Beaver tail wallet in Exotics, Reptiles, Furs and others Posted September 10 · Report reply On 2/3/2021 at 10:12 AM, Kolton45 said: ... I'm also a trapper and have 4 beaver tails in trying to self tan. Do you have any tips on skinning the tails? I always mess up at the end where it gets real thin .. and how is the leather to work with? Hey, Kolton, I came to the forum to see what people have done with beaver tail leather, because I've just started working on my own beaver tail tanning and have to think up what to do with it. I know it's over a year after you asked your question, but I think I've figured out the answer, so thought I'd share: Two things to realize; first, it's better to think of the beaver tail scales like you would fur or fish-hide, than like regular leather. You don't want to thin down the skin backing of a fur until you reach the roots of the hairs. Likewise, while it seems like thinning the inside of the tail down until that blubbery stuff is gone would be the right way to get at the "leather," it leaves you with the thinnest membrane of dermis and almost all scale-epidermis, very brittle and stiff, prone to curl like fish-scales. The blubbery interior of the tail is odd stuff; it's an elastic collagen matrix filled with oil (solidifies at cool temperatures to seem like fat) and that's what makes it work so well as a paddle, conserving some of the energy from each stroke to drive the next stroke. That collagen matrix is the same stuff that makes up all leather, and the trick is to NOT focus on thinning it down, not at first; instead, focus on getting the oil out. Soak in degreaser, scrub, rinse; and then rather than trying to thin it, use a scraper more like a squeegee to pull the oil out. Some of the collagen matrix will come off with the oil; the collagen that doesn't scrape off with the oil is what actually counts as leather. As you get it more and more degreased, you'll start to feel the difference and probably see it, too. The not-leather is more crumbly and sort of yellow, and can continue feeling slimy-oily when the true leather does not. When it comes to the tail ends / edges, unless you're taxidermying, it's best to not worry about losing the very tip. Skinning it into two paddles is probably going to remain my preferred way of getting the most functional leather. The cut hide wants to tear along the edge like a zipper anyway. By the time you split it evenly, the end will thin down to that weak, stiff part. If you get a particularly fat beaver, it might be easier to get the end to split neatly in two, because that collagen layer will be thicker and easier to cut accurately; but there won't be any more collagen than if you caught a thin-tailed beaver. Trying to keep the tip intact is only worth bothering with if you care more about appearance than strength. If that is the case, one solution is to bond the scale-only end area to a thin leather liner, to prevent it from breaking as you work with the whole piece. Even if you want something that ends up shaped like beaver tail, you can always just let go of the last half-inch, round it off and no one will know the difference. As for how it is to work with, it's delightful to handle so far, but I haven't gotten to the point of making something yet--I can't wait to figure that part out!