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Fleshing Machine Worth The Money?

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by 101stcurrahee, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. 101stcurrahee

    101stcurrahee Member

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    I suck at fleshing. I've done a couple dozen deer hides, a bear, and a few dozen small game animals. They always seem to take me several hours and destroy my back.

    Is a fleshing machine going to make me zip through them with ease? I don't even know how they work, I'm just looking for a way to make the worst part of taxidermy less miserable. I find it funny that taxidermists want hides fleshed before tanning/mounting. If I'm going to go through fleshing, turning ears lips etc I might as well tan the thing my self.

    If it's worth the rather large investment for a hobbyist, which one should I get?

    Currently working on badger rugs. Each badger is taking me about 4 hours to flesh, cut feet out to claw, turn nose etc.
     
  2. Fallenscale

    Fallenscale Well-Known Member

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    4 hours is a long time. What are you useing now to flesh? What are you useing to thin your hides/skins
     

  3. 101stcurrahee

    101stcurrahee Member

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    I have a PVC fleshing beam and a curved draw knife. I have tried using a razor to flesh by carefully cutting off meat/fat and plowing it off on the beam. I've been casually doing this for years and absolutely despise fleshing. It never plows off like I see in videos. No matter what angle or pressure I use I have to scrape it 500 times in one spot before I get a "bite" on it. From what I've read you don't want your fleshing knife sharp, which makes sense because occasionally I still rip a hole in it with my dull one trying to bear down on it.

    I would say it's about 2 hours of fleshing 90% of the badger and 2 hours carefully cutting out the paws and turning the nose/lips/ears.
     
  4. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    There is no easy out. Fleshing machines require lots of practice. They will break your back also, Your arms get a good workout from the side to side motion. I use a pressure washer to flesh. 3500 psi with a rotary nozzle. It'll take all the fat off a bear in just a few minutes. The downside is you have a helluva mess to clean up. I live in the stix, so I can walk away from it and the critters clean up the mess.
     
  5. Fallenscale

    Fallenscale Well-Known Member

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    Your fleshing knife needs to be sharpened. Sharpen one side as sharp as a hunting knife and the other half like a dull knife. Sharp side to start and finish. Dull side to push off when started. Personally I have 1/4 of my knife sharp enough to shave paper. A wooden fleshing beam a little flatter but still curved will allow you to cover a wider area on the hide.
    A badger should only take ten minutes to cover the main areas from the ears to tail back,bolland sides. Then you have the feet ect to do

    Pressure washer with a turbo tip works great for some people.
     
  6. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I always kept my draw knife razor sharp. A badger skin would take about 10 to 15 min. and about 1/2 hr or so to split and turn.
     
    JL likes this.
  7. ARUsher

    ARUsher Well-Known Member

    Fleshing machines are definitely worth the investment for shaving hides on thicker skinned game. But it takes a lot of patience to learn and I never use one on thin skinned animals because I would cut too many holes in it. On small mammals, I would stick to a draw or necker knife on the beam and I usually finish up and thin on a wire wheel after a few days in the pickle. Just my opinion though.
     
    JL likes this.
  8. jake7719

    jake7719 Well-Known Member

    I got a lot of injuries from my military service and was told I would be in a wheel chair by now, so I built my own fleshing mech, that I can sit at.
    I struggled with the fleshing mech in school, all most took my thumb off, came up with a different way to flesh, salt and tan my hides.
    Take a bench grinder, remove the guards and wheels. Replace the wheels with SS wire wheels, will take 2-3 to be wide enough. I put the bech grinder on a 2x6 and attached it to a work bench at sitting higth that was comfurtable for me. The set up stuck out about 3 ft so I could work around it, like a "ARM". I used a short table under it to support the weight of the hide.
    Put the guards back on upside down (keeps the hide from being sucked up by the wheel). Break in the wheels with a piece of pine 2x4, be agressive, it sets the angle and rounds off any sharp stuff (use eye protection, ss wire in the eye, NOT GOOD).
    How I flesh, I use a bowlling ball and large scaple blade, not a fleshing beam and fleshing knife. On a WTD, skin and ruff flesh all meat and fat, the thick stuff, everything over 1/4 in thick. The thinner red flesh around the face I score the flesh in a small checker board pattern and the lips and eyes and ears get split and checker boarded. Salt, hang, salt hang untill all liquid is drawn from hide, roll it up for storage.
    Put hide into the pickle hard salted, I dont rehidrate the hide first, I want my pickle salution in the hide not water. My take a few days to soften up. and now you have all kinds of time to finish flesh.
    The wheel will split your eyes and lips vary fast, easy and thin, and is great for cleaning ear buts.
    Bacsicly a monster bird flesher
     
    JL likes this.
  9. 101stcurrahee

    101stcurrahee Member

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    Thank you for the replies. I thought you never wanted your draw knife to be sharp enough to cut?

    I have used it bunch of times for the last few years without sharpening it.

    when you say sharpen one side razor sharp are you talking about half of the left or right side or front to back? One side is flat with the back of the other is about a 45° angle
     
  10. ARUsher

    ARUsher Well-Known Member

    I have never sharpened mine. Mine is also flat on the back and semi sharp on the front. If I have to use a sharp edge to get it started for the necker knife to "catch" I just use another knife to get it started. That is my preference as I believe I have less chance of putting holes in it by scraping/pushing with a semi dull knife.
     
    George likes this.
  11. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I sharpened mine with a honing steel about every 15 min or so. I kept it razor sharp throughout the fleshing process. I don't know if I could shave the hair off of my arm with it, but it ma u have been sharp enough to.
     
  12. Fallenscale

    Fallenscale Well-Known Member

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    Yes for me I sharpen the right hand side. When I push I dont push strait I push and slide my knife to the right in cutting it slicing motion. Very little pressure is aplyed if you work up a sweat you're haven't got it down right. In the late 80's I would flesh and board 100 to 150 raccoon aday in November and December then beaver would start coming in that's when a sharp fleshing is a must to flesh the back by the tail.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
    JL likes this.
  13. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I too, used a slicing motion. I would slice from right to left as I pushed in a foreword motion. All the flesh fat and membrane would come off in one motion on a fairly long swath. On fur bearers, it would also thin the hide somewhat. I had to be careful not to cut through the hair roots.
     
  14. Fallenscale

    Fallenscale Well-Known Member

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    I never had no thinning that would be considered a defect in the garment industry. But any burrs in fur would cause a hole being cut in the hide.
     
  15. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Back when I was a kid, the protective equipment for baseball catchers was called "the tools of ignorance". When I started taxidermy in 1958, I found that a fleshing beam and necker knife should have that name. When I was dumb enough to use one, I never sharpened the blade. Thats a great way to shave but NOT flesh. As a beginner you're likely to shave nipples off if you do.
    I hated that beam. I went to grinders, grinders with wire wheels and even that damnable waste of money, " the mini-flesher". In the early 70s, I bought a Dakota (before they had numbers). I used it for 25 years and it always sounded like a crop duster taking off and was so finicky that the guards were useless. I upgraded to a Rawhide machine and the difference was astounding. I could flesh a deer cape in 20 minutes or less and that included hand fleshing the eyes, nose, mouth and earbutts. So it's your decision. If time is money to you, its worth the investment. If its no big deal, keep your beam.
     
    joeym, DTS 1046 and crs like this.
  16. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    A round knife is very much worth every penny for game animals. I used it for thinning capes. I bought mine when I was only doing 3 to 5 capes a year and never regretted it. Then I went to using it for fleshing also. I could flesh a deer cape in less than 45 min with a beam. Less than 30 min on the fleshing machine.
     
  17. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    If you don't want to invest in a machine, you could try getting a serrated flesher. It will bite into the fat and gristle better. Some fleshers come with a straight side and a serrated side so you can switch off as needed. Definitely invest in a proper fleshing beam. It is way better than PVC. I would know.
     
  18. Westcoast

    Westcoast Active Member

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    Invest in a good piece of machinery! Buy some junk capes and practice,practice,practice. There will definitely be a learning curve. Each and every method will have a learning curve anyway so you might as well learn the fastest most professional methods available. Once you become proficient with the fleshing machine you will wonder why in the hell you didn’t just use one to begin with. The answer to that question of course is always because you don’t want to spend the money for one because they are not cheap. But if it’s taking you half a day to flesh a small mammal then you are wasting way more time/money than you’ll ever spend on a fleshing machine.
     
  19. Fallenscale

    Fallenscale Well-Known Member

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    Sorry you never learned use it properly. I will say this is one of the few times I truly see that you show ignorance. Millions and millions of pelts are fleshed each years with the tools you never learn to use George. Get a education of the proper use.
     
    Keith likes this.
  20. Jordan Park

    Jordan Park Active Member

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    So you guys are using a fleshing machine to flesh a cape and also using the same fleshing machine to shave the hide after the pickle?