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Thread: Braintanning the simple (or overcomplicated) way

  1. #21
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote> YCC Freshly smoked buckskin will have a lingering smoke smell reminiscent of a very fragrant cigar. It's best to store them in a small tote, or chest if you find the smoke smell offensive. I particularly love the smell of woodsmoke and like to hang them around the room. Any clothing left near the buckskins will likely gather a bit of the scent, so it is not suggested to hang them near your sunday best.< Quote.

    LOL, Walked into a meeting after arriving home from two weeks of Rendovouse, some one said. "What burning, I smell smoke?"

    I said, "That would be me".
    Gotta love it.
    Last edited by hunter63; 12-15-2010 at 07:23 PM. Reason: splin'
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  2. #22
    Senior Member Ted's Avatar
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    Excellent tut bro!
    I'm a simple man, of simple means, turned my back on the machines, to follow my dreams.

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    Senior Member flandersander's Avatar
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    So... I've got a question. I've really thought about tnning a hide for a rather long time. Problem is, I don't really wanna take on a project the size of a deer. So, my question is, if deer wasn't an option, what would be a good animal to try with, that would be beginner friendly? Muskrats, coyotes, fox, squirrel etc?

  4. #24
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    RWC. With western deer, it could definately be a problem. Chronic Wasting Disease affects the central nervous system. If CWD is a problem in your area, find an alternate source for brains. From what I understand it is communicable to humans! It hasn't reached over here yet, and I always process my deer that day, brains and all, so typically it hasn't even cooled off yet before I stick in it the freezer with the skin.
    I use hog brains from the grocers if I don't have the head with the deer, which are usually well immunized from diseases, although hogs also carry diseases communicable to humans. Probably the best alternative is to find cow brains if possible, as they have far fewer diseases that people can catch.
    Really, I don't worry about it as long as I don't have any open wounds on my hands. I probably should... If the deer looked healthy when processed, i.e. no liver spots, no brain spots, no crazy behavior, I wouldn't think it would pose any serious threat. To my knowledge CWD is just about the only disease people can get directly from deer.
    In the skull, it takes a day or two for brains to go rancid, and only about 24 hours outside the skull, or container. Best to collect them, and freeze them till ready for use. Several hours of freezing will kill most bacteria and only rarely will any disease last more than a week in there.

    This raises a good point. You are working with materials that will rot, and collect bacteria. If you have any cuts or open wounds on your hands, wait for them to heal before you try to tan any hide. Especially the soaks will be full of bacteria, and I got an infection earlier this year that nearly ate my thumb off.
    Common sense will go a long way!

    FS, any small animal is totally doable. I have done red squirrels and a black fox squirrel, and a fox and a coon, all with hair on. I have read that many of the small game animals are too thin to be scraped down into buckskin, but it's worth a try. I like the fur left on those fellas, so I haven't tried it myself. Rabbit will soften nicely with the fur and grain still on. Squirrels are a little stiff with fur on and might require two brainings to be as soft as you want them.
    "Bye baby bunting, daddy's gone a-hunting to fetch a baby bunny skin to wrap the baby bunting in!"

  5. #25
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Default Sewing up the holes!

    RWC's question about sewing holes reminde me that I didn't mention it here.

    If your deer has holes in it, and chances are that it does, you'll want to sew those up BEFORE stretching the skin, usually before the braining. As the fibers re-align during stretching, the holes will lay flatter and will all but disappear. My abo shirt had two holes in each hide and I bet you couldn't tell from looking at the pics!

    After wringing the water out of the hide after the rinse, you should sew up any holes. Wringing is pretty aggressive and can rip out your stitches and make the holes worse, trust me, I know!!
    You'll want to be a little more gingerly with the wringing after braining too!

    Lay your hide out flat on a table, flesh side up. A scrap piece of wood is handy for using your awl to make a few stitch holes. I use a standard leather (glovers) needle like what comes in the packs of cheap needles from the dollar store. Stitches should be at minimum 1/8" from the edge of the hole, and preferrably about 1/4". stitches should be no more than 1/4" apart for strength.

    Use standard sewing stitches, like the lazy stitch, or whip stitch BUT finish each one with a good knot. Don't just run back through your stitches to finish as with cotton garments. This skin is in for some rough treatment and once it has been brained, time is not your friend! The last thing you want to do is stop softening to re-stitch a hole, and let your hide get stiff!

    Holes might need to be trimmed into a symmetrical shape. Often there are small tags and tatters where the bullet / broadhead / truck went through the hide. The more symmetrical the hole, the better it will lay.

    This is one in the frame. You can see just how much tension is on the stitches. Hand stretching is not as aggressive but it's still recommended to use strong stitchings.Guests can not see images in the messages. Please register in the forum.

    Due to the timing, it's best to rinse, wring (second time), then sew holes. This allows a little time for the hide to reach it's "just right" moisture content where it will soak up the brain solution really well. It always seems to work out just about right for me.

    Of course, with everything involved in braintanning, You might have to adapt or change bits to suit your needs. It amazes me how far apart many of the indigenous peoples lived.. entire continents apart, seperated by oceans.. yet they all had very similar techniques for tanning skins. Wet-scrape brain-tan has been used all over the world at one point or another, provided materials were available.
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Senior Member flandersander's Avatar
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    I've decided. I'm gonna make a pair of gloves as featured in the glove making thread. I think I'll do a hair-on tan using white rabbits. Now all I gotta do is snare a couple rabbits. Think 2 will be enough?

  7. #27
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Doesn't rabbit fur come loose rather easily? I've never tanned so I don't know.

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    Senior Member flandersander's Avatar
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    Actually now that you mention it, I think it does... Hmm. Muskrat then... I dunno lol.

  9. #29
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    Salting a hide helps set the hair, still totally doable with rabbits.

    I'd have 4 rabbits on hand to make gloves, but you really want to follow the "Braintanning pelts" thread. fur-on hides is much less involved than buckskin.

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Edit: I've condensed the videos into one slightly edited version. Hopefully I didn't lose too much details!

    preparing the ashes.

    enjoy!
    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 02-07-2011 at 10:14 AM. Reason: adding vids
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Did Santa bring you a new camera YCC?

  12. #32
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    nope. It's out on loan from grandma. Figured I'd make use of it while we had it. Keep your fingers crossed she'll let us hang on to it till I get this series done. Long story short, my aunt in Alaska got her one to do vids of the family at christmas, to send to her.

    I show a few tools here, and talk briefly about them. some are metal, some are bone


    The drawknife was my grandads, and the rest I made myself. Fleshing video coming!

  13. #33
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Nice vids YCC. You should post them in the instructional video section as well.
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  14. #34
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Thanks. I'm trying to keep the downloads small so it won't take forever. sorry it's in so many different clips!

    For those that haven't seen it done, this is the fleshing of a hide. You literally plow the meat and tissue off with a dull tool. I prefer the waist beam setup as it allows more pressure on the work and you can wedge the skin between yourself and the beam.
    I show using all 4 tools, and I even break one! Never tried an ulna-radius bone before, so I snapped it on the first try!

    This video shows some grossness, so it's not for those with weak stomachs!

    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 02-07-2011 at 10:18 AM. Reason: condensed video added

  15. #35
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    Edit: combined the videos into one!

    *Please put lids on your buckets!*
    It got dark on me, but this vid shows the hide going in the bucket and how you have to work it in to make sure you get it coated all over.

    There's one more vid in this series of bucking, then we'll move on to the graining and membraning. I checked the hide late yesterday, and the hair hadn't moved, so it might be a day or two (more) before I get to work it.



    *the notes above were for the clipped versions*
    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 02-07-2011 at 10:24 AM. Reason: adding videos

  16. #36

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    That bucking solution is way thicker than i imagined, almost like a real thin, overly thin concrete mix. More of a paste than liquid.

  17. #37
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    yes, it's definately more pasty than liquidy. It really takes a lot of fingerwork to get it all in the hair. It seemed to dry a little more over the last two days, so I added about 2 cups of water, stirred, and re-dunked it today. It's just barely above freezing and been snowing off-and-on all day. Might take several days to buck, since this was a large males skin.

  18. #38
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    The bucked hide coming out of the bucket
    Hide comes out of the bucket and onto the beam. Getting a small start on the neck.
    Working on the neck a little more..
    Notice how the beam flexes under the pressure.

    The layers of skin exposed in High Definition




    Edit: notes above were for clipped versions. I decided to leave the "skin layers" part in high def, but it is included in the long clip also.
    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 02-07-2011 at 10:27 AM. Reason: adding videos

  19. #39
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    Awesome tutorials. Thanks a bunch.
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  20. #40
    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    You have witnessed the hell that is graining on the neck.. once you get further into the hide, it gets a lot easier. If your hide isn't graining this easily, it needs to buck longer!

    Mind the thin areas around the armpits, belly, and legs. You can really dig into the thick middle part of the hide without worry, but ticks, thorns and scar tissues will make great big holes if you aren't careful!

    You can see in this shot that it really gets easy the further you get in. The grain starts coming off in ribbons.

    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 02-07-2011 at 10:31 AM. Reason: condensed videos

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