Animal skin tanning



_Sheep Skins._

The skins, smeared with quicklime on the fleshy side, are folded lengthways, the wool outwards, and laid on heaps, to ferment 8 days; or if they had been left to dry after flaying, for 16 days.

Then they are washed out, drained, and half dried; laid on a wooden horse, the wool stripped off with a round staff for the purpose, and laid in a weak pit of slacked lime.

After 24 hours they are taken out, and left to drain 24 more; then put into another strong pit. Then they are taken out, drained, and put in again by turns; which begins to dispose them to take oil; and this practice is continued for 6 weeks in summer, or 3 months in winter; at the end whereof they are washed out, laid on the wooden horse, and the surface of the skin on the wool side peeled off, to render them the softer; then made into parcels, steeped a night in the river, in winter more, stretched 6 or 7, one over another on the wooden horse, and the knife passed strongly on the fleshy side, to take off anything superfluous, and render the skin smooth.

Then they are stretched, as before, in the river, and the same operation repeated on the wool side; then thrown into a tub of water and bran, which is brewed among the skins till the greater part sticks to them; and then separated into distinct tubs, till they swell, and rise of themselves above the water.

By these means, the remains of the lime are cleared out; they are then wrung out, hung up to dry on ropes, and sent to the mill, with the quantity of oil necessary to fill them; the best oil is that of cod-fish.

Here they are first thrown in bundles into the river for 12 hours, then laid in the mill-trough, and fulled without oil, till they are well softened; then oiled with the hand, one by one, and thus formed into parcels of 4 skins each, which are milled, and dried on cords a second time, then a third, then oiled again and dried.

This is reseated as often as necessary; when done, if any moisture remains they are dried in a stove, and made up in parcels wrapped up in wool; after some time they are opened to the air, but wrapped up again as before, till the oil seems to have lost all its force, which it ordinarily does in 24 hours.

_To Scour the Skins._

The skins are now returned to the chamoiser, to be scoured, by putting them into a lixivium of wood-ashes, working and beating them in it with poles, and leaving them to steep till the lye has had its effect, then wrung out, steeped in another lixivium, wrung again, and this repeated till the grease and oil are purged out. They are then halfdried, and passed over a sharp-edged iron instrument, placed perpendicularly in a block, which opens and softens them; lastly, they are thoroughly dried, and passed over the same instrument again, which finishes the operation

_Kid and Goat Skins._

Kid, and goat skins, are chamoised in the same manner as those of sheep, excepting that the hair is taken off by heat: and that when brought from the mill they undergo a preparation galled ramaling, the most difficult of all.

It consists in this, that as soon as brought from the mill they are steeped in a fit lixivium; taken out, stretched on a round wooden leg, and the hair scraped off with the knife; this makes them smooth, and in working cast a fine nap. The difficulty is scraping them evenly.

_To Dress Hare, Mole, or Rabbit Skins._

Take a teaspoonful of alum, and 2 of saltpetre, both finely powdered; mix them well, sprinkle the powder on the flesh side of the skins, then lay the two salted sides together, leaving the fur outward; roll the skin exceedingly tight, and tie it round with pack-thread; hang it in a dry place for some days, then open it, and if sufficiently dry scrape it quite clean with a blunt knife, and keep it in a dry situation. This finishes the process.

It may not be generally known, that the bitter apple bruised and put into muslin bags, will effectually prevent furs from being destroyed by moths.





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