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.