Caffeine: the most potent artificial intelligence drink!

Caffeine: the most potent artificial intelligence drink!
Deep in the Lair of the Perpetually Curious Fox

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Processing a White Tail buck hide into .... [still undecided!]

Got a bit tweaky (bored and restless) so I decided to thaw out the white tail buck hide that's been sitting in the freezer for a couple of months. This time I'm attempting to process and tan it without salt curing the hide, just to properly document it.

Fleshing the Hide

There's a reason why leather work and butcheries in various cultures are usually relegated to the lowest castes; it can be a very gory process complete with excessive slathering of blood, tissue fluids, bodily goo, and if you're unlucky enough to work with a less than fresh hide, the perfume of putrefying flesh.

Be thankful for small mercies, that's my advice. A freshly thawed hide (provided you freeze it as soon as you skinned it off the animal) does not smell nasty. It does still, however, have a lot of fresh tissue goo, blood, etc. which is one of the reasons I prefer to salt cure a hide and let nature do it's work for me in breaking down the icky stuff.

Ideally, one should use a flesher beam and a proper fleshing tool. I am a great believer in the K.I.S.S principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) so all I used for fleshing this critter was my good ole knife (the edge dulled with use)  and a 2x2 piece of cedar. Works fine once you know the technique.

Just use the dull-ish edge to get a working edge of the membrane and "push" it off the skin. How dull should the knife be? Dull enough that you don't cut your own skin if you run the edge on your hand. This is so you can apply a lot of pressure on the hide to move the goo but not cut the skin.

Short break is needed!

There, all clean. All it takes is a dull knife, a piece of wood with rounded edges and a lot of goo scraping for 90 minutes

Then the fleshed and de-membraned hide is washed to get rid of most of the blood and surface goo, and clean the fur of "pollution". Don't worry too much about getting the rest of the goo out. It'll come out easier when you soak it later for dehairing. Once "kinda" clean, dry it out as soon as you can before anything has a chance to rot and stink.

In the meantime, I trimmed a piece of belly skin with the hair on to see what's the best way to "slip off" the hairs without using special chemicals.

So into the bucket of room temperature water, with a bit of borax added in (just to cut the oils)

In the mean time, the rest of the hide is loosely framed so that the edges dry properly without curling up.

Bamboo needle makes things so much easier.

Laced up in a warm, dry, lotsa air circulation place.
Cat likes to sit under the frame and pretend it's a Lean to

Back to the belly skin in the bucket, 3 days later.....

The hair has started to slip! Using the same method as "fleshing", you can easily scrape off the hair AND the grain layer in this particular piece. If you're planning to bark tan the skin, leave the grain on. Of course, you can bark tan a grain off skin, but it'll be less water resistant. The grain helps the leather to repel water naturally.

For making buck skin, the grain is taken off. Once soaked for 3 days, the grain and hair just slides off with a blunt edge. No nassssty chemicals like Ca(OH)2 is needed, really, but if you like to have things easy, sure, lime it. Just make sure you rinse and neutralised all the lime outta the hide afterwards.

Re-scrape the flesh side while you're at it. Lotsa Hide Snot oozes out of the fibres in the soaking.
Once scraped mostly off the grain and hair, and removing superfluous Hide Snot, wash and rinse to get a wet sheet of unprocessed deer skin. Just for the hell of it, I just plopped this wet skin into a tub full of tea (yes, as in tea leaves).

Look! Alien Goo!

Tannin turns Alien Goo into partially tanned leather.
In the meantime, the rest of the hide on the frame has dried, so it was unlaced and stored for the moment while I debate with myself on whether to bark tan or brain tan the rest of it!

Gigantic Deer Jerky!

Deer hock pouch
Deer hock pouch, iteration 2; with belt loop
How to skin deer legs for hockskins
Bark tanning hair on deer hide
How to remove the pasterns and coffin bone from a deer foot
Salt Curing deer hides for storage
How to degrease deer bones for making tools
Soap/Oil tanning hoof-on, hair-on, Mule Deer hockskin

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