The Tanner
by  Fatema & Nicole N.

Do you know who made leather? Well tanners did! Their job was very important. Tanners provided leather for many different clothing items. Tanners used all different parts of an animal. Tanning goes back thousands of years. Some African American enslaved people were trained as leather workers.

Fine, strong leather could be made from the skins of elk, and deer and many other wild animals. Skilled tanners used many different kind of tools. 

Some tools they used were:

  • Buffer - used to shine the animal's skin
  • Fleshing knife - used for getting the flesh off of the animal skin
  • Sleeker - tool used smoothed the skin. 
  • Stone mill - driven by horses, used for grinding oak-tree bark used in tanning
  • Unhairing knife - used for removing animal hair

To be a good tanner you needed to know how to use the tools, and how to handle the big tools without hurting yourself. You also had to know how to carry or pull big things. Tanners learned these things from watching other tanners, or by being apprentices.

Other people who purchased goods from them would use that leather for making shoes and other clothing items.

  Click on a trade below to read more about it.

Source: Fisher, Leonard Everett. The Tanners. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2001.

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