I've always been curious as to how they can remove the guard hairs and leave the undercoat in an efficient manner.
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I've never heard of tanneries plucking beaver. they do however shave them so the longer hair is the same lenght as the undercoat.
What Mark is refering to is shearing, that is done to the beaver to make the soft underfur an even surface. They do pluck out the long hair first, otherwise the soft underfur would have a stubble that would not be soft. I have no idea how the do it.
Cotton Pickin' Finger Lickin' Beaver Plucker, that is how! The pelts that are graded as "shearable", normally fall beaver. The underfur of spring beaver pelts are off colored due to their winter diet and habits. The hides are first plucked of the long guard hairs by a plucking device not entirely unlike a duck plucker in function, and then the exposed underfur is sheared to a height of, I believe, around 12 mm.
It's been a question I've had for a long time, now I know (sort of). Would like to see the plucking tool that's used, though.
If this plucking machine is kind of like a duck plucker, why doesn't it take out the unerfur too? I guess I had pictured some kind of rubber roller contraption that pinched and plucked the hair as it was combed up. Don't ask why I had this pictured in my mind, I guess it just seemed to be what a "plucker" should be. I am serious in asking why the underfur doesn't come out with the guard hairs.
Duck pluckers just grab the outer feathers on the first pass and the down and filaments are usually burned off after plucking. After I pluck a duck with my LL Bean super duper ducker plucker, it is covered with fuzzy down.
The beaver pluckers use a different device to capture and pluck the long guard hairs which stand considerably above the underfur. Duck plucker wheels have ringed rubber "fingers" which grasp the feathers and yank them out. The Beaver Pluckers are, I believe, more like a dull mechanical lawnmower which grabs and pulls, but does not cut
I am having a beaver coat made for my wife so I have I asked this same question to the people that are doing it. They told me somthing similar to Cur's answer but added that they apply a sticky substance to the "plucking padle" so it grips the fur. Some people still do it by hand by taking light swipes at the pelt with a sticky paint stirer. The leather is also conditioned so the hair slips easier. There is a big diference between a "shered" pelt and a "plucked and sheared" pelt. It appers to be kind of complikated prossess and the details are somwhat of a secret. I believe it runs about fifteen or twenty bucks per pelt.
That explains it too my satisfaction and I can now sleep at night again as I am not puzzeling over it. The only duck plucker that I have ever seen in operation was at a commercial plant and it took the feathers and the down all with one swipe.