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meecesaddlery

Making Bear Skin Chaps? Any Tips?

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I have received two small bear skin hides from a customer who wants them made into chinks. I have not made any before or woolies so advice would be appreciated. My plan is to make a base from light chap leather and glue and sew the bear skin to it then apply yokes, side pieces, etc. Ones I have seen appeared to be this way as the bear skin did not wrap completely around the leg but stopped at about the inner pant seam line. Does this sound right and would work well? Is there anything else I might not be thinking of that someone who has done this can advise? I do know I will have to shave down the hair under yokes, etc. to glue like with hair on cowhide but there is always little things that come up in new projects. I also attached the 1st yoke I just finished tooling. Still needs dyeing, antiquing, etc. but comments are welcome on it too.

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Edited by meecesaddlery

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I'd love to see pictures when it's complete. I've never seen anything made with bear hide.

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I have a bear. I killed it in Alaska...How'd they get these?

Can't wait to see this.

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Have made shotguns and chinks with bearskin and in both cases, bearskin was heavy enough to carry it's part but could be lined, if necessary. Your observation is correct in that hair doesn't extend under leg. For me both required a pieced approach. First a full sized paper pattern; next, carefully determine extent of hair, in my experience in addition to under the leg, the yokes were the upper extent; thus a pieced pattern with overlapping pieces of full weight chap leater results. Don't forget the fringe (which is actually functional-promotes rain water drainage.) Hair piece is 1" larger around and sewn to rest of assembly on top of other pieces. I took scissors and clipped hair off of a 1" edge around and was able to get hair to cover up all but the top seam and that was the exception to the on top rule as it underlapped the yokes. This 'sheared' hide was larger than 1" and went clear up to the top. Again if the skin was not strong enough, this part could be lined. A word; bear (and dog) skin, unless burned out in tanning, are incredibly strong so it will not require lining for strength, only for drape so be careful not to end up with something too stiff and heavy and oh yeah, when wet they are very heavy but can really turn the winter cold if kept dry. Another word: bearskin chinks can be a bit counterproductive if made with the full sized skin overlay approach. IOW too hot for summer use. If possible, ask customer to think it through carefully and balance with what intended use is.

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I was the Chief of Instructor of the Marine Corps Mule packing program in the Eastern Sierras and the customer that sent the hides was a corpsman for a different course. He killed one bear in California and the he ended up with two hides because the tanner felt bad about the one he brought not turning out right. Both where small black bears. Alaska brown or blacks are probably large enough to make from one hide. lol

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He is on a ranch in Northern Nevada and it definitely can get downright cold but I don't really think he is going to wear these for any ranch work. I hear ya on the counter productive but you know how people think. Since I moved back to Texas I have tried to convince people that chinks are a lot cooler in the summer but every one wants shotguns in these parts. I just cant understand wearing shotguns when its 110! I'm going to examine the hides this morning and decide whether to piece them together or line.

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Thank you oltoot for posting such detailed information about using bearskin. Just this week I had a fellow bring me a tanned bearskin with a request to make him a pair of shotgun chaps. I did a good deal of sweating/thinking about this project, but now armed with your

info things are beginning to come together. I've made quite a number of chinks, chaps & armitas, but this bearskin will be something really new.

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One more tip. If they are to be for serious winter use, remember to size full for fitting over winter clothing and just a dab short if hair is long so they won't drag in mud/snow on the ground.

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I've just recently completed a pair of bear skin chinks/chaps. I'm hoping the attached photo turns out. I've had some issues with resizing the photo. The bear skin my friend supplied was just, just big enough for the project. Thanks again to Oltoot for the hints.

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I've just recently completed a pair of bear skin chinks/chaps. I'm hoping the attached photo turns out. I've had some issues with resizing the photo. The bear skin my friend supplied was just, just big enough for the project. Thanks again to Oltoot for the hints.

If your software gives you a choice, resize to 800 pixels wide or file size about 150 kB. This one is too small to see any detail.

Tom

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Well, I've tried resizing this pic again. Not sure I've got it right yet. I did say in my first post that I had completed these chink/chaps, but I do have some tweeking to do. He was to use them last week and then get back to me about adjustments, but I haven't heard from him yet. I'm calling them chink/chaps because they are chink length, but have a full wrap around leg. Then there's the issue of winter clothing and winter boots, so I think I may have some adjusting.

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