Preparing deer hide for rawhide lace

Posted by RodandDenise on December 12, 2011

We are no longer building saddle trees, but we have two videos about how Western saddles fit horses available on our website.


We make our own deer hide lace from hides off deer harvested by local hunters, including Rod.  (Venison tastes good!)  Hunting season for deer closed the end of November, so this is the time of year he makes up the rawhide for the lace.


Deer hair is hollow with air in the middle.  This is great for insulation for the deer during the cold winter, but not so great if you are trying to soak the hides.  Unlike the hides of cattle, deer hides float.


So we have to weight them to keep the hide down in the water.  Five gallon pails filled with water on top of the hides do the trick.


Deer rawhide is made the same way cattle rawhide is made.  Then the hides are strung up to dry.  Rod puts one on each side of the two frames we have so we can dry four at a time.  Here he is taking the dried hides off the frames.


Then the rough edges are cut off


and he evaluates the hide by feel for areas that are too thin and need to discarded.  After that, he checks for thickness and consistency.


He cuts approximate circles out of areas of the same thickness so the lace from one circle will be as even as possible.  Thicker hide gets cut into thinner lace and vice versa.


Once the bigger sections have been removed, he cuts smaller circles from the parts remaining, since they are still useful, although a bit thinner.


Ta da!  All the circles from one hide, ready for making lace, brought to you by your friendly neighbourhood saddle tree maker!


I have had a difficult time removing the hair from a deer hide using lime in the watter, it has ben soaking in the solution for 12 days and very little of the hair has come loose.
the hide was salted down for several weeks prior to atempting to remove the hair could this be a problem? any sugestions would be welcome.
Posted by RodandDenise on 
Salt is used as a preservative for hides and needs to be totally removed from the hide before anything is done with it. That is why I have never used salted hides. The tanning companies have ways of washing the hides first and checking to make sure there is no salt left before they start their processes. I don't know that this is the problem, but it could be contributing to it.
Posted by ernest johnson on 
I use an old wringer washer to wash off salt in about 6 washes with clean water, when there is no salt in the water than you got most of it, the last wash I leave overnight before it goes into a lime bath, in a few days i throw the whole thing back into the ole washer and wash off lime same time removing the hair. you have clean hair to dispose and clean rawhide, any hair left can be removed by hand, let hair dry and braid it for other uses such as fly tying.
Posted by RodandDenise on 
Thanks for the further information, Ernest. I'm sure it will help someone out.

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