Rawhide is animal hide that has not been tanned. When animal hide is removed very soon after the animal's death it is called "green hide." This is the best hide from which to make rawhide. The process of making rawhide requires cleaning the hide and removing the hair. The skin is scraped, soaked and stretched as it dries. Among many uses, rawhide can be used to make laces, saddles, cattle or horse tools, and drum skins. Here are a few steps that will come in handy when working on this interesting project.
Things You'll Need
- Heavy shears
- Keen-edged knife
- Saddle soap
- Post or sawhorse
Find an area that will be shaded for about two hours. Pull the hide outward from the center to stake it properly. In two hours, the green hide will transform to rawhide. The hide will be stiff, which makes it easier to work with.
Cut off any hanging flesh. Cut the hide into an oval or round shape. Remove all projecting areas, such as the legs or neck.
Cut the disc-shaped hide in one continuous strip that is about 2 1/2 inches in width. Scissor around the disc until you reach the center. At thinner areas, make the strip wider. When the strip dries, it will shrink by about 1/3. If you have trouble cutting, dampen the hide.
Tie or otherwise attach one end of the strip to a post. Pull the strip tight, section by section. Using a sharp-edged knife, strip off the hair, holding the blade nearly flat against the hide. Be careful not to cut the top skin (scarf skin). This is what gives rawhide strength.
Stretch the rawhide between two posts or tress in total shade. Allow to dry for five days. When dried, you can cut it into smaller strips.
Bevel the strings on the hair side to keep the strings from curling. If you want to soften the rawhide, rub well with saddle soap or yellow laundry soap, working the strips against a post or sawhorse.
Tips & Warnings
- The method outlined is for rawhide strips, but can be performed on larger pieces of hide.