How to Make Fur Rugs

Animal fur makes a luxurious rug.
Animal fur makes a luxurious rug. (Image: red rose image by Alexandr Potapov from Fotolia.com)

There was once a time when every part of an animal was used for something, and nothing went to waste. If you enjoy hunting animals for meat, why not carry it a step further and learn how to make a fur skin rug? Fur is warm, luxurious and often expensive. Making your own fur rugs is more economical then buying them, and you waste less of the prey you harvest.

Things You'll Need

  • Fresh animal skin with fur
  • Large tub
  • Cold water
  • Granulated salt
  • 2 30-gallon trash cans
  • Dull knife or large spoon
  • Lukewarm water
  • Borax
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Long wooden stick
  • 2 large plastic containers (must hold at least 15 gallons)
  • 50 gallon wooden soaking barrel
  • Chrome alum
  • Soda ash
  • Salt
  • Scale
  • Neat’s foot oil
  • Household ammonia
  • Large glass jar
  • Paint brush
  • Large sheet of plastic
  • Stretcher or sheet of plywood
  • Rug backing
  • Pencil
  • Shears
  • Carpet tape
  • Heavy duty needle and strong thread
  • Brush

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Drying the Fur

Place the fresh animal fur in a tub and cover it with cold water to remove any remaining blood and to cool the hide. Lift out the animal fur and let the used water drain off.

Turn the animal fur over so that the side without the fur is facing up, and cover it completely with salt. Lay the animal hide out, salt-side up, on a flat surface to dry. Depending on the type and size, this could take up to two weeks.

Feel the drying hide. When it feels crisp, shake the salt off and hang it in the shade to finish air-drying.

Cleaning the Fur

Shake of any remaining salt from the hide and place it in a 30 gallon plastic trash can. Fill the trash can with clean cold water and let the hide soak. Change the water when it appears dirty, until the hide is clean and feels pliable.

Stretch the animal fur out flat again, with the skin side up, and scrape away any remaining flesh and fat with a large spoon, or a dull knife blade. Plunge in cold water again as needed, to clean away remaining particles and blood, then empty the 30 gallon trash can.

Re-fill the 30 gallon plastic trash can with lukewarm water, and add the borax and laundry detergent at a ratio of 1 ounce of each to every gallon of water needed to cover the animal hide. Push the hide under the solution with the long wooden stick and stir it around. Lift the hide out and scrape the skin side again to make it supple and make sure absolutely no fat or muscle remains.

Rinse the animal hide several times in lukewarm water, changing the water in the can as often as needed. Let the water drip off the animal hide. Squeeze gently to aid the process, but do not twist or wring the hide.

Nail the animal hide to a piece of plywood, or attach it to a hide stretcher and let it dry partially. While it is still slightly damp, remove it and work it back and forth over a wooden edge to soften it.

Prepare the Tanning Solution

Fill a plastic container with 3 gallons of clean, lukewarm water. Carefully stir in 3 ½ lbs. of soda ash and 6 lbs. of salt, and continue stirring until completely dissolved.

Fill the second container with 9 gallons of clean, lukewarm water. Carefully stir in 1 ½ lbs. of chrome alum until it is completely dissolved.

Slowly pour the salt solution into the container containing the chrome alum solution, stirring carefully the entire time. Put a cover on the solution until you need it.

Tanning the Fur

Run 32 gallons of lukewarm water into the wooden soaking barrel and add 4 gallons of the chrome alum/salt mixture. Stir until mixed. Push the animal hide into the solution until it is completely submerged. Soak it for 3 days, stirring several times a day.

Lift the hide out with the stick and add half of the remaining chrome alum/salt solution to the wooden barrel. Submerge the hide in the barrel again and soak another 3 days, stirring frequently. Repeat this process again after 3 days, adding the remaining solution, and soaking the hide another 3 days before removing it and rinsing it several times in cold water.

Add 1 lb. of borax to 20 gallons of lukewarm water in the second 30 gallon trash can. Submerge the animal hide for 24 hours, stirring it around frequently. Remove the animal hide and place it in clean, cold water for another 24 hours, changing the water at least 6 times during the process. Let the water drip from the animal hide.

Finishing the Fur

Weigh the animal fur and use that weight determine how much of each ingredient you will combine. For every 10 lbs. of animal hide you will need to add 3 ½ oz. of Neat’s foot oil and 10 oz. of household ammonia to 3 ½ oz. warm water in a large glass jar.

Coat the skin side of the animal fur with this mixture while the hide is still damp. Wait 30 minutes and apply the mixture again, then cover the fur with plastic and let it dry overnight.

Nail the animal hide to a piece of plywood, or attach it to a hide stretcher and let it dry partially. While it is still slightly damp, remove it and work it back and forth over a wooden edge to soften it.

Making the Rug

Lay the animal hide fur side up on a piece of rug backing and trace around it. Cut out the rug backing.

Attach the rug backing to the skin side of the animal hide with carpet tape to temporarily hold it in place.

Stitch the rug backing to the animal hide. Backstitch at the end, turn the rug over to the fur side, and use the brush to remove any articles and make the fur soft.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not use metal containers or utensils when mixing solutions to avoid reactions with the chemicals.

References

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