Here's a basic guide to tanning
Things you need.
1. plastic barrels (wood is fine too and more than one if you can) NOT METAL
2. Salt (not table salt) from any agriculture store
3. at least filtered water but the purer the better
4. battery acid (33% sulphuric) or aluminium sulphate
4. Oak, willow or similar tannin rich bark
4. Chromimum sulphate (chrome crystals)
5. fleshing beam (any round beam that the skin will fit over)
6. A good knife
7. a freezer if you want to keep them untill you have plenty to do at once
8. a few practice skins (rabbit or the like)
9. safty equiptment
Where to start
the animals are skinned, then fleshed salted, fleshed some more and salted again. Onece salted the skin can be folded and stored in the freezer for upto a year.
to get a skin ready for tanning it will need to be soaked, a solution of 1ounce borax 1 gallon water soak untill soft (dont over soak or the fur will slip)
or house hold bleech 1 ounce, to 8 galloons of water
Tanning your hide
Caution mix tanning solutions slowly!
There are many ways of tanning a pelt that would make it suitable for flytying. Acid tans, vegi tans, and chrome tans are the best
vegi and chrome tans are the most perminant. however the vegi tan takes avery long time and chrome tans are expensive and change the colour of the fur/hide but both are able to be dyed.
Acid tans are easy cheap, and dont change the colour of the fur or hide, however they are not perminant and will eventualy loose thier tan and they cannot be dyed.
Acid alum tans
Wear gloves, aprons, and goggles
sulphuric acid tan paste
1/2 ounce of pure sulphuric acid, or 1 1/2 ounces of battery acid, 1 pound of salt, add water (only enough to make paste)
cover the flesh side of the skin and cover with a sheet of plastic, leave for 6 hrs, scrape the old paste off and reapply new paste leave it uncovered to dry scrape this off and use a relaxing soloution and work the skin while it is wet to get it soft
Alum tan paste
mix 2 ounces washing soda, 4 ounces salt, and 8 ounces alum (or aluminimum sulphate) add soft water to make paste.
cover the flesh side of the skinwith paste and cover it so it wont dry, leave for 3 days and scrape it off re apply the paste as many as 3 times
when done wash in borax water.
to nutrualize, 1 ounce baking soda, to 1 gallon of water
for each pound of skin, 16oz oak or hemlock bark, 1 ounce of salt, 1 gallon of water simmer bark in water for 3 hours, and steep for 48 hours (you want to keep the acidity around 4.5-5ph if it gets to acid add baking soda) stir and work the skins while they are tanning for small skins test after 3-5 days by boiling in water it will go rock hard if it is not tanned and will not have even colour through the cross section.
Use gloves, apron, goggles
Chrome tan is very poisonous
This method produces the most durable pelt but cost a lot more
For each pound of skin mix, 1 gallon of water, and 8 ounces of salt soak the skin in the pickle for 1/2 hours.
For every pound of skin mix, 1 quart of warm water (aprox 120 deg F)with 3 ounces of chrome crystals
remove the skin from the salt pickle and add half the chrome tan solution to the salt pickle. put the skin back in.
leave the skin in for 12 hours, then remove the skin and add the rest of the chrome tan solution. put the skin back in.
stir it from time to time for 5 days, start testing for tan
When tanned the skin will have a blue/green colour through its cross section, if boiled it will be tanned if the skin dosnt go rock hard
Neutralise the crome tan with 1ounce baking soda to 1 gallon of water
What to do next?
Work the skin while it is still wet over the edge of a bench the back of a chair what ever you can get away with you need to work it in diffrent directions only trial and error will let you know when it is done. If it drys while you are working it can be rewetted with a damp cloth or a fine spray
after this work neats feet oil or dubbin oil in to your skin (this will improve durabilityand suppleness)
If you tanned with chrome or vegi tanning you can now dye your skin you just need to work it a wee bit after wards
if acid or alum tanned you cannot dye the hide with out loss of the tanning chemical from the skin