Monday, March 29, 2010

Buckskin - Overview and Steps 1 and 2

The sugaring season is over.  The taps have been pulled, the buckets cleaned, and the gear stored for next year.  We were fortunate enough to boild down about 6 quarts of syrup and we have the maple brew fermenting.

With the warmer weather, I have continued the MooseBoots journey by continuing the work on all of the hides I was given last year.  It is a lot of work and I have hides in various states of completion.

According to Tom Brown, the steps to making buckskin are:
  1. Skinning
  2. Soaking (optional, hair off only)
  3. Fleshing
  4. Racking
  5. De-Hairing (optional, hair off only)
  6. Scraping
  7. Braining
  8. Stretching
  9. Buffing
  10. Smoking
1.  Skinning
Most of us never experience first hand the process of skinning an animal.  If you want to get intimately familiar with the whole process, I would recommend it.  Of course, every animal is a bit different, but there are primarily two methods, split or cased.  Casing an animal is like pulling a sweater off of it.  It is done by slicing around the legs and slit up to the abdomen.  After that the skin peels off like a tube.  Large animals are typically split up each leg and then "neck to nether regions."  Use a knife only in stuck spots after the initial cuts otherwise you could inadvertantly damage the hide ... no bonus points for extra holes on this.  When you are done, you should end up with something that looks like:

This deer hide, from the road crossing impaired deer, has been soaking in the brook for about a week.  Don't worry it will clean up.  Of course, if you start with a chipmunk skin, your skin may look much smaller, so don't email me that your hide doesn't look like this one.

2.  Soaking
The soaking step is merely to loosen up the hair, if you are going to remove it.  I soaked the hide above because I planned to remove the hair.  I have read of many different things to soak the hide in - lye/wood ash solutions, running water, chemicals, etc.  I am trying to make this a naturally as possible, so I used the brook behind my house.  I have tried wood ash solutions, but really didn't find that it worked any better than the running water.

I will continue this in a few days.  As I stated, I have hides in various stages although most are salted and stored so that they didn't rot before I got to them.  I am fortunate to have them and would hate to waste them.

Of course, when this buckskin is complete, I will have re-gained knowledge, but will it qualify as a step toward my MooseBoots object given that it is deer hide?


  1. It will only qualify toward your mooseboots journey if you make your loving wife a pair of deer hide boots - women's size 8 ... preferrably with a removable rabbit skin lining ... ;).

  2. Do you have any concerns of animals taking the hide away while it's soaking? Would a hide be of any interest to a raccoon or fisher or skunk? I'm really enjoying watching over your shoulder - thanks for starting the blog and sharing with us. ;}

  3. Wendy, we'll work together on this, I think.

    Hope, I have yet to have any thieves. The hide is fully submersed and so there is no smell. We do have all three of those critters in the woods behind the house. I would expect them to start with one of the moose hides ... they are readily accessible to any animals. Oh, your welcome, of course it was with some hesitation and much encouragement (spelled p-r-o-d-d-i-n-g) from a wise woman in my life ... but, it is great to be able to share my MooseBoots journey.

  4. Just found you blogging (I read most blogs in my reader, so I didn't see the link to you!) Welcome to the blogosphere!

  5. Rach, welcome to MooseBoots. How did sugaring go this year for you guys?


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