How to Start a Hide-Tanning Business

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Taxidermists or hunters who haven’t the time or skill to tan their hides turn to tanneries, which use high-quality materials and techniques to convert the hides into soft, good-looking tanned furs, pelts and skins. The hides are cleaned, cured and then put through a chemical process and hefty equipment which removes the hair, nails and other material. The hides may then be dyed, waxed or rolled to produce the furs you often see adorning walls and floors, leather and other goods. Starting a hide-tanning business could prove to be a lucrative venture.

Attend workshops or gain on-the-job experience to learn the process of tanning wet and dry hides, the chemistry of different animal skin, how to adjust the process for different skins and how to operate various equipment.

Secure a location for your facility and obtain zoning approval. Then contact your state’s Environmental Protection Agency to learn the regulations for chemical usage, storage and disposal and any additional requirements you will need to consider when constructing your facility, such as proper drainage and ventilation. Construct separate areas to accommodate each stage of the tanning process, such as a wet room, drum room, refrigeration, work area, drying room, water treatment room, salting room and a storage facility for your chemicals and equipment.

Purchase a quality fleshing machine. Contact manufacturers to learn the specifications for the machine such as the warranty length, known problems with the machines, production rate, how long the blade will perform before it needs to be reground, time needed to change a blade and additional training time and effort needed to get your machine running smoothly. Then purchase or construct a table that is large enough to hold your machine and your largest hides and then mount your machine. Before operating your machine, thoroughly review the manufacturer’s instructions.

Purchase skinning knives, tanning drums, fleshing blades, scraping machine, fleshing beams, tanning chemicals and safety gear, such as fleshing gloves and goggles.

Develop a website for your tannery detailing the types of furs you accept, prices and expected turnaround time.

Tips

  • Join local hunter's associations to establish yourself within the community.