Home Tanning of Leather and Small Fur Skins. Page: 3
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Backs cost a little more than sides. A "bend" is a side of leather with
the belly, legs, and shoulder trimmed off. It is the best leather of the
hide and is approximately one-half the area or weight of the side.
Bends cost more than either backs or sides.
A comparison of the prices at which leather can be bought with the
charges for having hides tanned will show which is cheaper. As a
general rule, it is believed that it is cheaper to have sides tanned onehalf
for the other.
Sometimes hides and skils can be sold by a farmer or rancher only
at prices which are lower than the cost of production. Sometimes
"country" hides cal scarcely be given away, yet farmers must pay
from $1 to $1.50 a pound for leather in small pieces. Under such
conditions farmers naturally feel that they must either work up their
raw materials or do without the finished leather. As a result, the
United States Department of Agriculture has received thousands of
requests for directions for farm or home tanning. To meet this
demand the following directions have been prepared for tanning one
or more hides or skins with only the equipment that can be had on
any farm or ranch.
Although good results have been obtained in this Bureau by using
the equipment and following the directions here given, inexperienced
operators probably often will be unsuccessful. Every attempt, however,
will add to their experience and should reduce the number of
their failures. Operating on a small scale, they cannot hope to make
leather equal in appearance, and possibly in quality, to that on the
market. They should, however, be able to make leather which is
serviceable for many purposes on farms and ranches.
The directions for tanning need not be memorized, but they must
be studied carefully until thoroughly understood before the work is
begun. All supplies and equipment should be on hand and all plans
should be carefully made before the work is started. It may be necessary
to modify the directions, especially those dealing with equipment
or tanning conditions. Success in modifying them depends largely
upon the individual.
Tanning operations are done best at a uniformly moderate temperature.
A cellar, which is naturally fairly warm in winter and cool
in summer, is a suitable place. A supply of fresh water near at hand
and a drain are convenient.
All the operations can be done in tight, clean wooden barrels, preferably
oak, having a capacity of from 40 to 60 gallons. When not
in use the barrels should be kept clean and full of water. Half
barrels and wooden or fiber buckets are useful for many purposes.
Iron containers should never be used. Tools useful in tanning are
shown in figure 1.
TANNING HIDES AND SKINS FOR LEATHER
The kind of leather which can be made from a hide or skin depends
largely upon the weight and size of the hide or skin. In the tanning
trade distinctions in hides and skins are based mainly upon the size
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Rogers, J. S. (Jerome Stanley), b. 1884 & Clarke, Ira D. (Ira Doup), 1890-. Home Tanning of Leather and Small Fur Skins., book, February 1962; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1786/m1/5/: accessed December 4, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.