Dehairing

Hides, tanning, skinning animals, uses of hides, etc

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Dehairing

Postby Kegan » Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:36 pm

Okay, so I tried dry scrape. Lots of scoring, and time consuming (for ME that is). So, I'm going to wait until spring and try soaking it in rain water. Will this work?
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Postby johnep » Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:10 am

Pressure washer mentioned elsewhere.
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Postby LD » Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:16 pm

You can also take some shortcuts at home if you do not wnat to go the preassure washer route. (Yep the car wash will work too!)

this works best in a garage that does not freeze. do not try to do it in the house. the stink will be unbearable and everyone will want a piece of your hide, espically when it gets to the point that you can not stand it yourself and abandon them to their fate!

Go to Wall-mart and buy a big plastic gargabe can for $5. Take it home and stuff the hides in it and fill it up with tap water. If you have wood ashes mix them into a slurry and pour the whole mess in there. Cover the hides and stir them around. Put a weight on them to hold them under the liquid mess.

Go out there every day and stir the hides.

After a few days the hair will start slipping. They ain't done yet, keep stiring.

After 2 weeks they will probably be ready. They are "right" when the hair slips in big hands full and leaves the hide cleanly. There will be a bit of hair that tries to hang in around the edges but that can be sctaped with no trouble. If part of the hair will not slip return the hide to the can.

Save the hair. It is excellent insulation for use in two layer winter mocciasns. Make one big pair and one small pair, stuff the hair between the layers.

In 1779 the first settlers moved into Nashville TN, walking 500 miles through the worst winter in recorded history. The Cumberland River (larger then the Ohio at that location) was frozen solid and they drove the cattle heard across the ice. The youngest traveler was 10 and the oldest was 65. There was not a single case of frostbite in the group. They were wearing moccs stuffed with deerhair.
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removing hair

Postby paul vallandigham » Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:36 pm

You can buy lye in your hardware store, and in most grocery stores in the housewares, or soap aisles. Its called, " Drano ". Wear rubber gloves when handling the hide in water that has lye in it, to avoid burns. Use an old broom handle, or metal pole to actually stir the barrel.

When the hair begins to slip, rinse the hide and hair off with water-a garden hose comes in really handy, but a car wash works, too. Then scrape the hair off, pulling it out, with the edge of a dull piece of steel. Old lawn mower blades work well as scrapers for this kind of thing. But, any strong piece of steel, at least 8 inches long will do.

Put the hide over a log, or deadfall tree, or a post. You can buy posts for fences at the home depot, or other home supply stores for a fixed price that is usually pretty cheap. Leave one end on the ground, and the other on some kind of support at least waist high to you. Move the hide over the post as you scrape off the hair. I like to push the scraper away from me doing this. That lets the hair roll over the hide and gather in a pile at the bottom of the post, making it a lot easier to clean up and bag to save for later uses. If the hide begins to dry out, put more water on it. The wet underside will keep it pretty stable on the post while you scrape the hair from the topside.

When you get a majority of the hair off, you will want to go over the hide again to remove the rest. That is when a smaller, one-hand scraper comes into use. Wash the hair side of the hide to remove debris, and broken hairs. That allows you to see which hairs are still attached to the hide. If those hairs don't pull out easily, just put the hide back in your barrel with the lye water, stir it around and let it sit another day. Usually, the next day, the final hairs will slip out easily.

I have not tried the pressure washer method, but its sounds worth trying. Anything to get this smelly job done and over with as quickly as possible, so you can rinse the hide out stretch it, and begin the process of tanning it.

I helped a friend take the hair off a wild boar hide, and I recall it only taking 3 days soaking in his barrel of water with lye for the hair to slip. My nose is not a big fan of caustic solutions, but it doesn't like the smell of hogs, either. I don't know which made the job more difficult to do. Deer hides are a blessing by comparison.
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LD hit the nail on the head

Postby halo2 » Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:38 pm

I dehaired a deer hide as LD described, a cheap bucket lined with a trash bag filled with the hide, water and wood ash. I made an ash-water slurry, just mixed the two and worked it into the hide. Nothing fancy, then put the trash bag liner into the bucket, added some slurry first, then the hide, more slurry and water.
Waited a few days, sloshed it around, waited, did it again for about 2 weeks.
Hair came right off.

This was done in spring, though.

It STUNK!
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Postby LD » Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:33 am

One place I lived I had a good creek at the side of the house. I strung about twenty hides on a rope and dumped them into the flowing water.

After two weeks or so, in just plain old flowing creek water, the hair slipped off with no trouble. If you have to scrape anything but a few stray hairs or small patches you have not waited long enough.

Every time you scrape you are removing thickness. If you want heavy tough leather scrape as little as possible.
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Postby Askdamice » Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:01 pm

Are you the same LD from Woodsfolk?
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Postby johnep » Fri Dec 21, 2007 4:14 pm

I have a vague recollection that dog faeces used in tanning industry. This was presumably because any carnivore will have enzymes present in its gut.
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Re: Dehairing

Postby HeritageFarm » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:31 pm

I was under the impression that you could use a drawknife to dehair? Oh, and what about just leaving the hair on the hide, and tan it that way?
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Re: Dehairing

Postby LDS » Thu Jun 10, 2010 10:19 am

You may dry scrape if you desire. That was what the OP was about.

Is there a better way? Suggestions followed.
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Re: Dehairing

Postby your_comforting » Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:43 pm

Not sure I follow the last couple comments on this one, but what I do is use hardwood ashes.

a 5 gallon bucket, filled about halfway with sifted ashes (to remove the big charcoal chunks), add about a gallon and a half of water, stir it up, let it settle, and float an egg in it. The egg should float upright with an exposed area about the diameter of a half dollar, like this:
Image

if the egg floats like this, you're ready. If it sinks, add a little more ashes, if it floats and rolls over, add a little water. Put on gloves. This is the same thing as lye solution.
dunk your fleshed hide in it, stir it around to make sure all surfaces are coated, put a rock on top so it doesn't float, and wait. Check it every day, maybe twice a day, more if the weather is warmer. When the hair will rub off with your finger, it's ready to be scraped, washed, whatever, depending on what you are making. Rawhide or grain leather: just rub the hair off; Buckskin: get your bucket of elbow grease and drawknife.

I wetscrape because I like the way it's self regulating. Once the hide is ready, I take the hair and grain off all in one fell swoop (well, sometimes two or three). I am of the understanding that dry scrape is tedious, and time consuming. Steve Edholm says in his book that letting them enter a certain stage of decomposition helps loosen the grain without using ashes, but the book is about wet scrape.
Ben Kirkland, who teaches braintanning, cannot tell the difference in my wet scrape and someone else's dry scrape (except that mine has no washboarding).
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