Hi folks, I would like to share my experience with egg tanning beaver. I'm from New Zealand, where beaver are extremely rare, and so moving to Canada was a great opportunity to learn about traditional fur tanning.
I started egg tanning domestic meat rabbits and got pretty good at it. Then I was given a coyote hide and that also went well. So when I was offered 2 beaver hides I took them, and they have been kicking my (This word is unacceptable on Trapperman) for a year.
I figured they would be the same as the rabbits and the coyote, but as soon as I started fleshing I realized this wasn't the case. Layers of fat, muscle, and membrane... So much grease...
I didn't have a fleshing tool, so I used a spoon and knife. Followed the usual process and began breaking the hides on the 4X4 that supports the deck. 3 days later the hides were dry and kind of pliable. They almost killed me. days and days of working those 2 hides. I was too exhausted to smoke them so I put them in the basement.
Fast forward 6 months and I pull them out. They are stiff as a board and not likely suitable for mitts. I took them over to a friend's house to compare them with a commercially tanned pelt they had, and my ones were a disaster. I either made amour out of my pelts or I had to do something.
After a bit of reading, I realized that I did a few things wrong. I didn't properly flesh the hides and I didn't thin them either. So how to remedy this situation?
Luckily for me, egg / brain tanning isn't fixed until smoking is complete, and I hadn't yet smoked them. I read that an electric drill with a wire wheel attached is effective at fleshing and thinning hides so I started with one of them. It was slow going but effective. There were some spots that were so hard that the wire wheel made no progress, and so I moistened the skin with water and it made a big difference.
I did make quite a few holes in that hide - thinning too much, after I moistened the whole area with water.
The second hide I completely hydrated before I began thinning and it made the process much faster and easier. I also made a lot less holes.
Once they were done, I re-applied a thin yolk/water mix as I figured I likely just ground away all the previous treatment. I applied it 3 or 4 times once per day as I wanted a really deep penetration of those oils, and I also put the hides through 3 cycles of freeze / thaw.
A final rinse to remove the excess egg yolk and the hide is transformed. Easy to break in and much faster too. Not as soft as the professionally tanned comparison, but certainly good enough to make mitts from.