The Basics of Tanning a Hide

In this article we are going to get back to the basics with primitive lifestyle skills. We are going to talk about how to tan a hide. This is not a complex skill to develop, it is quite easy to do. Now take note that we’ll talk about the basics first, and this would mean taking out the excess and unwanted material stuck to the hide. Due to the nature of modern day busy lifestyle we will also need to learn how to preserve it,

So the first thing you can do when trying to remove excess material from the hide is to use a dull knife or even a conventional spoon to scrape the excess material such as meaty or fatty tissue off the hide. Don’t use a sharp knife as you might cut through the hide. Please note that this is an easy skill to do, only if you dedicate some time to it. When cutting of excess material from the hide, such as fatty tissue always scrape away from you and at 90 degrees with the knife. Apply firm pressure and scrape through the area as best as you can. You can also pull on the edges of the hide to make it taut. Making it taut will assist in making it easier to scrape.

If you have a stubborn portion that doesn’t want to cooperate and can’t be easily scraped off, you can try pushing the edge of the knife with firmer pressure to force the stubborn fleshy portion off. You can also use the point of the knife by using it to get through the dull portion. The trick to this is to pull the hide so it becomes really taut and you can get in there and remove the stubborn portion. Remember, patience and some degree of finesse is the key.

It is going to take you some time to remove all that excess stuff. You also have to take into consideration that you will be busy with family, work, school, etc., that you won’t have time to scrape it all off in one sitting. This is where preservation comes in and it’s really pretty easy. You can get a can of salt and sprinkle it liberally on the hide. After that you can fold it and roll it up and put in a bucket with some stones in it. This allows some of the excess fluid still present in the hide to drain between the stones, allowing your hide to dry out further. You can check your bucket once in awhile and make sure you drain any excess fluid present. With this salting method you can preserve the hide for several months and can easily go back to where you left off.

Okay now I think it’s time to practice, as this can take some time to master. Remember, be patient! Learning how to tan a hide takes some time.

Craig Caudill instructs on how he uses machetes, hatchets, and saws in the great outdoors on Dan’s Depot.

5 thoughts on “The Basics of Tanning a Hide

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  • January 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Craig, you make this sound pretty easy. I don't know if I'll ever need to know how to tan a hide, but at least I'll know how to do it in the case that I'd need to know.

    Thanks, and nice video!

  • January 15, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I have never skinned an animal, or even seen it done in person. Not really sure I ever could, but this makes it sounds less distasteful and not as hard.

  • January 15, 2013 at 6:13 am

    I would think skinning would be the toughest thing.. although if you were doing it to surevive maybe not.

  • January 15, 2013 at 12:49 am

    This is a great article. Tanning a hide is a great survival skill. Thank you for including this.


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