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 Post subject: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2016 5:34 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
Veteran Fur Harvester

Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:13 am
Posts: 362
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Timmins
Organization Membership: Timmins Fur Council
I am going to attempt to tan a full moosehide for buckskin this week. I am looking for advice from anyone who has tried this before. Looks like a big project and I am more than a little intimidated... thanks


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 5:12 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
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Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:57 am
Posts: 4113
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Smooth Rock
Organization Membership: OFMF
Your in for a good workout.


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:36 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
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Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:13 am
Posts: 362
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Timmins
Organization Membership: Timmins Fur Council
Lol. Thanks Wahbush. I think I have the basics figured out. Made myself a traditional scraper out of a front leg bone today, it that doesn't seem to work I have a beam and flesher at camp I can use. I think I'll do the de-hairing away from camp, as it looks like it will make a real mess. After that I think most can't be done right at camp. Very excited to see how it turns out, but I sure wish I had an elder or other knowledgeable person to lean on for advice. The internet can only teach you so much....something to be said about hands on guidance.


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 8:18 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
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Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Smooth Rock
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The Cree that I seen do moosehide,worked it in winter.
They cut a hole in the ice in a creek and stuffed the hide under the ice for about 3 weeks or so until the hair came off easy.Make sure you tie it off good and sink it so it don't freeze to the ice.
After you get the hair off you have to scrape off the grain too,that is the waterproof layer that the hair is imbedded in.
After they took it up from the bottom of the creek and de haired it as best they could, they laced it on a frame and frost scraped the grain and the flesh side whenever they had spare time. For this they used a sharp adze with the corners rounded off.There is no time constraints working in winter,you can scrape a bit whenever you have some spare time.Frost scraping can also thin down the thicker spots on the hide.
After that work was done it was removed from the frame,taken inside and submerged in a tub of a soap and lard mixture,then taken out and rolled in a donut and wrung out between a rail and a thick pole like a pick handle, and again soaking in the mixture and wrung out again repeatedly until the fibres were completely stuffed.Then several people would pull and stretch it until it dried,then it was ready for smoking.Old punky rotten tree stump powder was collected in the fall and this was used to smoke the finished skin.Dont let the skin get warm from the smudge fire or it will be ruined.Smoking for a few hours each side will make the fibres waterproof(not the skin)in other words it wont stiffen up after it gets wet and dries.Smoking also pest proofs the skin.I would stretch the skin out to dry on a frame right now and tan it this winter.
If I was you I would start off doing a quarter hide at a time until you get the technique down pat.
A whole moosehide,nicely smoke tanned with no hard spots can be sold for several thousand dollars.A good portion of the price is reflective of the skilled labour involved in producing a nice skin.


Last edited by wahbush on Sun Oct 23, 2016 8:47 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 8:38 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
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Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 11:43 pm
Posts: 655
Location: Chapleau
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Chapleau
Organization Membership: Chapleau Fur Council, OSARVA, Timmins Fur Council
Spike is this a fresh skin your attemping? Please document your steps with photos would be a great add-on here. Good luck. Fyi I wonder if a aged skin with hair still on would work?


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 9:46 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
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Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:13 am
Posts: 362
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Timmins
Organization Membership: Timmins Fur Council
Thanks Wahbush, that is very helpful, and sounds very similar to all the information I have been able to peice together so far. With any luck I should have another hide coming my way which I think I will freeze and try this winter when I have more time. I wanted to try brain tanning, but the hunter who gave me the hide kept the head and headed back down south....so no brains. Talking to guys around here who have successfully tanned furbearers with many different methods from eggs to lard. The method I will be trying uses ivory soap and olive oil.

It is a fresh hide mantracker, actually came out of your next of the woods last week. I'll take a few photos and share my successes ( hopefully ) and failures and the things I learned. Thanks guys. For those interested this is one of the better videos I came across, takes you through step by step.

https://youtu.be/SWUCC00yGd8


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:53 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
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Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:05 pm
Posts: 515
Province/State: saskatchewan
City/Town: Clearwater River
Organization Membership: CFSC Instructor, SK Association of Firearms Education and Hunter Safety Instructor, SK Wildlife Member, SK Trappers Assoc. Member
smoked, brain tanned hides probably a good 40 hour job...Dene around here sell for them for $500...


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:35 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
Veteran Fur Harvester

Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:13 am
Posts: 362
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Timmins
Organization Membership: Timmins Fur Council
So I got a good start to this project. Got everything into camp by 2 pm and spent the rest of the daylight hours building a frame and lashing the moose hide up. I laid out the hide and cut slits every four inches. Keep your steel handy for this part as the hide is 1/4" thick and you must cut through the hair on the other side. I had to resharpen 6 or 7 times to get around the perimeter of the hide.

My first attempt to hoist the hind end up resulted in the quarter inch paracord snapping, me falling on my arse and the hind coming down on top of me. Almost comical, almost. I got some thinker cord and used the atv winch to hoist the hide until I could tie a few lashings

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... ml?filters[user]=143227210&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=1

Got the whole thing lashed by sundown. I found cutting the cord into 20' pieces was easier then feeding 175' of cord through each hole

It froze up overnight cold enough to freeze my wash pail, I think this helped me as the fat fleshed off in nice hard balls, instead of a greasy mess. I did 90% of the fleshing with the front leg bone of the moose, which worked remarkably well.

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... ml?filters[user]=143227210&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=2

It took a full 8 hours of work to flesh this hide. The areas that were rough skinned by the hunters went really well. The areas that the hunters skinned down into the leather was very difficult, and I think it will be difficult to thin later to any kind of uniform thickness. I know as hunters we want to waste as little as possible, but as an after though this part would be much easier if it were rough skinned.

Here's a few of the tools I found useful so far.

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... ml?filters[user]=143227210&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=4

And the fleshed hide, as best as I could get it
http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... ml?filters[user]=143227210&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=0

I will never complain about boarding a beaver again....

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... ml?filters[user]=143227210&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=3

Hope the links work, sorry I haven't had any success posting pictures on here...


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:47 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
Veteran Fur Harvester

Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:13 am
Posts: 362
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Timmins
Organization Membership: Timmins Fur Council
Well that didn't work, let's try this

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... sort=3&o=4


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:50 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
Veteran Fur Harvester

Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:13 am
Posts: 362
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Timmins
Organization Membership: Timmins Fur Council
http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... sort=3&o=3

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... sort=3&o=2

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... sort=3&o=1

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... sort=3&o=0


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 1:15 am 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
Veteran Fur Harvester

Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:57 am
Posts: 4113
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Smooth Rock
Organization Membership: OFMF
Great pics,looks like your off to a good start.


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 1:47 am 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
Veteran Fur Harvester

Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:13 am
Posts: 362
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Timmins
Organization Membership: Timmins Fur Council
The work continues, I started dehairing the hide, but found it to difficult to scrape so instead I shaved the hair off with a knife and used my scraper to take off the roots and thing the leather. Basically I straight shaved a moose. This was a lot of work and a lot of sharpening. To do it again I would buck the hide in a low PH water solution or use Wahbush's friends method of aging in running water to encourage the hair to slip on its own. But I was stuburn and determined to do this now before I start really trapping.

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... ml?filters[user]=143227210&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=5

It took two days work to dehair and thin the hide.

Next i cut the hide down and let it dry for two days while I ran a few short lines.

Then it needed its first smoke. I made a small teepee to hold the hide and a larger teepee around it to hold in the smoke and keep out the rain

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... ml?filters[user]=143227210&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=4

I smoked the hide over a smudge fire of rotten spruce. This was a laerning curve for me as I knew nothing about smudge fires. I tried transferring coals over from a separate fire, holding the pot over a Swedish fire log, but the best results came from starting a small fire in the pot with spruce twigs and slowly adding the rotten wood. The punk must have the right moisture content, too wet and it won't stay burning, too dry and it will flame up and burn the hide. This is a learning experience, but in time I figured it out and mixed wet and dryish punk wood to keep a sustainable smudge fire that didn't flare up.

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... ml?filters[user]=143227210&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=3

I smoked the hide for two days, then flipped it end for end and smoked it one more day.

It is now in the soaking stage, where the hide is soaked in warm water and fabric softener for three days. It was quite hard and ridgid from the smoking and took some doing to get it into the vat. I used heaven rocks to hold it submerged and once it rehydrated I was able to turn it from time to time

http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... ml?filters[user]=143227210&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=0

That's where I'm at now. I'll keep you posted


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 1:50 am 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
Veteran Fur Harvester

Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:13 am
Posts: 362
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Timmins
Organization Membership: Timmins Fur Council
And photo issues agin, I'll figure this out one day..


http://s394.photobucket.com/user/adpowe ... ml?filters[user]=143227210&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=5


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 2:00 am 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
Veteran Fur Harvester

Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:13 am
Posts: 362
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Timmins
Organization Membership: Timmins Fur Council
Sorry guys, not sure what I am doing wrong. If you click on one of the working links in the earlier posts you can scroll left through the new pictures, I can't figure this out


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 Post subject: Re: Making buckskin
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 5:01 pm 
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Veteran Fur Harvester
Veteran Fur Harvester

Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:13 am
Posts: 362
Province/State: Ontario
City/Town: Timmins
Organization Membership: Timmins Fur Council
The hide came out nicely. After the soak I made myself a wringing pole, wrapped the hide around the pole and using a 4" diameter pole wrung all the water out of the hide.

Next I had to break the hide. For this I made a sling out of 1/8" cable, fastened to the floor and the ceiling beam and tightened with a turnbuckle. I worked both sides of the hide over the cable until soft. It was at this stage I took wahbush's advice and cut the hide in two pieces to make it easier to work.

Then it was sewn into a bag, and a peice of canvass sewn to the bottom. I used shoe canvass which can be bout for $12 a yard at any fabric store. One yard is more than enough. This canvas is sewn on to prevent the hide from getting to hot being close to the fire and to ensure the whole hide is smoked. If the hide was just placed over the pot the bottom would not receive much smoke.

A smudge fire was made in a pot and the hide placed over it, with the canvas wrapped around the pot. The leather side is smoked until golden brown in colour and then the bag is turned inside out and the hair side is smoked a few hours more.

The canvas did catch fire at one point, so it is important to pay close attention through out the final smoke. I was able to catch it in time and patch the canvass with some extra material I had on hand.

The next morning I opened up the bag and let it air out outside.

I am pleased with the end product, it it is a little stiff. I will try and break it again on the cable and if that doesn't work I'll buy some tanning oil and try that. Wish I could share some pictures, but I am not having any luck with that right now.


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