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Trapping and Skinning: The Fleshing Beam

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February 12, 2013
Trapping and Skinning: The Fleshing Beam - 5

If you ever plan on dealing with large quantities of hides, whether it’s deer, beaver, or wolves, one of the most important pieces of gear to have is a fleshing beam. Although you can get away with not fleshing some smaller critters, most hides require a good fleshing job, and when dealing with a high volume, you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed if you don’t have a beam.

With a fleshing beam and a draw knife you can scrape off all the flesh and fat much faster, and with much less hide damage, than with a regular knife.

How to Build the Beam
Using a few basic guidelines you can build a fleshing beam out of a variety of materials, often for little to no cost. The one I built this year cost me around $30, but only because I didn’t have the time to dig around for free stuff. I built mine out of one 2x10 (for the base), one 1x6 pine board, and one piece of 1x6 oak (the oak is used for the scraping surface). Like most guys, I like a bit of an angle to my beam, but the exact angle isn’t critical. I made mine so that when I stand on the base with one foot, I can press against the tip of the beam with my hip to hold the hide in place while scraping. Any hard wood will work fine, but the scraping surface should be rounded, smooth, and free of knots or anything that the knife might catch on and tear the hide. One of the coolest fleshing beams I have seen was made out of PVC pipe. For mine, I screwed the oak piece on top of the pine very securely, to add rigidity, then used a jigsaw and sanding disc to round the tip of the beam (on which all of the scraping is done).

How to Use the Beam
The method for using a fleshing beam is pretty simple. The way mine is set up, I drape the hide over or around the beam, and work my way from the head down. In using the draw knife, keep in mind that you are pushing the flesh/fat off the hide, NOT cutting it off. I step on the base of my beam, and hold the hide in place by pressing my hip against it while it’s draped over the end. It’s important to note that all the scraping should be done on the top six inches or so of the beam—go any lower and it’s easy to tear the hide. Pressing with my hip, I’ll push in downward strokes with my draw knife to get the meat rolling off the hide. Sometimes I have to get it started with a knife, but once I start pushing the flesh off, it simply rolls off, and I rotate the hide on the beam, gradually working the ring of fat and meat down the hide. With this method, it actually helps to leave more meat and fat on the hide when you skin it because it gives more for the draw knife to grab.

If you deal with very many hides a good beam pays off in no time, and will save you hours of work, especially with critters like wolves.

Comments (5)

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from tylerfreel85 wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

thanks for the question MNwhiteailhunter, this should always be done before the hides are put up to stretch & dry. it ensures that the skin will be able to dry out adequately and avoid slippage. some buyers will take fresh hides that are unfleshed, but will usually charge you if they have to flesh and stretch them.

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from tylerfreel85 wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

that's a pretty common problem huntfishtrap, it just takes practice...one key is having a good edge on the draw knife...not sharp...but a good enough edge to grab the flesh. getting it started is sometimes the toughest part..once it's rolling, it usually goes fairly easily, just takes practice.

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from MNwhitetailHunter wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

is this suppose to be done before someone sells the hides to a trader or does this give someone more trade in value?

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from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

I've tried my hand at fleshing a few hides, and it never turned out well. Seemed like either I didn't get anything off, or if I pressed harder the hide tore, or the hair pulled out. Not sure what I did wrong, some people make it look so easy!

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from BiggBucks wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

This is pretty cool! I will have to try and build one of these and see how well I am able to flesh out some 'yotes. Thanks for a cool project to build and use.

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from BiggBucks wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

This is pretty cool! I will have to try and build one of these and see how well I am able to flesh out some 'yotes. Thanks for a cool project to build and use.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from tylerfreel85 wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

that's a pretty common problem huntfishtrap, it just takes practice...one key is having a good edge on the draw knife...not sharp...but a good enough edge to grab the flesh. getting it started is sometimes the toughest part..once it's rolling, it usually goes fairly easily, just takes practice.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from tylerfreel85 wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

thanks for the question MNwhiteailhunter, this should always be done before the hides are put up to stretch & dry. it ensures that the skin will be able to dry out adequately and avoid slippage. some buyers will take fresh hides that are unfleshed, but will usually charge you if they have to flesh and stretch them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

I've tried my hand at fleshing a few hides, and it never turned out well. Seemed like either I didn't get anything off, or if I pressed harder the hide tore, or the hair pulled out. Not sure what I did wrong, some people make it look so easy!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MNwhitetailHunter wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

is this suppose to be done before someone sells the hides to a trader or does this give someone more trade in value?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)