Introduction to Tanning & Skinning Tools


Tools for tanning and skinning

Tools for tanning and skinning Photo by Fala Burnette (Wolf Branch Homestead)

Tanning hides and furs is a valuable skill to learn, not just for the hunter or trapper, but for anyone looking for a way to responsibly put to use the hides normally discarded. Even for those who may not agree with the practices of hunting and trapping, learning to tan the hides of an already harvested animal (such as a deer hide from a processor) can serve as a respectful way to put the hide to use when it would most likely be a waste product. It encourages those who do partake in hunting or trapping, or even dispatch of a predator perhaps threatening livestock or poultry, to be responsible and put the hide to use. While we have experience in this subject, we encourage you to research and find a method and tool set that is comfortable to you.

But before getting started in tanning, it is important to have the proper tools to get the job done. These tools will get you started as you learn, and allow you to process the hides easier. You will find links to tools and equipment that are mentioned in the article, to help you navigate products and order with ease. (Disclosure: Included in this article are paid links; as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank for considering a purchase through these links that could help benefit the homestead!)


A gambrel is an important piece of equipment used to hang the harvested animal up and raise it up and down during the skinning process. Often associated with deer hunting specifically, these are also very important in saving your back when skinning. Some are a metal bar, that require the person preparing to skin to make a cut that separates the leg tendon from the bone, and the ends of the gambrel are inserted through this opening. An easier gambrel style for beginners will use either chains, or cable, that slides and tightens around the leg without having to make any cuts. 

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