Back in the 70’s, I can remember one of the old-timers at Jonas Brothers telling me in no uncertain terms: “You must not let the skin be your master!”. He was of course, correct. But sometimes, the skin can’t co-operate, and a form alteration can make all the difference in the world.
Consider a form that fits everywhere but in the muzzle and nose pad area. In this case, the skin barely reaches the lip line and you have white hairs pulled onto the nose pad that should be inside the nostrils. This deer obviously had a smaller muzzle than the form. As I mentioned last time, the skin is soft and pliable and most often will “stretch” to accommodate the form. But in todays extreme case, just remember that if you have to stretch the skin to its absolute maximum, you are asking for trouble when the skin dries. All tanned skins shrink as they dry, and without some “extra” hide to draw from, unwanted drumming is inevitable.
So here is a quick fix well worth the effort:
Begin by sawing the head in half just exactly as you would to widen a muzzle. Cut all the way to between the eyes.
Now, depending on your saw type (a saw with wider set to the teeth will obviously cut a wider groove), this initial cut may or may not be enough. To find out if it’s enough, pinch the two sides together and insert a deck screw from the side to hold things in place and try the skin on. You will be amazed at how much difference a slight decrease in muzzle circumference can make. However, if you don’t think it’s enough:
Mark one side of the groove with a felt marker so you have a guide, and:
Cut the thickness of the line away with a knife. Now pinch the nose together again, insert another screw, and try the skin on again. When you are satisfied with the fit:
Clean the groove with compressed air to remove any foam dust. Then fill the groove with Bondo (you may find it easier to get Bondo into the groove by pushing a foam wedge into the pad area to hold the groove open), pinch it tight once again and insert a screw to hold it all in place. A second screw on the opposite side doesn’t hurt, just to make sure the groove stays tight. You should see Bondo squeezing out of the groove. When the Bondo has set, trim the excess (again, don’t forget to trim the Bondo soon after it hardens). If your screws were the right length (if they are fully imbedded) you can just leave them in.
If the screws stick out on either side, remove them only when you are certain the Bondo has cured.
Just remember that on the face, even a small dimension change can have a big effect on how the skin fits. In this example I removed approximately 1/8th of an inch from the front of the nose pad. But check out what happens to the circumference over the muzzle as well:
This is the form dimension when we started. You can see it is 4 7/8 inches, from lip to lip at the back of the nostrils.
Here is the same measurement on the altered form. It now reads just under 4 3/4 inches. This means you now have a full 1/8th of an inch more skin to reach those lip lines than you had when we started. This may not sound like much but it is huge. Plus, since the nose pad is now 1/8th inch narrower than it was, that should put the nostril hairs back where they belong–in the nostrils!
How long did this take? Well, to saw the groove, carve the groove wider, and to Bondo, it took me about 4 minutes. This does not count trying on the skin, which took a couple of minutes more. The point is, it doesn’t take long at all, but it can have a dramatic effect. Your first attempt might take you longer than the time I have listed, but you’ll have it figured out in no time. And remember you probably will not do this often, but if you need to, now you know how.
In an upcoming post we will take this a step further and learn how to widen or narrow an entire head. Don’t worry, it’s a piece of cake.