Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hangers for Storage of Tanned Skins


This storage method is a hanger designed to allow tanned mammal skins to be supported when hung on storage racks. This system places less stress on the specimens than the commonly used method of suspending them on cords through openings in the skins. The design also facilitates access to the specimens. It is intended for use in situations where cabinet storage of the skins is impractical due to the size or the number of skins, and where a metal framework is available to hold the hangers.



Catharine A. Hawks
2419 Barbour Road
Falls Church VA 22043-3026
Tel/Fax (703) 876-9272

Linda J. Barkley
Natural History Museum
of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007 USA
Tel (213) 744-3369
Fax (213) 746-2999

Stephen L. Williams
Natural Science Research Lab.
Museum of Texas Tech Univ.
4th Street and Indiana Avenue
Lubbock, TX 79409 USA
Tel (806) 742-2486
Fax (806) 742-1136

Natural History Museum
of Los Angeles County and
Stephen L. Williams

Publication: 1992


The storage design is modified from Hawks et al. (1984), and takes advantage of the metal pipe racks that are found in many fur storage rooms. To attach the hangers, the racks are modified by mounting steel, U-shaped channel to the horizontal members of the racks. Alternatively, racks can be fabricated from steel channel. The hangers are constructed of plastic pipe, suspended on braided cotton cords and attached to the channel with metal J-bolts. Fender washers are attached to the J-bolts for insertion into the channels.

The hangers slide in the channels, allowing easy access to the skins. The pipe is covered with expanded polyethylene foam to cushion the skins, to provide a non-skid surface to help secure them on the hangers, and to create a vapor-impermeable barrier between the skins and the pipe.

Materials Tools Supplies

  • 100% cotton muslin, unbleached
  • Braided cotton cord
  • Drafting film ink, black
  • drill, small
  • Fender washers
  • Hex nuts
  • Hot melt adhesive and glue gun
  • J-bolts
  • Measuring tools
  • Paper punch
  • Polyethylene foam sheets, 1/4in
  • Polyethylene-coated cloth tape or spunbonded olefin tape
  • Polypropylene pipe or polyvinyl chloride pipe (industrial grade thermoplastic, ASTM D-1734 specifications only)
  • Sandpaper
  • Saw
  • Socket wrench
  • Spunbonded polyolefin fabric or pH neutral tissue
  • Steel channel, U-shaped
  • U-bolts
  • Vise, small (to hold pipe during drilling)


  1. Attach steel U-shaped channels to the horizontal segments of the racks, parallel to the access aisles between the racks (Fig.1). For each level of hangers that can be accommodated on the rack (this will vary with the height of the rack and the size of the skins), attach a pair of channels, one at the front and one at the back of the rack. The channels are positioned with the open side downward, and attached to the rack with U-bolts (Fig. 1).

    Figure 1. Shows method of attaching U-shaped steel channel to the metal rack using U-bolts. J-hooks, suspending the padded hanger in figure 3, slide into the U-shaped steel channels on the rack.

  2. Using a saw, cut the plastic pipe for the hangers in lengths that are the same as the inside depth of the racks. The plastic pipe can be either poly-propylene or a polyvinyl chloride industrial thermoplastic conforming to ASTM D-1734 specifications. Pipe with an inside diameter of 1-1.5in is suitable for most skins. Sand the edges of the pipe to smooth them.
  3. Mark the location on the pipe for drilling the holes by measuring the distance between the channels and marking the ends of the pipes evenly from the center using this measurement.
  4. Drill holes at the marks at each end of the pipe. The holes should be large enough to accommodate the cords that will suspend the hangers.
  5. Wrap each section of plastic pipe with 1/4in expanded polyethylene foam sheeting. The seam should be on the side of the pipe opposite from the drilled holes. The polyethylene foam should cover all of the pipe except the areas at the ends where the holes have been drilled for the cords (Fig. 2).

    Figure 2. Construction and attachment of hangers.
  6. Attach the foam sheeting to the pipe with hot-melt adhesive. Apply the adhesive in lines (not drops).
  7. Cut the braided cotton cord to desired lengths, as determined by the hanging distance between the rows of channel on the rack.
  8. Thread the cord through the holes in the pipe and tie a loop at each end. The loops should be large enough to easily slide on and off of a J-bolt (Fig. 3).

    Figure 3. Detail of construction and attachment of hangers. Hangers are attached to U-shaped steel channels 
                    using a J-hook, fender washer and two hex nuts. A knotted, braided cotton cord is used to suspend 
                    the padded plastic pipe.

  9. Bolt a fender washer to the top of the J-bolts using 2 hex nuts.
  10. Insert the J-bolt and fender washer assembly into the channel by tilting it on an angle. Hook the hanger cord loops over the J-bolts (Fig. 3). This suspends the hanger and allows it to be moved along the channel. The pelts can be retrieved by unhooking the cord from the J-hooks, and sliding the pelt off of the hanger.
  11. Drape the skins over the hangers, skin side down. For most pelts, a single hanger is sufficient. Very large pelts may be draped over several hangers that are spread out along the rack system. Two or more pelts may fit without overlapping on some hangers, depending upon the size of the pelts.
  12. To minimize handling and facilitate specimen retrieval, the end of the pipe may be used for labeling purposes. Use polyethylene-coated cloth tape or spunbonded olefin tape as the labeling material, and black ink to write the catalog numbers on the tape.
  13. After the skins have been placed on the hangers, hang separators made of spunbonded olefin fabric or pH neutral tissue paper between the skins to keep them from contact with each other. Cut the separator material to the width of the plastic pipes and punch holes through the upper left and upper right corners. Suspend the separators from the J-bolts with lightweight, braided cotton cord.
  14. To reduce dust accumulation and facilitate pest monitoring, drape the top of each level of the channel with prewashed, unbleached cotton muslin.


Ideally, the metal racks, steel channel, and fender washers would be industrially coated with a heat-bonded, polyester powder paint. The paint exudes no harmful volatiles and its slick surface facilitates movement of the hangers in the channel.

Translate »