Learning to tan and do it well generally takes quite a bit of practice, regardless of the method used, so be prepared to have a few failed attempts before you really feel comfortable doing this. No formula is foolproof and you’ll have to figure out what works best for you and makes you most comfortable. If you have experience with deer or squirrel hides (which are thicker and easier to work with), you may have an easier time with this…but do keep in mind that rabbit skin is very thin and prone to tearing.
There are tanning kits available commercially that will provide you with everything you need to do this process. But since they can be pricey and you’ll be doing this often, here’s a few methods to use that are similar to what you’d find in these kits. Aside from braining of course.
There are lots of different ways to tan hides and “recipes” to use. I’ve provided six options here so that you can select the method that you are most comfortable with. After you’ve tried them a bit, you will likely be able to make your own modifications based on your own personal preferences.
- Wood ash tanning is one of the easiest and most sustainable for rabbit hides, and it requires little effort as well as keeps the hide from breaking (which can happen if you only air dry). It will also help reduce any smell and help the pelt dry faster. But it may stain light pelts and you’ll then need to take a blow dryer when the fur is dry so that you can remove the ash.
- Tannin tanning is also quite simple if you’ve got tea(not herbal), fresh leaves or tree bark around to use.
- Brain tanning offers a simple old-fashioned, sustainable process for those who are more adventurous and remember to save their brains! Usually one brain is enough for to tan one pelt.
- Salt and alum tanning is the least expensive method of the chemical methods and probably the most common of the three but produces a slightly harder pelt that often needs to be worked a few times before it is pliable.
- Salt and acid produces a softer and more workable pelt than salt and alum but one has to be extremely careful when working with acid.
- Alcohol and turpentine tanning is a simple but less common method which is actually best suited for small fur skins like rabbits.
There are also methods to use vegetable tannins for tanning but it generally requires a very long investment of time to get satisfactory results. Commercial leather manufactures usually use chromium salts (chrome tan) for tanning.