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Thread: Making rawhide

  1. #1
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014

    Default Making rawhide

    In another thread (butchering pictorial) member Wykee5 asked me the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by wykee5 View Post
    Do you have a tutorial on the rawhide making process? I have a couple of deer hides which are green right now, but I would like to do some buckskin/rawhide without hair. I picked up a pretty decent recurve at a garage sale for an even better price, and I have this vision in my head of heading out into the wilds, covering what parts need to be covered with buckskin, and covering the rest of me with mud/charcoal. Decorated as such, I plan to become one with the flora, sending forth a cedar shaft arrow from the recurve, and letting the wind out of an unsuspecting aforementioned hoofed animal.
    But before any such dream can come to fruition, I need to figure out how to turn the deer hide into pants and moccasins and such, and I would be cheating myself if I allowed someone else to do it. Any words of advice on the process?
    Since that is outside the scope of the deer processing thread I will start this thread.

    First off, Rawhide and buckskin are two very different things. Rawhide is stiff and buckskin is soft and supple and suitable for wearing. As to prepping the hide, both are the same process until you get to the point where you stop and leave it as rawhide. Lets start there.

    You need to flesh the hide. You have to remove all the meat. I lace a hide to a frame and use scraping tools to remove the meat from salted hides. Here are some pics I took.

    The fresh skinned hide

    Salting the hide on a sheet of plywood (set it at an incline so the liquids can run off.) Salt it twice. Once the first layer gets saturated, remove the wet salt and salt it again. This takes 2 days but will help in fleshing because fleshing a slimy hide is no fun.

    Then the drier and slightly stiff hide can be laced to a frame.

    You can leave it out in the sun next to your Tipi but take it inside before this storm hits. At least I closed up the smoke flaps on my Tipi .

    Any manner of scraping tools can be used (along with a knife) to remove all visible meat and fat. A large stainless steel serving spoon with one edge sharpened on a grinder works great. You can find these in the kitchen when your wife is away from home. Once all the meat and fat is removed you will want to remove the hair.

    You can do this with homemade lye. Make lye water by leaching rainwater through hardwood ashes. You can see how it done on youtube by typing in “making lye” See this link.

    After seeing that you may want to purchase lye. LOL

    Lye helps to get the hair to slip. You want to remove not just the hair but the root as well. You don’t want to shave the hide or it will have razor stubble and feel p rickly and rough.

    It will take a few days for the hair to slip. Once the hair slips easily you need to get the hair and dermis layer off the hide. I use a large diameter piece of PVC pipe and a saw horse.

    When the hair is gone it looks like this.

    A video is worth a thousand words. This is not my video. I stole it from youtube but it will help you.

    Now that you have one hide done, you will need to do 4 or 5 more hides since you want to make an entire suit/outfit.
    If you stop here and stretch this hide out on a frame and let it dry, you have rawhide. You can use it for making snowshoe lacing or drum heads or lacing to tie things together like knife blades to handles, etc. Here are a few ways I use the rawhide.

    The drum head in this picture is made from my rawhide method described above.

    If you want to take this de-haired hide further and into a soft garment leather suitable for wearing, that is a whole other process and lots of work. When I get some time I will come back to that.

  2. #2
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014


    When it comes to turning your hide into leather or tanning the hide there are as many methods and recipes as there are stars in the sky. If you want to go “Native” then you want to brain tan, break and smoke your hide. Youtube once again is a real source for brain tanning info but as the name says, you use the animals brains. The good lord gave each animal enough brains to tan its own hide.

    If your into more modern methods there are any number of solutions, formulas and kits avail through taxidermy supply outlets. While I have not personally used Trapper’s I have heard and read many good things about it. See link

    Vandykes (and other taxidermy supply houses) sell kits that you might use. I have a lutan kit waiting for me to find the time to test it out on a deer hide. Some of these include a CD showing you how to use them. See link.

    For my tastes, I tend to purchase my leather rather than make it. After tanning a few hides (both hair on and hair off) I understand the level of effort involved. Rawhide I prefer to make myself. If you plan to make your own garment leather, make sure to blog the steps along the way. I know everybody would benefit from seeing it done.


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