MUSKRATS—HOW TO TAN—Please tell me how to tan muskrat skins without injuring the fur.
Make a tan liquid of 6 1/4 pounds of alum; 10 ounces of borax; 14 ounces of saltpeter and 6 1/2 pounds of salt; pulverize well and put into 20 quarts of sharp vinegar; stir until dissolved. A much smaller amount may be made if desired, but proportions should be as above. Soak the skins in this four hours, then rinse them in soft water and flesh them, by placing a skin, with fur on, on the fleshing beam, and fleshing over this. Then return them to the liquor and soak one hour; pull them out and let them drain a short time, then put them back for another hour. Muskrat skins will require three or four such soakings. Then remove them and wash in a solution made of four gallons of lukewarm water and one ounce of soda. Then rub the fur well with soap and wash clean. Then put them on the fleshing beam again and rub all the suds nut of them, and sponge onto the flesh side a little kerosene oil. Hang the skins in a shady place to dry and as soon as a dry spot appears pull it until it is soft. Never allow a skin to get hard; pull it and work it between the hands frequently while drying. When dry rub the flesh side smooth with a piece of pumice stone and pack the skins away, fur to fur, for two weeks, when they will have regained their bright and life-like appearance. Any kind of fur skin can be tanned by this method, but other skins do not need to be put into the tan liquor before fleshing. They may be snaked until perfectly soft in plain soft water and then fleshed clean. Heavier skins than muskrat require a longer time to tan and after they are tanned may require three or four applications of the oil.
Harding, A.R.. 3001 Questions and Answers. Columbus, Oh: A.R. Harding, 1913.
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