Leather is one of the most versatile materials in the world, and can be used for everything from clothing to various accessories. Today, almost all of the leather that we own is invariably bought from a shop or market.
This is because the art of leather making is not as widespread as it once was, and most leather is produced by factories. But learning how to make leather at home can be a cheap source of the material and allows you to create clothing and leather-related items as a fun and entertaining hobby.
The Right Hide
The first step in making leather is to acquire the right hide, and for starter purposes, cattle tend to be the cheapest and most abundant type of hide. It can be found at most tanneries and bought in bulk, but the price will depend on the quality of the hide.
Try to look for hide that has few scratches, scars, and marks, and the most popular types of hides tend to be either red or cream.
Prepare The Hide
Soak the hide in water overnight, which will make it more pliable. The soaked skin will be extremely heavy, and depending on how much is being soaked, it might be worth having a second person to help lift the heavy hide.
The overnight soak also makes all of the hair and attached flesh easier to take off with a knife.
Remove Flesh and Hair
Find a sharp drawknife or convex blade and begin slowly scraping the flesh off of the underside of the hide. It can take several hours to get all of it off, and it’s best to take as long as possible to avoid accidentally puncturing or cutting the skin.
Once that’s complete, the hide needs to be soaked again. This time in a solution of lime and water, and it’s important that the solution covers the entire hide. It will soak for one to two weeks in total – making it a good opportunity to catch up with other hobbies, such as online casino Singapore games – and during this time all of the hair that was attached to the skin will begin to fall away.
Tanning The Hide
The hide is then added to a large container or water, and will soak in a special “tea” that is made from either hemlock or oak bark. The skin will need to soak for roughly nine months, and during this time the acid in the bark will seep into the skin and slowly colour it and make it tougher.
It’s recommended to change the tea every three months or so by switching out the water and adding fresh bark.
Currying is the final part of the process, and involves tying ropes into the holes around the edge of the skin and fastening it tautly to a wooden frame.
Leave it until it’s almost dry, and then scrap both sides of the skin with a blunt blade or a rounded stick. The longer this done, the better the quality of the leather at the end.