How to Make Deer Hide Into Leather

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Deer hide can be turned into soft leather.
Deer hide can be turned into soft leather. (Image: deer image by Joan Stanton from Fotolia.com)

Turning animal hide into leather has been practiced for many years in different cultures, including the Native Americans. The most commonly used leather is made out of cattle skin, but many other animals are used for various types of leather products. Deer skin is often used to make softer leather, and most deer leather is now produced from farms where deer are bred primarily for their skins. However, many are still obtained from the wild, tanned and turned into a variety of products.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic trash can
  • Plastic bucket
  • Quart of lime
  • 10 gallons of water
  • Sawhorse
  • Large knife
  • Bar of soap
  • Double boiler
  • Tacks
  • Sandpaper

Mix 10 gallons of water and a quart of lime in a large plastic container; a trash can is ideal. Put the deer hide into the mixture and allow it to soak for two to four days. This will loosen the hair and skin and make the easier to remove.

Take the deer hide out of the mixture and rinse well. Place the hide on a sawhorse and scrape the hide to remove the hair and skin using a large knife. Don't scrape too deep or you will put holes in the hide. Scrape the other side of the hide to remove any membranes and skin. This process is called "fleshing" the hide. Once all the hair and skin has been removed, hang the hide for 24 hours.

Melt a bar of soap in a double boiler and mix it with water in a plastic bucket or trash can. Place the deer hide into the mixture, and work the soap and water into the hide with your hands. Allow it to soak for 24 hours.

Remove the hide from the soap mixture and rinse well. Hang it or lay it flat. Tack the sides down and allow it to dry for 24 hours.

Soften the hide. This can be done while the hide is still damp. Using sandpaper, rub the entire hide until it's uniformly a white color. You can also use a large stick with a tapered end to rub and soften the hide, but sandpaper will produce more even-toned results.

Tips & Warnings

  • The longer you soak the deer hide in the lime solution, the easier the hair and skin will come off.

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