Fleshing Thin Skinned Furbearers

Submitted by James Kemp on 6/7/99. ( kkemp@earthlink.net )

My brother and I are going to tan some fur we caught last year trapping. We are going to use Lutan F to tan these. We purchased a
fleshing machine and I wanted to know if thin hide pelts like mink,
muskrat, and red fox need to be shaved down after pickling. These
hides are not going to be mounted or made into rugs. We bought a
couple of videos on tanning and fleshing, but all they cover are deer
capes. We plan on tanning mink,muskrat,fox,badger,coyote,raccoon,
beaver,and opossum.Also, does anyone know what the PH should be when
using Van Dykes pickling crystals?

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Shaving Mink

This response submitted by George Roof on 6/7/99. ( georoof@aol.com )

Beware of trying to shave your thin skinned hides on a fleshing machine designed for taxidermy. It's a great way to ruin prime hides. I ruined more than my share of raccoons, foxes, and otters until I bought a "fur Dresser". The machine looks similar, but the cutting edge is much narrower and shallower than the fleshers. The rests have finer adjustments so that you can flesh a mink or a flying squirrel as I have. If you are not planning anything special with the hide, I'd suggest you flesh them by hand and tan them if you have the taxidermy machine. It will tan just as well, but the uniformity of skin thickness will vary as skin is thicker on the back than it is on the arm pits.
Sorry, I can't help you with the ph problems.

All Depends

This response submitted by Keith Daniels on 6/8/99. ( arlcape@bright.net )

James, all the skins you mentioned are different. The Red Fox can be done at home easily, they require basically no thinning, just clean all the red meat, fat and membrane off. Mink are fairly heavy leathered, and do need considerable thinning to turn out soft, the same is pretty much true with muskrat. Badger raccoon and beaver need to be thoroughly degreased too, as well as being heavy leathered, requiring a lot of thinning. If your machine runs smooth, you have a sharp blade, and you get some experince running it, you'll do just fine shaving on it, what it's called doesn't really matter. Check with Van Dykes on the P H, but I'd guess they're going to tell you to go in the low 2's. A word of advice, practice on the reds, 'possums and coyotes, then try some mink, rat's and coon. Then send the beaver, badger and rest of the mink rats and coon to a fur dresser until you get a little more practice. Keith

Thanks for the info

This response submitted by James Kemp on 6/8/99. ( kkemp@earthlink.net )

Thanks for the info, George and Keith. I skin,flesh and stretch approx. 500 furbearers each fall and winter, so I think it shouldn't
be to hard to learn to shave them. I'll try a couple out at first and see how they turn out. I have a couple of spring beaver that are
ruined from fighting (scars from fighting) that I will try on the fleshing machine. When you hand shave a pelt, what do you use? I have
a necker fleshing draw knife that can be sharpened like a razor, will
this work, or do you use a razor blade or knife? Thanks for the help.

If you're using.........

This response submitted by Bruce Rittel on 6/9/99. ( rittel@ici.net )

If you're using Van Dykes Safe Pickling crystals - you should keep the ph at about the 2.0-2.5 range. Normally its best to use 3 Ozs. of it per 1 Gallon of Water. Let them pickle well before you degrease or shave them - usually 3 days or longer. As for fleshing thin skinned small animals try rubbing them with sawdust and sanding away the membrane using a 28 grit belt on a tabletop. Be careful! As for using your Necker knife - you should also have a good Beam for it too! I like a 8" - but some guys like the smaller 4" wide Beam. Your Necker is excellent for what you want to do.

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