mitive methods are excellent; thus, the North American Indians and African Kaffirs are unrivalled dressers of leather. The older method of dressing furs, used universally until the
Methods introduction of machinery, is to "place the skins in a lye of
alkali; when the pelt has become soft, the skins are tubbed, and then shaved by passing them over a large knife and placed in an upright position; they are next buttered, and put in a large tub of saw-dust by men half naked, who tread on them for some time, the heat of their bodies rendering the leather soft and supple; they are then beaten out and finished."
Modern methods of dressing and dyeing are much different.
Modern The work is done in large factories where an expert handles Methods
every department and machinery does most of the tramping and beating. Invention has made possible the use of many commoner and cheaper skins which undergo many operations in the course of their preparation. They may be beamed, scraped, tramped, soaked, fleshed, tanned, dried, drummed, greased, kicked, drummed with saw-dust, dyed, caged, shaved, pared and foot-tubbed before they are ready for the manufacturer. Most of this work is done by machinery, and the large numbers of skins put through at one time makes the product uniform and the cost much lower per unit than by the old-fashioned hand-and-foot process.
Besides the engine or motor which supplies the power, the
Apparatus following apparatus is used: Used
Washing tanks, which are made of wire mesh and revolve in a tank of water;
Drying vats,which revolve very rapidly, to throw moisture out of the skins;
Cleaning drums, which, with an exhaust air arrangement, remove the sawdust or corn starch from the skins;
Polishing drums, which revolve the skins with sawdust to polish the fur and hair;
Wooden tanks, for dyeing;
Revolving stone cylinder, for beaming;
Kicking machine, for pounding the skins;
Sewing machine, built especially for joining fur;
Clipping machines, for shearing the underfur even.
There are chambers for drying skins, where the air is kept constantly in motion by exhaust fans, and many other tools or contrivances for hand work, such as crescent-shaped sharp knives, for fleshing, rope for roping, tubs for tramping, knives, combs, boards for stretching, etc.