KAW

Making Rawhide Lesson

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Here are some pictures of making a hide the other day

hide on the hoof.

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skinning

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hair slipping tools

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fleshing beam

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hide ready to be fleshed

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fleshing

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dehairing

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have to finish in another post

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here are the rest of the photos

streching materials

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ready to streach

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streched

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drying

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cured

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Edited by KAW

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I think I understand the process a little better, now, looking at the pics. I knew there was a lot of work in making rawhide! It would be great if you would add a little more description of what you do, and why, because it looks like you have the whole thing down to a T. How many hides do you use in a month? Where do you get your raw hides from? Pardon my ignorance, but I'm used to leather & rawhide coming off a store shelf, and I'd love to learn more about your methods, if you have time to explain.

Johanna

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Johanna, I'm pretty sure that hide came from the cow out in the field with that (Oh S**T) look on it's face...LOL

Very interesting to actually see all that is entailed in the making of rawhide. Thanks for the look see.

Ken

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Hey Kevin, Thanks for the pics. Does your fleshing beam have an arch to it and are you using a draw blade to flesh? How long do you cook the hide and what is the temp? I can review the tapes of Vince but since I have you here I'll just ask you. It seems a lot faster than liming the hide and a lot easier. It looks like a hereford have you ever gotten any brangus? Those thick necks sure mess up a hide! They drive me crazy. I get my hides from a packing house so I have to wait until the breed comes in that I want and I can pick it hide on hoof and come back after they skin it. They don't do as good a job skinning so I have quite a bit of fleshing left to do. I did a horse that had been down for half a day last winter and the blood had pooled on one side. It colored the hide actually pretty nicely! I'm not in the position to do it with a cow but you might give it a try. I'll try and get pics of the 2 different sides to show how it colored the hide. Johanna, I'll try to explain a little and Kevin can correct me if I get anything wrong. The cow in the first pic supplied the hide. Kevin skinned it trying to leave as little meat and fat on the hide as possible without cutting or nicking the skin. The he finished fleshing or removing fat and meat with the hide stretched out on that beam. Next he 'cooked' the hide in the 50 gal barrel set on the tire rim with the propane tank in water. Near as I can tell this is a technique Vince Donely came up with (not sure where Vince got onto it) Being careful to not actually cook the hide just heat it enough so that the pores open up and the hair "slips" out easily. He slipped the hair using a stick and pushed the hair right out of the follicle. Next he stretched the hide in the hoop frame and let it dry to cure. And 'Viola' RAWHIDE. The old standard technique involves "cooking" the hide in a lime bath for a few days, then neutralizing the lime in a vinegar bath for another few days (all this while you have to keep stirring every so often) then slipping the hair off and stretching in frame and drying and (a week or so later) 'Viola' RAWHIDE. There was also the just flesh it stretch it and dry scrape all the hair off method and that is what the Dorrances did. I've done one that way too and it is a lot of scraping and you have to get it done before the hide 'wrinkles' in the frame to do a really good job. My friend Barry Cox has his frame in an old barn held rigid between two post and scrapes on a hide for months because the frame doesn't give and the hide hardly wrinkles. Making leather is done with the lime method and then you use tannic acid from the bark of an oak tree and it takes about 5 - 6 months. Making your own rawhide is definitely better than buying lace from a production source. It is labor intensive but you can control the whole process. In any gear that you make; the better the quality of the raw materials the better your end project CAN be it is then up to the artist to work their magic as Kevin does so well!

Vaya con Dios, Alan Bell

Wake up and turn me loose, for the rain is falling
Bob Marley

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Johanna,

Alan explained it pretty well

Alan,

The beam I use has a slight crown to it and yes I use a draw knife to flesh with.

Up here there isn't many Brangus and i dont use the neck in my braiding but it make some nice knife sheaths and other projects.

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It varies from hide to hide, weather and elevation but from 136 to 140 and from 6 to 10 minutes and you have to watch it close you can ruin a hide very quickly if your not paying attention moving the hide seems to help some, this method of making rawhide has been around for along time just alot of people didn't know about it and those that did didn't say much, a thanks to Donely for sharing, it is by far the best, fastest and cleanest way to make rawhide for braiding that I have found if done right. I have a couple of hides like you mentioned and they make some very unique looking pieces! The scraping method works well for good using gear but for collecter pieces it leave to much of a stuble when you are cutting string down to a 64th of an inch, Bill Black uses that method and makes some nice work!! The hides when useing that method should be streched as tightly as possible.The better quality of materials makes it alot easier to make HIGH QUALITY gear that will last!

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Great pictures! What did you make your drying hoop out of, and is there any tendency for it to pull crooked while drying?

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The pictures and explanation on making rawhide are interesting. I have a couple more questions. It doesn't rot? Does the temperature or weather or anything matter when you are letting the raw hide dry and cure? You don't have to put anything on it? The other question is about the thickness of the hide. When you are done stretching it, is it fairly even? Is that something you take care of when preparing the strings for braiding?

You guys that braid rawhide must have an endless amount of patience but you sure turn out some awesome work.

Clay

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I make rawhide all the time, but this is a new method to me.

Clarifying: You have the water at 136 to 140 degree Farenheit first. Then you put the hide in the hot water for 6 to 8 minutes. Right?

You say you have to watch it carefully. What are you watching for? How do you know when enough is enough? How does it ruin the hide? How large a hide can you do at one time? You have a picture of a stick you use to scrape the hair off. Any particular shape to it? Could you use something metal, like the side of a rasp, to do this?

Thanks, Rod.

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Waddy,

I made the hoop out of the end of a big spool the phone co uses for fiber optic cable it was inch square tubing I just cut the ends out, the ends of an old round bale feeder works pretty good too. I have had some heavy hides in them and they have never tweeked.

Clay B,

I try to make most of my hides in warm weather I dont like them to freeze when they are green and they are hard to cure out when it is cold they may take till spring to dry sometimes. If it is really hot they can spoil fast if you don't get to them fast enough. I split my hides after I cut them into a long string.Some hides vary greatly and others dont such as Herefords are quite thick and Lonnghorns are usally alot thiner, the age and sex of a critter has alot to do with it too. I don't put anything on them until I start braiding then I will use soap then when I am finished with a project I will use white saddlesoap ar vaquaro rawhide cream from ray holes but on a reata I use beef tallow.

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Rod,

You need a green hide fleshed, you will have to play with the temps and time as to your location and hides, when the hair slips on the back and near the star in a hereford usally it is time some thicker hides alittle longer if it starts to srivel and starts to curl up then you usally have ruined it and you need to constantly move the hide in the water. Anything to push the hair of will work just not to sharp if done correctly you can push it off buy hand and another nice thing is you can do more than one hide at a time this way and usally by the time you flesh a hide the water is at temp, if you try this get a digital thermometer like this4_459.jpg they are very acurrate

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Kevin, are you using a Hansen string cutter? Sharon had one made for her that incorporated a calipered dial to adjust the width for cutting and beveling. When she beveles she noticed that once you take off one corner when you turn the string around it takes off a little less on the other side, so she can turn the knob one mm or so and take off the same bevel. Also, do you dye before or after you cut string? and are you using Ritz too? This is great stuff! I'll have to get a honda from you to add to my collection, Sharon got me started on it she has a honda collection and I owe one to Vince for the one he sent me. I'll braid one up for you too if your interested we can trade.

Vaya Con Dios, Alan Bell

Old Pirates,yes, they rob I, sold I to the merchant ships, minutes after they took I from the bottomless pit
Bob Marley

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Alan,

I use a cutter that Wayne Jueschke out of Elko made for me about 10 years ago he doesn't make it any more.4_552.jpg

This is the splitter I use the most Monty Servere made it and he doesn't make this one anymore either4_058_1.jpg

I also use an old Osborne but it needs some work to the blade it has quite a dish in it after a hundred years

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I use both natural and Ritz dyes and I like to dye before I cut my strings.

We could work something out on a trade.

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KAW;

This is really fasinating stuff, very enjoyable. Couple of questions;

I have heard that old skinny jersey cows make the best rawhide. Any truth to that?

Also, I have a riata that needs some dressing/conditioning. I see that you use beef tallow. Do you need to do anything to it before you using it?

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Mudman

Old skinny cows make nice tight grained rawhide but on range cows alot of times they will have a brand or two to go around and quite a few wire scars so you have to be real carful when cutting your string if you get a good one they won't have much fat to flesh and will be suitable thickness for a reata . As far as the old skinny jersey old timers like them for ropes because they were usally milkcows with a pretty posh life and were tight grained, usally didn't have to many scars and were kind of pets and were usally pretty old when they died and were fairly big even hides that could make a lenthy reata, but they are alittle tough to get anymore. I like grass fat range cows for working gear and 7 to 900lb yearlings off grass for finer gear but they are sometimes hard to comeby.

You can use white feibings saddle soap if you dont have tallow, you have to render the fat so it doen't get rancid, work it in to the rope real good by hand on a warm day and let it soakin then I use liver to seal it and that helps alot to not pick up alot of dirt in use it is an old method but works good for me, main thing with a reata is not to let it get to dry or it will start to dry rot and that aint a good thing. After it has been braided and streched it should be broke in I run it through some holes or around a post til I get it feelin the way I want it. There is alot more to work making a good usable reata than just braiding 4 or 6 strands. Alot of people think that a reata sould be their first project when really it should be their last. A reata sould have the best of the best hide in it and is like anything else the better the quality of starting materials the better the end product and the longer it sould last with proper care.

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Hi! I live on a dairy farm and I tan a lot of my own leather. This includes Raw Hide. I found Jersey cows make the best raw hide as the hide is fairly thin and even. I put the hide in Lime and water until the hair starts to slip (around 3-4 days) then on to a fleshing beam. I use an old concrete cattle trough turned upside down. I'm not overly fussed on getting all the flesh off as when the hide is on the drying rack and is dry I use a sander to take what flesh is left off. After all the hard work is done I then put the hide in water and vinegar for 24hrs. Than I put it on to a drying rack. I veg tan all my own roo hide but that is fairly indeath. I have been doing this for over 7 years now so if anyone has any Q please feel free to ask.

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Whipit,

I would sure be interested in hearing how you do your own veg tanning if you have time to explain it sometime. I am sure there are a few others that might be interested too.

Welcome to leatherworker.net. Glad to have you with us.

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Can someone explain why you don't want the hides salted to make rawhide from them. What does salting do to damage the hide for making rawhide? I (Denise) am curious about this fact.

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Rod & Denise

The reason you don't use salted hides for raw hide is that salt draws out the natural 'glue' in the hide. This 'glue' is what gives raw hide what I call life (stiffness).

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Hi! I live on a dairy farm and I tan a lot of my own leather. This includes Raw Hide. I found Jersey cows make the best raw hide as the hide is fairly thin and even. I put the hide in Lime and water until the hair starts to slip (around 3-4 days) then on to a fleshing beam. I use an old concrete cattle trough turned upside down. I'm not overly fussed on getting all the flesh off as when the hide is on the drying rack and is dry I use a sander to take what flesh is left off. After all the hard work is done I then put the hide in water and vinegar for 24hrs. Than I put it on to a drying rack. I veg tan all my own roo hide but that is fairly indeath. I have been doing this for over 7 years now so if anyone has any Q please feel free to ask.

I would be interested in hearing how you tan your own leather. I have a book, "tan yur hide" about home tanning solutions. It seems like you need a lot of chemicals that I would not know where to buy them. What do you use?

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Howdy Rookie here. Newbi to the max !!! I read several books so decided to try my hand at drying some rawhide. Got a hide from the butcher last thursday took it and stretched it out on a tarp for a couple hours. Cut as much of the fat off as I thought I could, then cut about a 2 1/2 inch strip around and around for about 80 foot. I now have it hanging between a couple of post. Its getting very ripe smelling, maggots ect....... From what I'm seeing here I've done it all wrong. LOL I thought I read where ya cut it into a long strip then let nature take its course so thats what I'm doing. Will this work or should I trash it and start over???

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Howdy Rookie here. Newbi to the max !!! I read several books so decided to try my hand at drying some rawhide. Got a hide from the butcher last thursday took it and stretched it out on a tarp for a couple hours. Cut as much of the fat off as I thought I could, then cut about a 2 1/2 inch strip around and around for about 80 foot. I now have it hanging between a couple of post. Its getting very ripe smelling, maggots ect....... From what I'm seeing here I've done it all wrong. LOL I thought I read where ya cut it into a long strip then let nature take its course so thats what I'm doing. Will this work or should I trash it and start over???

It's hard to say. When you wrap your strip around the post make sure that you're not overlapping I believe that will lead to rotting. As long you have air circulating on both side you should be fine. I've never tried cutting into strips like you did. The best rawhide I've made has come from heating some water and putting the hide in the warm water and then you can scrape it off. KAW has a tutorial on here.

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Well I got one 3 inch about 30 foot long stinky mess finally hair free and hanging in my garage to dry. The really long strip is still in a 5 gal bucket and needs the hair scraped off it, how long is to long for hide to sit in water?? I'm about to give up on this first try at making rawhide and just go buy another hide but I hate to quit on it since if nothing else it would let me see if the tools that I'm going to make work before trying them out on good stuff. I've got a long 2 inch stirp that I had hanging for a week, still has hair on it but the maggots have ate most of the fat off. Right now I have it in a bucket of water so that I can try and cut the hair off but how long is to long for it to be in water?? And do ya think I could go ahead and put some lime in it to get the hair off that way since from what I'm reading that makes it pretty much fall off. Or I'm I just :deadsubject: whipping a dead horse so to speak ?

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Plan B is now in progress since my plan A didn't work. I went and got another hide today since my first attempt at making rawhide was a flop. Live and learn and I'm excited to see if this second effort produces good results. I've read alot of your post and I made me a

8X8 frame out of 2 X4's and I put the hide into that stretching it out as much as I could. I then let it sit for a little while, then cut and scraped off most of the fat. :helpsmilie: At this point there was a stiff darker covering on some of the hide was I suppose to try and get that off also? I scraped at it but it wouldn't come off, so my hide after I scraped it doesn't look all white like yours does.

Ok now the hide is in a trash can with lime, I covered it with a lid should I have done that or does it really matter? So now I'm waiting for the lime to take effect so that I can continue on. Is what I've done so far sounding OK??

Thanks Annette :evillaugh: can't wait to finally get to braid, gosh if I can't get this rawhide made right I'll never get to learn braiding. No wonder this is a lost art.

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Plan B is now in progress since my plan A didn't work. I went and got another hide today since my first attempt at making rawhide was a flop. Live and learn and I'm excited to see if this second effort produces good results. I've read alot of your post and I made me a

8X8 frame out of 2 X4's and I put the hide into that stretching it out as much as I could. I then let it sit for a little while, then cut and scraped off most of the fat. :helpsmilie: At this point there was a stiff darker covering on some of the hide was I suppose to try and get that off also? I scraped at it but it wouldn't come off, so my hide after I scraped it doesn't look all white like yours does.

Ok now the hide is in a trash can with lime, I covered it with a lid should I have done that or does it really matter? So now I'm waiting for the lime to take effect so that I can continue on. Is what I've done so far sounding OK??

Thanks Annette :evillaugh: can't wait to finally get to braid, gosh if I can't get this rawhide made right I'll never get to learn braiding. No wonder this is a lost art.

That's just part of the process. I have ruined many good hide. It's a lot of trial and error type of thing. It sounds like you're doing it right this time. I think in a couple days the hair should start to slip. Then once you get it all off you'll want to rinse it out really good and let it soak for 24 hours in about a gallon of vinegar to neutralize the hide. I usually have trouble with fleshing the hide. Some say that you can use a fleshing beam when it's fresh off the cow and get all those little bits off before you do anything else. It's never really worked for me. There's some good videos on youtube if you haven't checked there.

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