I am starting to do my own hobby tanning. I have done a couple hides, and I've been happy with how they have come out. For instance, I did a squirrel that turned out soft and fluffy and really nice. I use a salt and alum tanning solution, with amonium aluminum sulfate as the active ingredient.
I recently got two snowshoe hares, and I currently have the pelts tanning. They should turn out nice if I do it right, but I ripped them up a little bit while I was fleshing them out. In the instructions I used (downloaded from the good old interwebs), I understand that a thin layer of skin / flesh must be removed from the flesh side of the pelt in order for the tanning to come out right. On the squirrel pelt, for instance, I was able to scrape, scratch, and peel this layer off without damaging the outer skin or hide. I ended up ripping the rabbit hide, though, and I am curious if there is some trick that I am missing here.
For the upper portion of the back of the hide, I was able to flesh it without much problem, but getting lower on the back, I found I was basically unable to remove this thin layer of flesh without ripping right through the pelt. So now I have two rabbit skins that are more or less all shredded going into the mid portion of the lower back. I will try and stitch the holes with floss, but still, it seems like a shame to have ripped it in the first place.
I tried to be very gentle in peeling off the layer of skin, but I still ripped through. Anybody have any words of wisdom for me? Is a rabbit hide thin enough that maybe you can leave this skin layer on? Is there some treatment I can perform to the pelt, like soaking it overnight, that will allow me to remove this layer more easily without compromising the quality of the fur? I soaked it for a couple hours, but I read that soaking in water more than necessary can cause the hair to slip.
Let me know what you think. Thanks in advance. Happy New Year!