Tanning my first wallaby hide.

Why am I curing the Wallaby hide?  While I don’t have any definite plans for it… I would love a pair of moccasins, they look so comfortable.  My main plan is just practicing the methods of curing hides and trying to get a level of skill which will mean that it isn’t just luck when I succeed in the curing process.

I have tried curing hides previously, and while I have yet to perfect my method, I have had some success.  That said, lately every hide I tan has been failing.  Basically, I have succeeded in making rawhide.  Obviously, that is a great skill, yet it isn’t getting me closer to those moccasins.  I talked to some friends of mine, who have much more experience in tanning hides and they recommended I purchase some actual tanning solution.  I decided that while I would prefer to so my curing with all natural products, perhaps I should learn to do it with any product that works.

The hide after it’s salt covering. Orlaith is really enjoying the smell.

They recommended that I generously salt the hide, covering the skin side.  The hide should be then rolled up and placed in a safe place for a couple of days.  The hide will leak fluids as the salt works on the skin, so don’t put it anywhere you want to keep clean.

I modified this a little and I kept the hide stretched out on a frame while it was salted, allowing it around 5 days to absorb the salt.  Every day I would check the hide and add more salt to any areas that were bare.  After the salting process I allowed the hide to dry a little till I could arrange to stop off at the gun store to buy some tanning solution.

Orlaith is at it again, she likes to help. I am attempting to scrape the hide bare of flesh and fat.

Before I could soak the hide in the tanning solution I needed to scrape the excess flesh from the hide.  This process is apparently called “fleshing the hide”.  I did not have a special tanning knife, so I used items I had available…. My hatchet and a garden weeding tool.  These did an adequate job of cleaning off the flesh and excess fat.

After this step (and I don’t want to make it seem this step was easy… it took ages and my arms were pretty tired) I placed the hide into the to a plastic bucket with the tanning solution and it was time to play the waiting game.  Each day I would check to ensure the hide was fully submerged, and after a week I was satisfied the hide was done.  I verified this by, using a very sharp knife, I sliced at the side of the hide and ensured that the tanning dye had permeated the hide thoroughly.

I am so lucky my dog loves to help. This is the bucket of tanning solution after a week. I am about to rinse it clean.

I then stretched out the hide to allow it to dry, and apparently this was a bit of a mistake, as the hide still needs to be a little moist for the addition of Leather Lube to cause the hide to become soft and supple.  I still added the Leather Lube and I believe the hide is softer, yet it isn’t perfect.

This hide is now dry and ready for my project… now to collect a few more…

I have a lot to learn about tanning hides successfully.  This is something I will have to do with practice, so I guess I will have to get out there and hunt some more.  I also have a long way to go before I can make my moccasins… This one is only the start, I may need another three before I might be able to have another go at making them.  Those wallabies better look out!

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