Articles & Research

Here lies over 100 pages of detailed articles, written by very knowledgeable experts, replete with pictures, drawings and a lot of excellent information. There are a few exceptions, but generally these articles are not intended to be ‘complete how-to’s. Tanning is not something you can reasonably learn from an article – it takes a good book, video and/or hands-on instruction to do that. These articles can be used to introduce you to various aspects of tanning, to go further with your skills once you understand the basics, or for research. Guides

Buffalo Tanning

18 pages of articles and resources for those interested in tanning and learning about this majestic animal.

Bark Tanning

17 pages of articles and resources covering traditional bark tanning, ‘native’ bark tanning, and crafting with bark tanned leather.

How to Brain Tan Furs

There are no good complete books or videos on brain tanning furs, but these two articles, used in conjunction with a recommended book or video, will help you on your way.

Brain Tanning Furs

by George Michaud

A basic description of how to brain tan furs. 4 pages.


Tanning Your Pelts with Nature’s Tools

by Jim Miller

An overview of how to brain tan furs. 5 pages.


General Brain Tanning How-To’s

Basic Skinning

The quality of your finished hide begins with skinning. A 1 page tutorial.

Obtaining Hides

How to get hides from hunters, game processors and mail-order. A 1 page tutorial.

Storing Hides

How to store your hides until you are ready to brain tan. A 1 page tutorial.

Skinning for Tanners & Game Processors

by Billy Metcalf


A step-by-step to skinning for the most usable and traditional hide shape. 5 pages


Smoke Houses

by Mac Maness, Richard, Rod & Jane 

How to set-up a smoke house for smoking hides. 
3 pages.


Observations on Goatskins

by Vaughn Terpack


How tanning goats differs from deer. 

3 pages. 


Brain Tanning Elk & Moose
by Billy Metcalf

Billy’s tips and tricks for brain tanning Elk & Moose. 5 pages.


Pre-Smoking Method

by Joe & Victoria Dinsmore


Like any tanning method, the results come from getting the details right and understanding how it works. In this article, Joe and Victoria show you exactly how they do it, and why. 7 pages.


Beams & Backs

by Vaughn Terpack

How to set up your scraping beam so that its friendly to your back. 1 page.


The History of Brain Tan

by Matt Richards

From stone age peoples all over the world, to Native Americans, American Pioneers, the Old West and modern times. 6 pages.


Brains, Bones & Hot Springs

by Matt Richards

Native American deerskin dressing at the time of contact. Based on 100 primary sources as well as the extensive use of pre-contact tools by an experienced tanner. 7 pages.



Making Hoof Ornaments

by Ken Smith


Native Americans have been using game animal hoofs and dewclaws for centuries to make rattles, bandoliers and decorations for countless items. Here’s how. 4 pages.

Using Earth and Mineral Pigments

© Native American Visions


Using Hide Glue© Native American Visions



  • Brain Tanning BibliographyOver 100 sources on native, pioneer and modern tanning, with notes.

  • Directory of TannersGet contact information for brain tanners across the U.S. and throughout the worl