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Fleshing/ What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by david301, May 10, 2017.

  1. Ok so I have a Van Dykes bird flesher with 2 light wire wheels doubled up. and still burning through. Tried with just one wheel and same thing. Working on a blue wing and green wing teal at the moment. If I just touch the skin to the wheel it wont take anything off but with a little pressure it will and then tare a damn hole. I tried soaking one bird first in dawn and water and seemed to help a little but not much. Do I need a different wheel, What the crap.
  2. Jim McNamara

    Jim McNamara Well-Known Member

    Blue wings are pretty tender Anyway. Very easy to tear up. I use a spray bottle of dawn and water that is used to keep the inside of the skin wet. I also keep a pair of scissors at hand to trim up the very tender areas. Make sure the wheel doesn't have any wires that are sticking out . Some people also use borax as an abrasive on the skin while degreasing. It can help. Just be patient and go easy and never stay in one place long at all.

  3. Yah I made sure to trim the straggler wires. Didnt have too much of a problem on the Ross and Bufflehead that I did. Just must be the bird I guess. I have a few holes to sew. Bout as bad as the first wood duck I did. I will try the spray bottle dawn thing, Thanks for your input.
  4. Tom Maul

    Tom Maul Active Member

    Couple things you might try, Dave...
    On those super tender birds, I'll scissor a lot of the bird first. In doing so, I'm trying to remove, or at least score that membrane on top of the fat. In heavily quilled areas like the scaps, I'll score it with a scalpel in a checker board fashion. THEN, I'll go to the wheel. I think on those "tissue paper" birds, when you put enough pressure on the wheel to break that membrane... then you instantly burn through. I know it adds a lot more time to the task, but so does sewing up all those holes.
    Always be moving
    Don't try to do it all in one pass
    Don't be afraid to go to the sink... gettin some of the crap out of your way with a quick rinse can help AND keeping that membrane hydrated helps
    I'll flesh so my wheel is spinning butt to head, BUT I start fleshing at the head and work towards the butt. Make sense? This way I'm not pushing more and more of that membrane IN FRONT of my wheel.
    I know this sounds backwards, but you might try a stiffer wheel. I have both soft and medium wheels and often I burn through much less with the stiffer wheel. As soon as that skin contacts that wheel, its cuttin... there is no "pushing" or "pressing".
    Lastly, and I know this sounds weird, but is your flesher really well lit? My fleshing box is a big, clear, plastic tote and I have a bright LED light shining through it. I swear being able to see exactly what your doing makes a big difference.
    IDK... that's just some thoughts. I sympathize with ya. I HATE when the damn thing won't even let ya touch it... lol. I do more than my share of sewing.
  5. Thanks Tom, I think that membrane on top of the fat is the problem, Exactly as you said. I took one of them wire looped cheeker tools to it and removed as much as I could with that, They are in the freezer for the night, gotta do a deer in the morning then I will be back at em, Will give a stiffer brush a try also. Thanks
  6. critterstuffr

    critterstuffr New Member

    On those smaller tender birds you may want to use scissors to flesh them . Slower process but works. You can also place a screwdriver in the wheel a few times i think it bends the ends of the wire and makes the wheel less aggressive if that makes sense. Good Luck
  7. hambone

    hambone Active Member

    Just to add to what's been said, make sure your forearms are supported at the right height so your not unable to hold the skin steady and don't let the skin get a wrinkle in it keep it taut, good luck.
  8. spencer2

    spencer2 Member

    I'll add my 2 cents, place the bird in water when scissoring the membrane that's covering the fat. The water helps to lift the membrane making it a little easier to scissor.
  9. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    I have a van dykes HD bird flesher I use a 3" coarse wire wheel. Before I fleshed any birds I got a piece of wood and with the flesher running push the wood into the wire wheel to bend the wires back. I've tried fine wire wheels with bad results and went back to my coarse wheel. I've fleshed birds down to sandpipers which are the size of your little finger and fatty.
  10. nate

    nate Active Member

    Most of its just practice and getting the "feel" for it.
  11. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    light "touch" like Nate says....and keep it dry,and use a lot of borax to "cut" thru fat...acts like an abrasisive.....never try to wheel a wet skin...will just be a mess and what diameter is your wheel? a 6 inch wheel will go a lot faster than a 4 inch...if you can find a 3 inch it will be slower still.
  12. wheel is a 4 inch. It is very light. wont really take anything off till I add pressure then burn through. I ordered a stiffer one to try that.
  13. Practice, practice, practice.. I also have the VD flesher and took me a while to get use to especially with wood ducks and other thin skinned birds. Im no pro by any means but this is what I personally do:

    1.) I hit the wheel with soapy water and use a piece of dowel rod to loosen up the wire wheel.

    2.) I sew wht bird inside out with the skin side facing out and use dawn and water in a spray bottle to spray it down as I go.

    3.) do a initial light flesh to break up that top layer of membrane.

    4.) take it to the sink and wash it in cold soapy water to see the feather tracts. I use scissors and scissor off the heavy fatty areas and any meat left on. let the skin float across the wheel!! let the wheel work, DON'T FORCE IT!!

    5.) take it back to the wheel and wheel it again and repeat wheeling and washing until you get the "feather box shape" that you are wanting..

    I grew up in Knoxville and am not too far away from you so if you would like get ahold of me and can flesh one out.. Keep at it as I find out this industry is just like the medical field, the learning is never ending and the sky is the limit..

    Also join the State Assoc.! They have alot of good free and helpful seminars that have helped me and also a great group and kinda like family. As you know we have a wealth of fantastic bird guys in this State!

    Good luck and I hope this helps some what. Everyone has their own opinions and styles, you just need to find what suits you best! Maybe the experts and masters can give you a little better help but so far this is how I go about it and is working for me..
  14. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    I take a scalpel and lightly etch the membrane following the feather rows, then cross-cross these etched lines at 1/4" spacing. Takes about 10 minutes per bird to do this, but it really makes wheeling easier for me
    BossHog likes this.
  15. Are you making sure the bird is facing in the right direction as your fleshing? If not that wheel can grab the quills and tear holes in the bird.
  16. I agree with DL. Was burning holes left an right till I put a board to my wheel an softened up the wire a bit. Works well on all my ducks. I change to a little stiffer wheel on geese and turkey.
  17. I used the heavier 4'' wheel that I received and seemed to help. Did lance the membrane with scalpel and coated in Borax before and during the fleshing, Think I got it figured out, Like I said, I never really had too much of a problem till I got to these Teal. I really appreciate all the help guys.
    RVandonsler I am a member of the Iowa taxidermist Association and compete yearly, I learn a lot each year attending the seminars and competing. I am a full time taxidermist as of a few months ago, I did taxidermy for 12 years then quit for 6 years and have now got enough work to justify. In the past I never really did birds or fish so kinda gotta find my groove with them, I do a good job but always wanting to be better. Always learning everyday by trial and error and from everyone on this site, I couldnt ask for a better teacher than all of you. Thanks. You can check out some of my work here ( https://www.facebook.com/johnsonwildlifestudio )
  18. Tom Maul

    Tom Maul Active Member

    Some very nice work there, David.
    I've never done fish, but I think yours look wonderful. You're very talented.
  19. Thank you, Im getting there. Still lots to learn.