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The Many Uses of Rawhide

Jul 4, 2008
Rawhide dates back to the early Americans. Rawhide uses include shields, drum heads, lace, lamp shades, furniture, wraps, and much more. Rawhide is very firm as it has not been tanned; it has only been de-haired and cured. Soak it in water for molding, cutting and shaping. It dries, stiffens and retains its shape.

Rawhide is frequently and erroneously called leather. Rawhide has been used for many different purposes for thousands of years. Rawhide is made by scraping the skin thin, soaking it in lime, and then stretching it while it dries.

Rawhide is stiffer and more brittle than other forms of leather, and is principally found in uses such as drum heads or western furniture where it does not need to flex significantly. It is also cut up into strips for use in lacing or stitching, or for making many varieties of dog chews or bones.

Rawhide was used to make par fleches (envelope-like containers), moccasin soles and ropes. Rawhide is what you ordinarily see on Native American drums, par fleches, etc. Rawhide is animal hide which has been dried (by salting). Rawhide is used to make everything from clothing and personal items to building materials, furniture, and tools.

Rawhide is the unprocessed hide of an animal that remains in its natural state. Several companies use rawhide to make low-friction, high-impact, soft face hammers, mallets, These rawhide mallets are excellent for tooling and stamping oak craft leather.

Prepared rawhide can be purchased at some large craft stores, saddlery shops or leather distributors such as Leather Unlimited. Prepared rawhide may include rawhide goatskin, rawhide pigskin, rawhide drum covers, rawhide lace, and many additional products.

Making your own rawhide is much easier than tanning a hide for the novice, and is quite affordable. Once this is done, turning a raw skin into rawhide is a reasonably simple process. If you want to save it for later use, once the rawhide is dry, roll it gently and tie with a lace for storage. When you are ready to use the rawhide, soak it again in a five gallon bucket until it is soft again, usually about fifteen to twenty-four hours, depending on the thickness of the hide. If you soak a piece of rawhide, then something comes up and you aren't ready to use it when you planned, you can keep it hydrated for a a couple of days and it won't hurt it as long as you change the water at least once a day, depending on the temperature. Rawhide is really just skin that has been dehaired, and it has many varied uses.

Opportunities to work on such crafts as drums, rawhide making, rawhide tanning, cradles, moccasins and many other fascinating primitive technologies are great craft projects. First it must be converted to "rawhide". Once tanned, the rawhide attains the soft substance of leather that we are familiar with. Dog chew toys are a good source of rawhide if you don't need large pieces. Why do you think we call it "rawhide". Rawhide is "raw" because it has not been tanned. Nearly all of the leather we use today is tanned leather, but rawhide is still used to make many products even though it is not technically tanned.
About the Author
Leather expert and knowledgeable Ethan O. Tanner explains the different varities of rawhide and discusses the various uses of rawhide
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