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How to Tan an Animal Hide with the Hair On

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Tanning an animal hide is a great way to use more of the animal and gives you the materials for making all kinds of fun projects.

The first step is to have a fully deflesh the hide. We have a super simple way that we showed in our post HOW TO PREPARE A HIDE USING A PRESSURE WASHER. Now it is time for the actual tanning.

The first step is to pour 4 gallons of warm water in a large garbage can and dissolve 2.5 pounds of salt in it. Next in a small bucket, combine 1 gallon of water and 1 pound of ammonia alum and stir to dissolve. Slowly add this to the mix in the garbage can, stirring well. Add the hide with the skin side down. Be sure all of it is covered and you stir it regularly so it gets evenly preserved. The hide will remain in the solution for four days. After the four days has elapsed, rinse the hide off thoroughly.

For this next step you need to tack up the hide with the hair side down to a large piece of plywood. Allow it to dry in a sunless location. Once it is mostly dry but still has a little moisture to it apply the tanning solution. This solution is created with 3.5 ounces of neat’s foot oil, 3.5 ounces of warm water and 1 ounce of ammonia. I like to pour this into a spray bottle as it is easier to apply that way. Spray and rub in half of the solution. Wait 1 hour and then rub in the remaining solution. Cover it plastic and allow it to dry.

The next step is to take it off the board and soften the hide.

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