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Go ahead and tan it yourself! It is amazing to watch this wet, sometimes unappealing, mass of skin transform into a beautiful and useful material --- and do it in your own backyard with simple tools.

You can make soft, washable leather with emulsified oils and wood smoke. This is commonly known as brain, smoke or Indian tanning. Animal brains are traditionally used as the source of emulsified oils, hence the name, but you can also use eggs or a mixture of soap and oil. Brain tan is ideal for clothing, bags, beadwork and all kinds of things (such as shoe-laces, pot holders, hair ties, holding parts of your truck together).
Hides can also be tanned by soaking them in tannic acids derived from tree barks and certain plants. This is known as bark tan. Bark tan makes a firm, solid, waterproof leather that is useful for saddles, holsters, belts, rifle cases, shoulder bags and the like.

We've also got detailed tutorials on how to obtain, skin and store your hides as well as advice on how and where to learn the skills.

to traditional,
 natural, hide tanning.

Bark Tanning

17 pages of instruction
& resources.

History of Brain Tanning

a six page article



Caring for Your Hides


The quality of your finished buckskin starts with the quality of skinning and storage of your hides. Here are detailed, step-by-step tutorials to help you take care of your hides, right from the start.





Learn How to Tan


Tanning isn't complicated but it is precise. There are some excellent books, videos and instructors that can make all of the difference. There are also some books and videos that are nowhere near complete enough. Here are our recommendations.


How to

Learn How


Recommended books & videos

n OK books
n Not so good books



Wet scrape vs.

Dry scrape