Special Note: All Otter Creek stretcher boards are

Eighty-percent of the value in a fur comes from the condition of the fur after it's cleaned and dried. Pelts with nicks, holes, cuts or bruises in them, or with irregular ends, are considerably de-valued by buyers.

Here are two important accessories -- fleshing beams and stretcher boards -- which, designed and used properly, will help preserve and maximize the value of your pelts, and will simplify your work in preparing pelts for top-dollar sale.

Fleshing Beams

"Fleshing beams" help you clean the flesh, muscle and other material from the underside of a pelt.

 Pelts are turned inside out and laid over a fleshing beam. A knife is drawn along the fleshy side of the   pelts to scrape fat and flesh from them (Figure 1).

Figure 1.   Proper use of fleshing beam and knife

It's important for this beam to be strong, to approximate the width and shape of the pelt, to be free from nicks and scrapes to damage your pelt, and to have a shaped surface that matches the curvature of your cleaning knife. A properly-curved surface will hold the pelt snugly against the knife, with no opportunity to bunch, snag or tear.

I have many sizes and shapes of fleshing boards, each designed and sized for a specific fur-bearing animal, in my on-line catalog. All my fleshing beams are made from hard maple, and numbered and signed, and are guaranteed for life. Order them from my catalog.

Stretcher Boards

There are two ways to dry pelts -- on wire frames, or on "stretcher boards."

Stretcher boards make your dried pelt look much more presentable and valuable than wire racks do ...Wooden boards are better

A good (that means, sturdy but soft-wood, properly-sized. and well-shaped) wooden board lets you stretch the pelt out to its fullest and pin it into place, holding it firmly until it dries.


As you see in Figure 2, a wire rack treats the pelt much rougher, even pulling it out of shape when the wire clip at the bottom of the rack has to snag and pull down on a small section of the pelt in order to hold it in place. Wire racks also rust; and they don't absorb any of the pelt's moisture like basswood stretcher boards do.

The proper shape and characteristics of your furs are very important to the quality of your pelt. Quality determines a fur's marketability. Better quality pelts draw higher value.

As with the fleshing beams, I've designed a range of stretcher boards for various fur-bearers that attend to these details and increase the value of your pelts. They're made of local basswood, which is sturdy but soft enough to push pins into to hold your pelt in shape. It's the traditional wood for Wisconsin northwoodsmen and trappers for the last 150 years!

And here's an important note: All my stretcher boards are carefully designed to patterns and blueprints approved by the North American Fur Association, so they'll bring the best fur prices at market!

You'll find both fleshing beams and stretcher boards in my on-line catalog at:

Stretcher Boards and Fleshing Beams


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