Hideworking is extremely important to make your experience easier, especially if you do not trade. With leather and furs you can make clothes and tying equipment. Clothes make winter easier to survive, as they ward off frostbite. Tying equipment is essential for a lot of things like drying meat (or other methods of preservation) or for building items (like skis or rafts).
Hideworking changes skins from butchered animals into workable leather or fur.
As of v3.18, it can be quite easy to ruin the skins in tanning process by missing the time. It's recommended to do the tanning ON the cellar to delay the rotten status.
The two things you can do with a skin are:
'Command in game: [Alt] + H then [T] (v3.18stable) '[Alt] + J, [T](pre 3.13) '[Alt] + K, [T]'(3.14) Tan the skin
Tanning is a long and complicated process, with the skin in question requiring substantial cleaning, scraping and then beating before the product can be used. Unlike previous versions, expect tanning of any particularly large skin to take at least three days, possibly more.
Tanning turns the skin into leather or fur, depending on the animal the skin comes from. It is also possible to obtain leather from fur-bearing animals by de-hairing the skin before the start of the tanning process.
Step 1: Clean the new skin. New animal skin need to be clean before you can do anything with it. You need that skin and water. [Alt] + H then [C] will give you [clean] animalskin
Step 2: Tan the skin. This step is the same as the tanning of the previous versions. You need a cleaned animal skin, water and tanning material (bark or fat). The skin can be picked up after a few hours.
Step 3: Rinse the skin again uses a large amount of water. The skin can be picked up after a few hours.
Step 4 (final): Beat the skin. Needs a work surface (bench, table or tree trunk) and a beater (club, stone, …) this step will take a few hours (potentially up to 8) to complete, is very fatiguing and cannot be paused.
To change fur-bearing hide into leather,
Step 2: De-hair. This step pick all the hairs out of the cleaned skin and let it dry in the sun for several days.
Step 3: Soaking. This step soak the dry skin into water. Give [soaked] animalskin. take several hours.
Step 4: Tanning (like step 2 above).
Step 5: Rinse
Step 6: Beat the rinsed skin.
Command in game: [Alt] + J, [C] Cure the skin (for preservation) This extends the life of the skin, but will not turn it into fur/leather. Curing needs water and around 11 days to process one elk skin, although it is a better idea to simply tan the skins outright.
The command to skin a carcass is also accessed through the hideworking menu.