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Old 07-21-2010, 10:51 PM
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Default Help tanning rabbit hides



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Can anyone give me some pointers (or even a good step-by-step) on tanning rabbit hides?

I usually kill a dozen or so every summer, they really wreak havoc on my vegetable garden. Just got two more tonight. We usually stew up the meat but I hate having the furs go to waste.

Most of the instructionals I find online involve buying 12oz of "XXXXX tanning solution" or some other kit and using that, I'm really looking for more of an old-school method. I mean, people have been doing this for thousands of years right? Why do I need some $30 kit?

I tried one earlier this spring but it didn't turn out so well. I don't recall the exact procedure but it involved coating the fleshy side of the hide with a mixture of salt and ash, leaving in a baggie in the fridge for several weeks, then a soak for several days in a diluted battery acid solution. The fur stayed intact and very fluffy, smelled fine (like a clean dog), but the hide itself wasn't supple at all, very crinkly like wax paper. I tried wetting and stretching it several times, just didn't seem to make much difference.

I have a half-dozen or so rabbit hides in the freezer right now so I can experiment a bit. Anyone have any pointers? Procedures they have used that work well? I promised my kids little snugglies made from the bunnies we shot . . .
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:21 PM
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http://www.motherearthnews.com/Moder...bit-Hides.aspx
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Old 07-22-2010, 04:20 AM
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My first litter will be ready for culling soon, so I started looking into this just yesterday, and here's what I have found and will be trying, the old-school American Indian brain-tan method. Now granted, the following links reference deer hide, but it can be applied to rabbit as well I'm sure (apparently all mammals have enough brain matter to tan their own hide with the exception of the buffalo). It looks to me like the most important part in keeping the hide supple will be the cabling.

The first link references cabling, the second a similar process using wood, and the third a lot of wetting and wringing. I'm going to go with cabling because of the small size of the hide - I would think the third method would be best for larger hides.

http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/ho...indian-tanning

http://www.manataka.org/page27.html

http://www.pioneerliving.net/tanninghides.htm

There's plenty more out there, videos as well - use "brain tan(ning)" as a search term if you think this could do it for you.

* Neat's Foot-Oil can be substituted in place of brain mixture.
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Old 07-22-2010, 03:16 PM
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Thanks for the suggestion. I have considered the brain tanning method but unfortunately I have a freezer full of pelts and no carcasses at the moment.

I'm hoping for someone who's actually done this successfully to chime in? Anyone? The rabbit skins are so thin I'm afraid some of these methods for larger pelts won't work well on rabbits.
Old 07-22-2010, 04:07 PM
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our prisoners soak them in antifreeze for a week or two and then rinse several times and they turn out great...for natural ways you can find all kinds of info on ehow.com and any natural ways site
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robkenpo View Post
our prisoners soak them in antifreeze for a week or two and then rinse several times and they turn out great...for natural ways you can find all kinds of info on ehow.com and any natural ways site
Straight antifreeze, or mixed?
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:35 PM
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I have had friends do deer hides with anti freeze and they came out fine. I have done a bobcat just rubbing the skin with neats foot oil and it looks great, but I hear the hair will fall out after a while if not properly tanned.
Old 07-24-2010, 12:18 AM
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In my experience tanning rabbit (and other) hides, they get crinkly and stiff when two things are not done:

1. it is not broken completely before it dries. That needs to be done fairly quickly and thouroughly, otherwise you will end up having to rehydrate, and in some cases redo the tan depending on the process used.

2. tanning oil is not used prior to the breaking process. the commercial tanning oils are not expensive and very good. However, I have heard of many natural alternatives. Neats foot oil. olive oil. different mixtures of things, lots of recipies on the net. Basically you want to restore some of the oils that were removed from the hide during the process so that it can be supple again.

Hope this helps a little.
Old 07-24-2010, 08:53 PM
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I thought the inner bark from oak trees has high amounts of tannin in them. I don't know the specifics but you steep the bark in boiling water awhile then add the pelts after it cools some. Then stretch the pelts a few days.

That sound familiar to anyone?
Old 07-25-2010, 09:40 AM
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I have always use the old fashion style of using the animals brain. Look up brain tanning. Always worked great on the deer hides I have done
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Old 07-26-2010, 02:24 PM
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I have been trying to learn how to tan for a long time. I usually kill 3-4 deer a year and usually a few rabbits too. I feel as though I am wasting the hide and as this goes against my belief of using as much of your kill as possible, I want to resolve it.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:01 PM
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jcodyr19 - Tanning is really not a hard process, but labor intensive. Breaking is the hardest part. I got a deer last fall, and I tanned the hide, but missed the breaking window, so it is stiff, but if you get it to the point of being tanned like I did, I can go back and rehydrate it and then go through the breaking process again.

If you want to hold onto the hide until you get around to tanning it, you can roll it up and put it in a plastic bag that is sealed well in the freezer!

There are so many things that you can do with the hides it is a shame to waste even the smallest ones. Any part for that matter - I taxidermy bird wings as well to make fans to cool myself with, they are very reliable, and very easy to make. If you ever need any help dont hesitate to PM me, nor anyone else for that matter, Im glad to help.

KimiKitty - I actually looked in one of my books today and did see the bark tanning process. Tomorrow, I will try to type it up in a new thread for you. I intend on trying this myself on a rabbit hide, it seems interesting.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:57 PM
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Default Summer furs are garbage...

Lotsa good pointers and links here so I won't get into more of that but if you try to process furs taken in the summertime they won't turn out very good no matter what you do.

We also had a bunch in our freezer, like about eight per week for some time till we can get to them but everything from about May till now isn't worth keeping at all.

I am not a big fur knowledgeable guy but a friend of mine has trapped since he was a kid and a lot commercially and he convinced me to just chuck all the summer ones. When we slaughter our rabbits since the season got warmer(we're to a litter a week now for food) it's a bunch of fuzzy fluff all over the place compared with the colder months.
Old 07-26-2010, 11:16 PM
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^^^ I agree, and disagree at the same time about this for a couple reasons.

1. summer hides are usualy less lush and pretty in their thickness and consistency just due to the animals natural coat. So you get what you take in the end, even with quick and precise processing.

2. However, you can easily get a hide to turn out well that was taken in the summer as long as you process it at lightning speed. I have taken a rabbit in the summer, and when I tanned and mounted it found that with proper oiling I got a nice soft shiny fur. This means that the hide needs to come off and go straight in the freezer, especially if you can get a coat of stop-rot on it which helps IMMENSLY in the summer. I cannot reccomend stop-rot enough.

As an aside, I thought the same thing about hides in the summertime, but learned differently when we went hunting in Australia for our honeymoon. With the heat down there, I had to skin out, and if I took too long, got it back in the refridgeration to chill while I caped out another trophy.

ETA: Dont forget if any hide have bad fur, or you dont like the way the summer furs turn out, you can also remove fur and just tan it like leather. Also very useful!

Last edited by FireTiger; 07-26-2010 at 11:23 PM.. Reason: Addition
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Old 07-27-2010, 10:16 AM
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Years ago I tried some different tanning methods. I dont have the exact mix, but the 2 I had the best results with a sulfuric acid mix(not the safest) and one using Alum, I have several pelts from rabbits I have raised in my deep freeze and planning on using the alum mix. My 2 cents would be to find a mix that uses a combo of plain salt and alum. The easiest way to get good quality furs is all in the Prep of hides and in the softening step. It is some work.
Old 07-27-2010, 11:39 AM
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Rabbit Pelt Instructional, the old way. And the best way.

After you skin the rabbits, lay the furs down on a wood ply board, wet side up.

-Nail the furs to the ply board.

- scrape any excess fat off the skin. ( You can scape fairly hard, the rabbit skin is quite tough.)

- Salt the skins. Add good layer of salt.

- Stow skin board in a dry place away from direct sunlight, and away from dogs and cats. They love to eat salted rabbit pelts.

When the skins are dry in a week, they will be crusty and stiff. Rub off excess salt with leather gloved hands, and with the bottom of your fist massage the skin.
Add olive oil to the skin and keep massaging the oil into the skin. Little oil at a time.

If you don't want to use olive oil you can use skin moisturizer, it works just as well. The pelts should be soft and foldable. Don't add more moisturizer than you need to.

Trim the skins of any raggy bits.

Good rabbit fur hats can be made by this salting, and moisturizing method. Just double side the skins, by stitching skinsides together, then stitch those together to form the hat.
A rabbit skin hat is very warm, and it makes you look a bit Davy crockett, but its well worth it.

Someone will ask you, " Where did you get that cool hat " and they'll ask you to make them one as well. Trust me.

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Old 07-27-2010, 12:40 PM
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I have never heard of doing hides exactly like that before. It looks like its essentially drying them out. I often do small mammal mounts with a dry preservative, and use borax on birds to dry them out. But I know that type of preservation comprimises the long term longevity of the pelt. However, if you have enough pelts to go around for the forseeable future and if shtf, thats a good way to go. The olive oil is a good trick for getting them soft with a dry preservative. Thanks.
Old 07-27-2010, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FireTiger View Post
I have never heard of doing hides exactly like that before. It looks like its essentially drying them out. I often do small mammal mounts with a dry preservative, and use borax on birds to dry them out. But I know that type of preservation comprimises the long term longevity of the pelt. However, if you have enough pelts to go around for the forseeable future and if shtf, thats a good way to go. The olive oil is a good trick for getting them soft with a dry preservative. Thanks.
No worries. I've just kept the simple methods that the oldtimers used. I 've seen people tanning with dangerous fuming chemicals that could bring harm and also damage the environment. Its not the way to go.

Salt and olive oil, that won't harm anything, and it gives you a fine pelt every time.
My method is easy compared to 10 dunking methods and chemical bath formulas, and phases of the moon cr@p.
The oldtimers did things the easiest way with simple gear and minimal ingredients.

I'm just glad I could help. Theres alot of rabbit skins just being thrown to the dogs.
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Old 07-27-2010, 02:27 PM
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We did moose hides, it is very labour intensive.

Many, many, hours of using a sturdy stick, pointed but not sharp, to stretch and scrape the hide, before final tanning.
Old 07-30-2010, 04:00 PM
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oak buds in the spring have a substantial amount of tannin in them. You can extract this with hot water and then use it as tanic acid for tanning.
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