play with, so far I've got as far as putting them in an old bath with some washing powder & scrubbing them to get all the blood off the neck area, & I've given them their first, generous, coating of salt. Tomorrow I shall start scraping. [xx(]
The plan is to use the finished product in the dog kennels as winter bedding, so I guess they don't need to be as perfect as if they were going to be floor rugs. [;)]

DrVee us women do shave too you know, only I'd be a little cautious about what areas I shaved with your super sharp knife. :D [:0][:I]
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Tanning hides 15 Apr 2010 00:10 #325211

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If they're for dog bedding, I'm not sure I would be using Leders for that job, theres a reason that Cooper-Chrome-Arsenic was the original Tanilising treatment for timber, they use something else, formic acid or formalyn/formaldehyde now I think, but CCA is still used in some timber treatments.

I wouldn't want my dogs munching on a Chromium treated skin like a Leders kit tanned skin when they get bored. Have a read of the bark tans mentioned earlier in this thread. Acacia or pine bark would be best.
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Tanning hides 15 Apr 2010 11:51 #325231

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Hawai;311269 wrote:
DrVee us women do shave too you know, only I'd be a little cautious about what areas I shaved with your super sharp knife. :D [:0][:I]

:) :) :) :) :) Yeah, I wouldn't shave with my knife either........ but I could, it's that sharp........... in fact, that's how I test it, but on my arm.........
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Tanning hides 15 Apr 2010 21:12 #325310

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Gidday

Oh! Things are getting personal.

Anyway, Kiwi, did I read right that willow bark was O.K.?
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Tanning hides 16 Apr 2010 00:27 #325337

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Depends on the variety Jack, according to several sites google throws out, a couple .edu uni biology reference sites, Salix Alba or White willow has good tannin levels, but I cannot find anything on the other Salix species. They could be worth trying if you have nothing else, but I would just stick with Salix Alba, Pine, or Acacia if you can get those three and european oaks if the council doesn't catch you raiding the reserves trees ;)
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Tanning hides 16 Apr 2010 17:45 #325463

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Gidday

Thanks mate!
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