How to Tan a Squirrel Pelt

By G.K. Bayne

The art of tanning a squirrel pelt, or any animal hide, is almost a lost talent in today's world. Squirrel pelts were known in days gone by as a long wearing, durable leather that was sewn into patterns to make coats and other winter wear.

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Step 1

Prepare the pelt by scraping away as much visible meat and flesh as possible. A dull knife can be used, as it will scrape the hide without nicking.

Step 2

Make a solution of 5 cups of salt to 1 gallon of water in a 5-gallon bucket. Submerse the pelt in the salt solution for 24 hours. Scrape away any remaining flesh and membrane after the soaking time.

Step 3

Make your tanning solution. Begin with 2 lbs. of salt to 4 gallons of water. Stir it to dissolve the salt completely. In a separate container, mix 2 lbs. of alum in just enough water to dissolve and mix thoroughly. Add this to the salt mixture.

Step 4

Place the scraped pelt into the tanning solution. Allow it to sit for 24 hours, but stir it at least twice a day.

Step 5

Remove from solution and rinse the entire pelt under clear water. Hang the pelt, fur side up over a banister or railing out of direct sunlight. Let it hang for several days.

Step 6

Roll up the hide, by folding flesh sides together and let it sit overnight.

Step 7

Work the hide over a straight edge to soften the leather. Patio railings or table edges work well for this process.

Step 8

Work Neat's Foot or other leather lubricants into the leather with your fingers; this insures the tanned hide is both soft and pliable. Use a dog brush or other comb to work out any mats or tangles on the fur side of the hide.