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After skinning and before stretching and drying, all excess flesh must be removed from the pelt. This process is called "fleshing."

  • If all of the fat is not removed, grease burns will occur. This can cause the fur to fall out.
  • In addition, fatty pelts do not dry properly and will spoil quickly.

The quickest and easiest way to cut and scrape the flesh from the pelt is to build a fleshing beam. This is a narrow wooden or fiberglass beam that holds the pelt while you are fleshing. To use a beam for fleshing, pull the pelt (skin-side out) over the beam.

Whether or not you use a fleshing beam, follow these guidelines:

  • Be careful not to cut the hide or scrape so hard that you expose hair roots. This will cause the hair to fall out after tanning. A dull knife or other fleshing tool works best for scraping away fat.
  • Be sure to remove all the fat from around the front legs.
  • Trim around lips and ears with a sharp knife or scissors if necessary.

A properly cleaned pelt should be nothing but fur on one side and skin on the other.

Skinning and Fleshing Safety

  • Always wear latex gloves when preparing pelts. This will help protect you from disease if the animal is carrying germs or parasites.
  • Skinning knives must be razor sharp. This makes them more likely to slice fingers and hands. Be extremely careful. Never allow someone to stand close to you when skinning.
Pelting tools