The Difference Between Various Brain Tanning Methods: page 2
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In dry-scrape, the hide is dried out flat in a frame and the hair and grain are scraped off with an extremely sharp adze shaped tool. This method of scraping is what sets this technique apart from the others. The rest of the tanning process is pretty much the same. But how the scraping is done does have an influence on how the rest of the process goes and the final results. 

Most people find this method of scraping is harder and more time consuming, but that it gives you some advantages in the braining and softening stages. Its main advantage is that it allows you to thin the hide. Historically it was used to thin Buffalo hides and in many areas, Moose. It was less commonly used for tanning elk, and rarely used on deer except on the Northern Plains. 


  1. You can do it in your garage or basement without getting things wet (though you will still find hair in surprising places 20 years down the road). 
  2. Great aesthetic appeal for demonstrations, and easy to get people involved in, in a hands-on way. 
  3. Can thin out thick areas of the hide, making it especially practical for thinning hides like buffalo. Very practical for thinning the neck and rump of any thick hides you are tanning with the hair on such as bear.
  4. Good brain penetration.


  1. Requires a razor sharp tool. If you don't know how to sharpen well, you really need to learn how (though this is a good skill to learn anyways, it isn't something everyone readily picks up). 
  2. Easier to create holes, and holes tend to be bigger.
  3. Takes longer.
  4. In the woods, if it's not dry (or freezing cold for a frozen dry scrape) you 
    can't scrape. Whereas wetscrape can be done regardless of the weather.

dryscrapermed.JPG (13781 bytes) 4hidetools.jpg (42379 bytes)
Quality tool-steel dry-scrapers made by Mac Maness are available at the Store. Traditional elk antlered dry-scrapers made by Chris Hanson. The one on the far right has a flint blade.

Best Learning Resources: 

  1. Blue Mountain Buckskin by Jim Riggs
  2. The Ancient Art of Tanning Buckskin, a video by Robert Earthworm. 
  3. Also good: John McPherson's Brain Tan Buckskin.

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