How to make a sheep skin rug – Easy and quick way

A lot of homesteaders chuck away the sheepskins when the process lambs and so this is a wonderful free resource that anyone can get and turn into a high-quality natural rug. We have been making them for a few years now and are perfecting the method so I thought I would write a blog post to share on how to make a sheepskin rug.

Photos are from our Natural Building course where we teach various techniques of Natural Building

Step 1 – Skin, Clean and Wring

  1. Place the skin in a bucket of water and lift in and out a few times
  2. Do not work the wool or you will turn the soft wool into felt
  3. Wring the skin with one person holding each end
  4. Repeat until the water runs clean

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Step 2 -Hang and stretch

We need to attach the skin to a frame so when it dries it does not shrink. This step is made clearer on my youtube video on preparing a sheepskin rug

  1. Option 1 – Nail skin to a frame or pallet
  2. Option 2 – Tie skin to a frame with adjustable knots
  3. Option 2 – Nail some timber to the top and bottom and hang for gravity to do its work

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Step 3 – Cure with salt

  1. Place plastic on the ground
  2. Lay skin over plastic on the ground
  3. Add a thick layer of curing salt over the skin
  4. Leave for 30 minutes for the salt to draw some moisture out of the skin and stick to the skin
  5. Lift the skin up and put it somewhere dry and out of the sun
  6. Collect excess salt from plastic to reuse
  7. After a few weeks, the skin will be cured and dry, you will know it is ready as the skin will be very hard and brittle

curing a sheep skin rug with salt

Step 4 – Clean fat and meat off the skin

  1. This step isn’t needed if the lamb was skinned well
  2. Use the various tools to get the fat off:
    1. Wire brush
    2. Wire brush attachment for electric drills (various strengths)
    3. Knife
  3. Finish with sandpaper

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Step 5 – Clean the wool

  1. Use a wire brush to brush the wool and this will both clean it and make it soft, it is like magic!
  2. Repeat all steps above again if you are not happy that it is now clean enough. i.e. clean in water, cure and hang!

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Step 6 – Treat and Soften

  1. Paint the skin with a treatment real thin. We use a homemade blend of 1/3 egg yolk, 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 water and a slash of homemade soap.
  2. Do this a couple of times and then use the back of your brush  to work the skin to soften it
  3. Brush the wool again with the wire brush which cleans the wool further and helps soften
  4. Repeat the steps here until you reach the designed softness, probably around 10 times over 3 days.
  5. You could also spray with wool with borax but we do not.


Step 7. Cut the rug

  • Mark the shape you wish to have the rug with a pencil on the skin
  • Cut with good fabric scissors
  • This is needed as you never get the edges very clean

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Hanging the rug like this makes it easier to work both sides without taking it off the frame, then you wont have any shrinkage during the treating step:

When the sheepskin is wet you can sow up any holes made in the rug

Thank you for reading, here is some further reading:

Check out my youtube video on this:

Join our Natural Building courses to have a go if you wish

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