This consists of a hoop made from one or more flexible switches tied together so as to form a circle. In order to be adapted to this mode of stretching, the skin should be flat, i. e. taken off as described on page 172, the initial cut extending from the lower jaw to the vent. The size of the hoop required depends upon the dimensions of the skin. Lay the latter upon some flat surface and so gauge the hoop as that it shall surround the pelt on all sides; after which the latter should be secured or laced to the hoop with twine at the edges. All loose parts should be drawn up, and the skin should everywhere be stretched like a drum head. When this is accomplished it is the custom with many trappers to apply the preparation described on page 273, particularly where the skin is thick and fatty. But we are rather disposed to discourage the use of any preparation whatever, in any case, as they are by no means necessary.
In using the board stretchers the fur should always be on the inside, and when the hoop or bow is used it should be placed in such a position, that the air may circulate freely on both sides of the skin, which should not be removed until thoroughly dry.
[Page 276] TANNING SKINS.
In case some of our readers might desire to tan fur skins for their own domestic purposes, the subjoined directions will be found to be reliable, and for all ordinary requirements, sufficiently adequate.
For tanning with the hair on, the skin should first be cleaned, every particle of loose fat or flesh, being removed, and the useless parts cut away. When this is done, it should be soaked for an hour or two in warm water. The following mixture should then be prepared: Take equal parts of borax, saltpetre, and sulphate of soda, and with them mix water sufficient to produce the consistency of thin batter.
This preparation should be painted thickly on the flesh side of the skin, after which these sides should be doubled together and the pelt left in an airy place.
A second mixture should next be prepared. This should consist of two parts sal soda; three parts borax; four parts castile or other hard soap: all to be melted together over a slow fire. At the end of twenty-four hours, after the application of the first mixture, the second should be applied in a similar manner, and the fur again folded and left for the same length of time. Next, make a mixture equal parts of salt and alum, dissolved in warm water and thickened with coarse flour to the consistency of thin paste. Spread this thickly over the skin and allow it to dry, after which it should be scraped off with the bowl of a spoon. The skin should be tightly stretched during the operation, in order to prevent too great shrinkage. A single application of the last-named dressing, is generally sufficient for small skins; but a second or third treatment may be resorted to if required, to make the skin soft and pliable, after which it should be finished off with sand-paper and pumice stone. A skin may be thus dressed as soft as velvet, and the alum and salt will set the hair securely.