Now that I know that I'm not the only backwoodsy person on this forum, I shall ask:
Have any of you used your smoker for hide tanning? It seems like it would work really well- just make a "tipi" of the hide around the smoker. The contained burn would be a lot less trouble than maintaining a smouldering brush pile, and no worries about the hide falling onto the fire if one of the support sticks gives way.
>Now that I know that I'm not the only backwoodsy person on this forum, I shall ask:
Have any of you used your smoker for hide tanning?
I assume you just mean for smoking a hide you've already tanned, because smoke won't tan a hide.
I have not used a smoker. I have used a can of sawdust, a pile of sawdust, wood chips etc. If you make the tipi and make sure the wood is just wet enough to smolder it works well. I think the smoker will go out too easily.
Smoking's practical use is waterproofing. When you "tan" leather you break the grain so that instead of being hard and shiny (like raw hide) it gets soft and supple. If it is not smoked then when it gets wet the fibers in the "grain" can get glued back together. If it's smoked the smoke keeps them from sticking to each other.
Of course the aethetic use is to give it a nice brown color. Brain "tanned" leather is white, which is pretty, but shows dirt very badly and, as we said, isn't very waterproof.
In theory "tanning" involves tannic acid, usually from oak trees or box of chemicals. Brain "tanning" is not technically tanning. It has a similar end result (soft leather instead of rawhide) but gets there by different methods.
I've brain tanned using the Sioux Indian method. It is work intensive but effective. Right now I've got angora goat raw hides, stiff as cardboard, laying all over the place Just not enough time to tan. It's on the list of "things to do". Right around #8,672 I believe.