It is very easy to do but is very time consuming. You first need the skin. For large pieces stick with deer skin or cow skin. These will be very large and you may want to cut the skin in half before working with them.
You will want to start off with a fresh hide and a very large tub with warm water and a mild dish detergent. It it is a large hide it might be best to have someone helping you. You will need to rinse off the loose hair, the blood and any dirt and debris that is on the hide. Using the dish detergent will help with the smell of the hide which is awful.
Once the hide is rinsed completely it is time to ring out the hide to get rid of the excess water. Twist the hide and continue until you get almost all of the water out. It will be very heavy so this is when two people are good.
Now lay the hide on a flat surface or create a frame and stretch out the hide. A good sharp knife is needed. Be sure to have the hair side down. Take your knife and scrape off any flesh or fat that may be left on the hide.
You can research how to make a frame online or if you are quite ingenious you can create one yourself. What you are really in need of is a frame large enough to stretch your hide.
Take your knife and puncture a hole about 3 to 4 inches apart around the edge of the hide. Lace twine through these holes and attach to your frame making sure to pull the hide tight. Make sure to place your hide and frame close to a source of water as the hide will need to stay moist while working it.
If you haven’t removed the flesh or fat do this now. This needs to be done first. When this side is sufficiently done it will have a bluish-white color and will feel somewhat slimy but not greasy. If it feels greasy you should continue to scrape.
Now it is time to de-hair the hide. This is a process that you need to take your time with or you can damage the hide. If you can, purchase a scraper from a wilderness catalog designed especially for de-hairing the hide. If at any time your hide starts to feel loose, stop and pull the strings tight again. If at any time your hide starts to feel dry, lightly wet the surface and then continue scraping.
Once you have sufficiently de-haired the hide you will need to rinse off the loose hair.
Keep tension on the hide. If the ties become too loose, pull them taut and check often. Keep the hide on the frame two to three days to dry outside. Cover or take inside if you expect rain.
Once the drying process has started this is the tricky part. About once a day you should loosen the ties after the first initial drying day. Do not loosen too much though.
If you have extremely high temperatures, lightly mist the hide so the hide does not dry too quickly and crack.
As the hide dries you can work the surface with a sandstone. This is what they used in the old days. Sandstone will help soften the hide just make sure to clean the stone frequently. Sanding the hde will create a softer hide in which you will be able to use more easily. If you cannot find sandstone, you can also use high-quality sandpaper. The more you sand the hide the softer it will become. You can make this a one day job or a one week job.
When the hide is completely dried, take it off of the frame and trim off the edges where you created the holes.
Your hide is now ready for use or may be stored in a cool,dry room with low humidity.
I have done this with a deer hide and let me tell you it does stink. If you have a weak stomach be prepared to be sick. It was a fun process and I loved sanding the hide down to make a really soft fabric.
Crafts of the Native American Indians