The Dinsmore's pre-smoking of wetscrape brain tanning, expanded to seven pages and revised Dec. 9, 1998
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The Presmoking Method

Revised and Expanded December 9, 1998

© 1998 SUNDOG TRADERS: Joseph Dinsmore & Victoria Longtrail D.




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A draw knife that is fairly dull, a utility knife, PVC pipe of 6" in diameter, a plastic garbage can, a 10 gallon plastic garbage pail, a pair of insulated rubber gloves for cold weather scraping (ones with long cuffs). Some sort of anti-bacterial soap for washing. Parachute cord, about 60' of it cut into 6' foot lengths. Glovers needles and artificial sinew or other strong thread. I have recently discovered a neat little tool I use during the softening process, it is used by trappers and is called a Yoho. It is a narrow little spade used for digging holes. I like the way it pulls on the hide more than any other tool I have tried. It makes it easy to work on the edges because it is narrow.

Frames made of 2x4's in various sizes. We put nails about every five inches around the outside of the frames to keep the cord from slipping out of place. Also make sure the ends of the boards extend about four inches beyond where they are connected, so when the frame is turned different ways, the outer nails are not flattened out.

Picking Hides to Tan

If you are new at tanning, we always recommend you begin with a doe hide or small buck that is not very thick. It is surprising how many inquiries we get about tanning elk for a first project. Choose hides that have been shot as few times as possible. The less holes the better. Also the way it was skinned is important. A pulled hide is ideal but most hides we get have been skinned with a knife. (see the Skinning tutorial for details). Avoid hides that have a lot of score marks. Avoid hides that already stink or have maggots on them. Fresh hides also often times still have ticks on them so watch out for that too.

Fleshing the Hide

A hide is always easiest to do when it is fresh or has been frozen. We use a PVC pipe to scrape on. It provides a smooth surface unlike a peeled log that will get nicks in it after a while and cause nicks in the hide as you dehair (ed. note: this is only a problem with certain types of wood). When fleshing, get the majority of the flesh and fat off. Cut off any long hanging down legs or pieces of skin to make the whole process easier. Often times we get special orders for hides that have the skin of the legs left on. As we're fleshing along the belly and find holes close to the edge, we always just go ahead and trim the hide back so that the holes are eliminated.

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