When it comes to staying warm, there's nothing quite like home-raised rabbit fur. If you tan it correctly, it comes out soft, pliable and extremely beautiful. We've made bags, kindle covers, cushions, blankets, and slippers. But, for the sake of this article, we'll describe not only how to tan the fur, but also how to make a fur hat, as the head is where most of the body's warmth is lost.

Raising rabbits is a valuable addition to almost any household. They are quiet, easy to breed and manage, and do not require much space or input. We raise them mainly for the lean, delicious meat, but they also provide a valuable manure and, of course, fur.

For more information on housing, breeding and feeding rabbits, click here.

To complete this project, you'll need the following:
  • Several freshly skinned rabbit furs
  • Knife
  • 1 cup battery acid
  • 2lbs salt (without iodine)
  • 2 gallons of hot water
  • Neat's Foot Oil
  • Scissors, marker, measuring tape
  • Needle and thread and/or sewing machine

Step 1: Tanning Solution

Once you have removed the fur from the carcass, rinse it well. If you're not ready to tan it yet, you can roll it up and freeze it, but make sure it is fully defrosted before you proceed.

It is best to make this solution the night before you plan to butcher rabbits. You have to heat the water to dissolve the salt, but you don't want to put the furs into hot water. Heat will cause the fur to "slip", which is when patches of fur come loose.
  1. Put 2 lbs of salt (without iodine) in a five gallon bucket.
  2. Heat two gallons of water and pour them into the bucket.
  3. Stir the liquid until the salt is fully dissolved. Use a wooden or plastic stick or spoon. Do not use metal.
  4. Once the solution has cooled, add one cup of battery acid. Be careful not to splash acid on your skin or in your eyes.
  5. Wearing rubber gloves, dunk each pelt into the solution, swilling it around.
  6. Once all the pelts are wet, stack them together and place a rock or brick on them to keep them submerged.
  7. Keep the bucket in a cool, shady place.
This solution is good for about 6 junior pelts or less. If you plan to tan more pelts in one batch, or furs from an older rabbit, increase the amount of acid and salt.

A great little article. But please people use eggs to tan hides its much quicker and you get a great hide in a day and without using battery acid!! Skin and flesh hide then make up an egg solution with warm water (use 2/3eggsor 1 brain) apply solution to the none hair side a good covering the leave for an hour or so. Apply some more solution then work by stretching the hide pulling and stretching until soft. If it starts to stiffen add a little solution. When soft you will need to smoke the hide in a smoker or over the outlet of wood burner with punky wood. <br>One hide done no nasty chemicals.
We will try that out, sounds like a very good option! <br> <br>Do you dry the hide out first, or flesh it fresh? Is it the full egg or egg whites? How long does it take to do a hide in this way? We are usually doing about 6-8 hides a week.
I scrape the flesh off on a small fleshing beam using a dull blade once skinned ( fresh) you can do this after freezing. You can use the whole egg or just the yolk and save the whites to cook with. Once you have the technique down you could be doing 3-4 hides in a day. <br>You can let hides dry a small amount when egged and then stretch. <br>I do a lot of brain tanning here in the uk of all animals and find egg or brains to give a far better quality hide. <br>Also if you are having trouble with hair slip soak hide in a bucket of water with one cup of vineager this will hold the hair. <br>Good luck and let us know how it goes.
<p>Using egg yolk is similar to brain tanning. You're coating the protein fibers with fat so they slide past one another. When the individual parts slide smoothly, the hide feels soft. Problem with egg/brain tanning is that it's not very waterproof. Most traditional recipes include some hot smoking so you use a fire's heat to set the proteins in the skin and the smoke adds some color and antibacterial properties. Also the fats in the egg may go rancid and the protein that gets smeared on (part of the yolk is protein) may be sticky if it gets at all wet.</p><p>The recipe above uses acid and salt to cross-link and set the proteins in the hide instead of heat. And the neats-foot oil is like the fats of brain or egg yolk.</p><p>Using acid to tan a hide is fairly safe. Compared to chromium salts and other types of tanning solutions, which you can't dispose of easily, a salt-acid solution can be dealt with in most urban and rural situations. Acid can be diluted an poured down the drain. I wouldn't do that on a septic system.... You can also try drying it in a pan to re-concentrate it if you're losing ionic strength. </p><p>My suggestion is to pour the acid slowly and wear safety glasses. Also, litmus paper would make it feel less like a backwoods farm project and more like chemistry (it's a matter of style).</p>
I know it's been a year, but I thought I'd respond anyway. :) <br> <br>About the egg tanning, I've read that you can use a mixture of whole eggs and mayonnaise, or you can use egg yolks only. Supposedly, the white keeps the yolk from properly soaking into the hide.
Haha it's so funny to see how many people are getting mad about this. Is it not the same thing when you eat your bacon? The turkey you ate at thanksgiving is not the same? And all the leather used in luxury cars come from trees, right? Sorry. I personally thought it w a great instructable. Some people may not like it, but at the same time, no one is forcing you to look at this. Great job guys
I think this is an awesome instructable! The direction our world is taking makes the homesteading skills invaluable! I am hoping to join in the ranks of homesteading very soon. I want to raise rabbits and chickens for meat production and am glad to see this type of instruction to encourage full use of the animal! Quite frankly am very nervous about the whole 'killing' aspect of it. Whether or not I am up to the task remains to be seen, however, raising the animals as you do, in a happy, healthy, sustainable environment is so, so much better than what the mass meat factories produce! Good for you! You have my vote. I am also extremely impressed with your calm, rational responses to the hate comments you received. Good job all around!
Sweet! Great instructable! Can't wait to try it out. Been wondering about the tanning process, but you've solved that issue for me! Thanks!
Thank you for this instructable. I'm thinking of raising a few rabbits, and didn't really know much about the tanning process, and I certainly would want to use every part of the rabbit if I'm going to raise them. Good work, and good luck.
Great Instructable! I would love to do this with some hares up here in AK, but I don't think I'll make it out to get any this winter. I'll see what hides are available. There are usually some small game and even wolf and coyote. Now I'll have to head out to use my neighbor's Consew.
good idea!!!
Thank you, and Instructables for this post!
thank you for your support! Don't forget to vote for us!
I think this was very well done! I once tried to tan a deerskin and it is NOT an easy job. I finally had to give up, but it might be a lot easier with something smaller. Is there something that could be used to replace the battery acid? I think I was using lime (the mineral, not the fruit, for those who might wonder) to soak the deerskin in, but I can't remember for certain. <br> <br>Also, to all those who are against using leather or killing animals for meat, I do hope you're all vegans or something, otherwise your statements would be very hypocritical. Also, it might be noted that using faux fur is not so great for the environment, especially since it's a plastic product and not natural in any way.
there are many ways to tan skins, we use the acid method because it is cheap and easy. But, lime, alum, brain oils, etc can be used. Do some research on the methods and recipes.
Excellent article...
Great instructable!, We need more real life articles on here.
Finally a REAL fur tutorial thanks!
you're welcome! I'm glad you find it useful.
Wow, you weren't kidding &quot;from scratch&quot;! :) My little city girl mind is blown! I'm passing this on to my sis! :)
<p>Does a person need to stretch the hide again before sewing once it has been stretched and tanned?</p>
<p>Nice fur hat</p><p>Take a look at http://vesa-furcoats.com/ for nice fur hats.</p>
I am vegetarian and don't wear fur
don't you think it would be very cruel to kill the rabbit you raised just for its fur?
We don't raise the rabbits &quot;just for its fur&quot;. We raise them for their meat, but the fur and manure are excellent byproducts we don't like to waste.<br><br>Our rabbits are raised sustainably and butchered humanely. We strive to provide them an excellent life, as healthy and happy animals produce higher quality products.
<p>What breed would be a best all around rabbit for meat and fur?</p>
hmmm i get that.
can't it be faux fur?
sure, it could be, if that's what you have. We have rabbit furs, so that's what we use.
I do not have time to read all the comments. But I do have an opinion to share. I am a vegan and have been for 20 years. Yet, I see nothing wrong with real fur, leather, etc. as opposed to petro chemical products like vinyl, poly-fibers, acrylic, and so forth that actually contribute more to the death of all creatures than hunting and utilizing what one hunts does. I think it is much more respectful to the earth to kill what you need and use all of what you kill. With that said, I find it .... immature?... to farm animals for any reason. Rabbits abound in the wild - go hunt em. The meat would be healthier at any rate. <br>Also, I oppose your use of battery acid as a tanning product. The brain of the rabbit you just killed would work better, is safer, and you don't have to worry about residual fumes being breathed in by that cute kid wearing the hat. <br>Sorry, had to throw some logic into this discussion. And for those that say this is completely wrong to wear fur - please read &quot;Relearn, Rewild&quot; and get a new perspective. <br>Have a great day everyone!
why waste when the real think is freely available?? you use it else throw it...i will always use it... :-)
oh boy, here we go,.......
I brain tan. Works like eggs but uses rabbit brains.
<p>As someone who spent a childhood in Alaska in -20F temperatures in midwinter, I can say I'd have appreciated this. Kudos for keeping the 'old ways' alive and for doing so fearlessly! <br>Good on you for being so positive, too. Thanks for sharing this!</p>
Are y'all trying to look like johnny Appleseed ? Yeehah!
I have a pet bunny but I AM a meat eater...I respect your business you have described and am glad that you are responsible breeders! Faux products can be environmentally unfriendly in many ways. Civilizations survived a long time by using natural products!
This is great thanks
Great tutorial! <br>If &quot;city people&quot; without access to raw furs would like to pick up the instructions at the hat making part, I recommend etsy.com. You will find a choice of quality furs from responsible small time farmers who put the rest of the animal to good use.
We can sell some of our furs too, if anyone is interested in making fur items. <br>
The racoons around here know when it's trash pick-up day; and go down the street tearing up everyone's trash. Nice to have a &quot;real&quot; Davey Crockett hat! <br>
Congratulation on your win
Okay, me again...and I don't want this to come off the wrong way...but this should be entered into the Redneck contest too! :)
that's a good idea!
Just FYI, the idea that we lose most of our body heat through our heads is a myth. Since our skin is effectively a liquid cooled radiator, and that liquid (blood) is in constant motion, it is not subject to the assumed thermodynamic forces that cause heat to rise. As such, we lose about as much heat from out heads as you would expect based upon: <br>1) surface area, and <br>2) insulation. <br>As the head is generally small and well insulated, it actually tends to lose very little heat, relatively. <br>This is bourn out by empirically thermographic imaging.
Interesting approach with the battery acid. Couldn't there be any risks to your skin though if you wear stuff a lot? <br> <br>On a sidenote: just because rabbits can be bred with little space and even less input doesn't mean it's the right thing to do it. Not to them, not to you. <br>I assume parts of the outrage that can be found in the comments stems from the impression that you promote rabbits as brainless objects detached from nature which are to be mindlessly exploited. This approach to pets and animals in general is a rather perverted one. It requires desensitization which will eventually harm you. The rest is morals and philosophy that I don't want to bore you with. <br> <br>The fight between animal rights activists and their counterparts is a messy and silly which unfortunately contorts some very important topics.
we wash the acid out, so there isn't really a risk to your skin. <br> <br>Our rabbits are raised in a colony setup, which means the does share a large space, not in individual pens. They have about 400 square feet or so. <br> <br>I am not sure where we promote rabbits as brainless objects, but that is not our feelings about it at all. We firmly believe that keeping animals happy is the best method for keeping them.
I'm amazed by it all!
1. Amazing, thorough, USEFUL Instructable! <br>2. Thank you so much for keeping up your end of the &quot;be nice&quot; policy. You have set a positive example for the rest of us who want to say mean things back to mean people. <br>Blessings! <br>Patrick
Really interesting and detailed instructable, thanks! <br> <br>I've always wanted to try making leather but being a &quot;city boy&quot; my only source of furs/skins is likely to be roadkill! <br> <br>As an (occasional) meat-eater I'd much rather the skins be used for something productive than discarded.

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