2015 - Volume #39, Issue #4, Page #41[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
More Info On Tanning Deer Hides In A Concrete Mixeryour last issue about tanning deer hides in a concrete mixer. Here’s some more information that might be helpful.
I buy aluminum sulfate online for about $10 for 5 lbs. The process I use is for deer hides only, not cows, buffalo or other animals. I use an inexpensive 3 1/2 cu. ft. concrete mixer. If I’m doing just one hide, one lb. of 98 percent pure lye (caustic soda) is plenty, plus 10 to 15 gal. of water. Cover the mixer opening so the lye can’t splash out. I used a piece of left-over rubber roofing and an 18-in. dia. hose clamp. I also wear a face shield because lye can blind you. Tumble for 24 hrs. and it should be done, depending on the outside temperature - the colder it is, the longer it takes.
Thoroughly rinse the hide, changing the water rinse repeatedly until it no longer has a milky color to it. At this point you’ll have the slimiest thing you’ve ever tried to pick up. I actually handle the hide by grabbing it with 2 pairs of vise grips.
Next, lay the hide flat on a solid surface (like a concrete driveway) and use a fan-shaped nozzle with a pressure washer to “peel” the fat and flesh from the hide. It takes me about 40 min. per hide to do this. Once the hide is “clean,” return it to the mixer with 10 to 15 gal. of water, a pound of aluminum sulfate, and about 5 lbs. of “sea salt”. I use water softener salt, as it’s made from sea water. Also, add 5 gal. of old used golf balls to help “work” the hide as it tumbles. This “pickling” process ensures the hide will last a long time. Rinse the hide “clean” again.
Next, I run the hides in a solution of water (10 to 15 gal.) and Fiebings Neatsfoot Oil (about one pint) with the golf balls to further soften the hide. I bought the Neatsfoot Oil online from Dover Saddlery.
This final tumbling will vary depending on how soft you want the hide to be. The longer the tumbling, the softer the hide will be. I’ve also used walnut hulls to stain the hide black for some leather upholstery work I did. The hide will come out totally white if you don’t add dye or some sort of color. (Gregory Korner, 6020 Lookout Rd., Brookville, Ind. 47012 ph 765 647-6314; firstname.lastname@example.org)
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