How To: Add Turn To a Form – Part 1

So in an earlier blog post I noted that one area that will really increase your value as a taxidermist, is the ability to alter a stock form into whatever position your customer might fancy.  Often these are quite simple projects that can take very little time, but will make your customer extremely happy with you and the mount!

I recently had a situation arise that I hope will show just how little time it can take to get exactly what you (and your customer) want.  My wife shot a mule deer a number of years ago that we finally decided to put in a specific spot, on a specific wall.  After installing a hanger in that spot on the wall I hung up a new 6MD5222WP and stood back for a look.  What we both decided quite quickly was that the best view of this deer would be as one entered the room from a hallway located more to the left of the deer.  Since moving the deer was not an option, what I needed to do was to add a bit more turn to the form.  This would not only get the deer looking where we wanted but it would also add more of a “custom” look as it would now be different from the original pose (the same hunter might bring you a deer year after year and by being able to tweak a form your customer can get a different “look” each time even if you use the same form).

The first picture (below) in this series shows the view of the deer from the hallway.  Nothing wrong with this angle, we just wanted him looking directly at us from this spot.

I decided to start the turn from the base of the shoulder rather than higher up in the neck as this would create a more natural look. To accomplish the desired affect I would have to start by taking a wedge out of the neck, right in front of the inside shoulder.  The wedge is marked in the following photo:

I used a reciprocating saw to remove the wedge then I sawed all the way through the neck to remove it completely from the shoulders.  See below.

Be sure at this point to hollow out a bit of foam from the inside turn of the neck piece so that once the neck is repositioned on the shoulders there will be room to pour foam.  Then reconnect the the neck to the shoulder with nails, leaning the neck in the direction of the turn (where the wedge was removed).  This will increase the amount of turn and at the same time will open up a space on the opposite side of the neck,  as shown in the following photo:

While the deer is now looking directly at us, just as we wanted, note (above) that the left eye is slightly lower than the right eye.  Most often when you increase or decrease a turn you will slightly change the angle of the head.  That is pretty normal and is easy to fix but first I wanted to solidly attach the neck back to the shoulders.  I added some 3 1/2″ screws into the form to firmly hold the joint in place, then I poured foam into the open side.

Once the foam is cured I can now fix the head.  Simply cut it off in a straight line approximately as shown below.   Attach it back with Bondo, twisted slightly so that the eyes are now level.
Clean up the seams with a Stout Ruffer and then rough up the rest of the form, and the deer is ready to mount. Below is the finished job.  With the form on the same hanger on the wall, and me in the hallway, this is what I now see:

So below is before:

And then after:

Just in case you are wondering, it took me about 7-8 minutes to cut the form and fasten the neck back on. It took a minute or so to mix foam and pour it into the opening (then of course I did other things while the foam cured). Then it took about 3 more minutes to cut off the head and Bondo it back in place. It’s safe to say I did the whole thing in less than 15 minutes, and now my client is REALLY happy with me.

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