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Tanning profession

Previously there were tanneries and tanners in almost every city. Today there are very few tanneries and the profession of a tanner is rarely taught. Leather production involves multiple processes which is why there are many different jobs in a tannery.


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Traditional tanners in London.


There's an old saying: "In the leather process the main thing is the stench: lime, alum, salt, flour, arsenic make it quite white and beautiful. Egg yolks, piss and dog poop give it a special smoothness. Therefore, it is a high-sweet, the tender kiss on the white womens' glove. "


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Many people associated tanning with a strong stench and toxic chemicals. But these times are long past. Modern tanneries are almost odourless and tanners no longer have to worry about a shorter life expectancy. Some of the production processes require high physical strength. Leather skins from cattle are not only large but also soaked with water, making them very heavy.

Since tanning involves handling a inhomogeneous natural product, the work is always a challenge for the tanner. Many processes in the tanning industry have to be adapted to the natural material in order to produce the best possible leather according to the customer's requirements and in compliance with all parameters. Nowadays, tanning is a respected profession and tanners must constantly expand their knowledge in order to keep up with the latest technology.

With the decline in leather production in developed countries, the demand for a career in the leather industry has decreased. In order to raise awareness of the many opportunities that the leather industry offers as a career, organizations such as "Leather ist my Job" have worked to publicize the uniqueness and attractiveness of jobs in the leather industry.

Leather is my job!

Vocational training for tanners

Training for tanners varies, depending on national regulations and laws. Local tanneries and the national leather institutes are aware of the relevant requirements. However, a basic school education and a well-developed technical understanding will provide a good foundation for those wishing to join the profession.

Leather technicians

Leather technicians are above tanners in the tannery hierarchy. They are more experienced, have a higher level of knowledge and greater responsibility. Also, this position may be called and handled differently in every country.


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Tanner baptism - Tanner fountain

Following their graduation tanners or leather technicians traditionally had to go through the tanner baptism. This involved immersing the graduates, fully dressed, in a local well or a large container. This damp yet joyful event was a celebration to mark the successful completion of the training.

Additional information

Videos about the leather production

The leather production in a modern tannery.

Brain tanning.

The leather production with tannins of the oak.

Chamois leather production in Germany.

Process steps in the leather production
Storage - soaking - liming - fleshing - splitting - pickling - tanning - neutralising - withering - sorting - shaving - dyeing - fatliquoring - retanning - drying - finish - softening - final check

Tanning methods
Chrome tanning - Vegetable-tanned leather - Synthetic tanning - Tanning with fats and oils