We do contract tanning work for anyone with skins that are properly tagged and preserved. We are experienced in tanning many of the nuisance species across the USA, including alligator, beaver tail, iguana, python, rattlesnake, and wild hogs among others.
After tanning, if you want us to color your skins, you can select colors from any of the products at Shop Pan Am Leathers. We can also dye-to-match other colors upon request, so long as you provide a TPX pantone reference number or a hard swatch for us to match. This may be subject to surcharges.
Deliveries for contract tanning range from two to six months, and pricing depends on a number of factors which we address in the questionnaire below. To get started, please simply fill out and submit the form on this page.
We will get back to you within 24 hours with pricing and deliveries.
Tanning your alligator skin properly is essential to creating the finished product that is luxurious, elegant and durable for the long haul. The process actually transforms the raw alligator hide into leather which prevents it from deteriorating.
Preparing the skin should start immediately once the animal is harvested and should be done away from direct sunlight. To keep the skin in its best condition, try to avoid blood, meat or fat or sharp objects from touching the skin’s surface as that makes it easier for bacteria to seep into the skin.
Skinning is one trade that requires a set routine that develops with enough experience. Keeping this routine is key to ensuring consistent, quality work. It begins with outlining the gator or croc. On the animal’s sides, the cuts should be between the first and second row of bones from the edge. Cut the back towards the top of the biggest scales of each of the four legs and completely around the ankles.
On the tail, cut along outer most edge. Begin skinning the body from the front legs and close to the side skin. Patiently, skin the the front legs and don’t be afraid to pull. Then, do the same with the back legs. At this point, you should just have the belly remaining.
Locate the gator's jaw and outline where you’ll do your cutting. You can make the skin more tight by pulling on the jaw muscle. Continue to cut the skin of the jaw and towards the neck as well. Now, you’re at the belly where you can pull and cut until your task is accomplished. Again, remove any excess fat or meat. Wash the skin in fresh water.
Fleshing is done by scraping the skin’s flesh side with a blunt object like a paint scraper. Some more developed and experienced facilities use pressure washers at 1,000-1,500 PSI, depending on the size of the skin. If you use a pressure washer, it’s crucial to keep your angle in mind. For instance, shooting down at the skin if it’s laying on the ground can have some negative effects to the skin and isn’t recommended. Rather than a straight on angle to flesh, a 15 degree angle is more ideal and will protect the product more. Once finished with the fleshing, allow it to drain before it is salted.
Once fleshing is complete, you should allow it to drain and then begin the salting process. This entails coating the complete skin with about 1/8 inch of salt — rubbing it in every crease and crevice. Fold in the appendages, roll up the skin and store it in a dark area for a couple of days.
This time allows the skin to truly absorb the salt. Moisture will begin to fall out of the skin. After this period, shake the salt out and then re-apply it, if it’s next destination is storage.
Whether it’s for your clients or for your own personal project, custom tanning is a sure-fire way to get the unique results you want for your leather. In an effort to simplify the process, we’ve broken down some of the essential steps that are needed to ensure a solid custom tanning job.
Our last post went into the preparation of the gator hide, which included skinning, fleshing and salting of the skin. Now, we’re going to detail the proper method to pack and ship the skin to the tannery — getting you one step closer to finalizing your custom leather project(s).
Once you’re completely sure that the skin(s) are completely skinned, fleshed and salted, it’s time to pack and ship. This should be a given, but the skin should NOT be frozen when you ship it. Make sure it is completely thawed and then re-salted.
To make shipping easier, you’re going to want to wrap the skin in a cylindrical form by rolling it tightly. Begin by locating the head of the skin and roll towards the tail. Remember, make sure the outer layer of the skin is also on the outside when you begin tightly rolling the gator hide.
In order to make matters easier both for you and the recipient of the alligator skin (the tannery), it’s extremely important that you keep tabs of each individual piece of skin. Write down the tag number of the skin and attach it to the skin. This tag should include the year, the tag number and the state that it’s from.
In order to stay in line with endangered species laws in the United States, we cannot bring in skins that do not have CITES tags. CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, “is an international treaty drawn up in 1973 to protect wildlife against over-exploitation and to prevent international trade from threatening species.”
To get this tag, you must visit your local game and fish authorities on how to get this tag. If you send us a skin that doesn't have a CITES tag, we will have to ship it back to you at your expense.
Once you’ve received your CITES tag and are prepared to ship your skins, you’ll need a sturdy bag that will collect all of the excess liquid or moisture form the skin. A black heavy duty trash bag will work for this situation as it should be strong enough to not tear or rip.
Find a container that will fit the skins and is strong enough to keep its shape and cover the interior with newspaper to again catch any excess drainage. Once the skins are wrapped and placed in the well-structured shipping container, then you can add the necessary info that will be needed for the tannery.
Documents that include your information, payment and work request should be include in your shipment. Keep this separate from the skins and put in a small plastic bag to protect the documents from becoming damaged.
Lastly, head over to your nearest shipment center and send your alligator skins to us! The tanning process of alligator skin can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months, depending on a variety of factors.