Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

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Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:46 pm

So today I was fleshing a couple ducks, and while grinding away at the wheel, I was pondering the idea of doing this task without the aid of a wheel, and how impossible that chore must be. I thought I would take a few pictures for the new guys to push them towards the most useful tool in the bird taxidermy arsenal. That is the fleshing wheel. I wonder how anyone could do this with a wire brush or a pair of scissors? Well, maybe you are going through the process, but adequately, I would question? I took a few pictures along the way to show you my method and what (in my opinion) what a skin should look like. I understand that there are plenty of guys who are far more advanced than I, so disregard this post. It is intended for the new guys, and I hope it helps.
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:49 pm

This first picture is after I fleshed the skin. You can see I flesh wet, and I flesh from the head to tail. This eliminates the membrane from wrapping around the wheel, and also keeps you fleshing with the grain, allowing you to open up the rows of feather tracts. After this flesh job, it goes into a very warm to hot bath with dawn dish soap.
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:51 pm

As you can see from the last photo, the skin looks greasy, and it also looks like it could be fleshed a bit closer. Washing it in warm water swells the skin, and lifts the first grease from fleshing off the skin and feathers, and will look like this in the bath. Notice how some tissue is lifted and the skin could use some more wheel time? I also take a soft shoe polish bush while washing and scrup between the quill tracts.
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:56 pm

So after the first bath, I flesh the skin again, and as you can see from this closeup, it looks much cleaner. This photo is prior to a second warm wash in dawn dish soap. I will use laundry detergent as well, so soap brand or type isn't real important. Soap in the presence of water encapsulates the oil molecule. This is why "Dawn takes grease out of your way".
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:59 pm

So now is the second scrubbing and washing, and a picture with the shoe polish brush I use to clean between the quills. After the scrub it gets the second bath.
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:03 pm

Notice the water on the second bath. I have scrubbed the skin side, and rinsed, then inverted the skin so the feathers can be jostled and cleaned of blood and fat that gets caught up in the feathers. As you can see, the water is still dirty. I drain the water and rinse with warm water as many times as it takes to see clear water. Once the water is clear, I quench the skin with cold water and then it goes into the freezer to be stored in a block of ice until I'm ready to mount the bird. I will normally freeze the skin in a freezer bag, and then I will vacuum wrap that back into a food saver bag with a label between the two bags to ID the bird.
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:14 pm

And here is the completely skinned, fleshed, and washed bird, just before it gets frozen. Try to make sure your skin is engulfed in water. No air, and the bird will last several years. I will simply thaw the bird in warm water the night before I want to mount it. The next day I will wrap the bird between to towels and press it until mostly dry. I blow dry my birds with compressed air and a hair drier. Time is on my side being a hobbyist, so I do not use a tumbler to dry my skins. To be honest with you, I have used them, and prefer the hand dried method to tumbling only because the feathers are typically aligned during this drying process, making for far less work during the preening and primping process.

I hope this helps the new guys. I think a clean mature bird is a very important part (like all the other steps) to getting a good result. I may be slow and methodical when skinning, fleshing and washing a bird, but I've done plenty, and I still spent more than three hours on this bird from whole bird to ready to dry, and I think it was well worth the time.

Guys that talk about skinning and fleshing a bird in an hour? WOWZA! Not me! lol
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Dirty Doug » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:42 am

Pete, was this a tutorial on fleshing or to rub it in our ass that you have a King Eider??? LOL You did get that clean......maybe I will slip a pic on this thread when I wrap one around the wheel and it comes off in 3 pieces! :thumbsup:
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Thu Dec 19, 2013 7:00 am

King schming! It could have been an old hen mallard lol. I was actually taking photos for a buddy providing him a tutorial on fleshing which he's been struggling with. The king was to rub it in on him, as he lives in Alaska.

They certainly are pretty birds. I spent two hours on this bird. Skin was tight like a goldeneye, only bigger.
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby WisconsinWaterfowler » Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:54 pm

For a second there I thought this post was for me!
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:20 pm

Yes for you too. I know how much you like to flesh lol! :no:
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby beretta24 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:51 pm

Dirty Doug wrote:Pete, was this a tutorial on fleshing or to rub it in our ass that you have a King Eider???.... :thumbsup:

I was thinking the same thing.

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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby duxrus » Thu Dec 19, 2013 11:15 pm

Using a sea duck or diver for a fleshing tutorial is cheating :tongue:

Let's see a woodie or teal.... :grooving:
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Fri Dec 20, 2013 4:31 am

duxrus wrote:Using a sea duck or diver for a fleshing tutorial is cheating :tongue:

Let's see a woodie or teal.... :grooving:


Next time I do a thin skinned bird I will post pics. Almost easier in my opinion. Yes, thinner skin, but the fat melts off like duck butter, and this sea duck fat is a totally different animal with a super thick pasty viscosity. As long as your technique is good, results are nearly the same......exception would be the tail end of a puddle duck of course, but for me, keeping it wet (and washing several times) is the answer, and now after many years of trying new stuff, I rarely burn holes any longer. My real point that you and I always try and put forth, is if you want to try bird taxidermy, give yourself a fair shake, and at least try a fleshing wheel. I just could not imagine doing it with a wire brush and a pair of scissors.

And you are right Brian, sea ducks certainly can take more abuse! :yes:
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby duxrus » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:00 am

Wet with some applied Dawn works well also, especially on the thinner skinned birds. Just dont get it in your eyes :thumbsup:
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Mike657 » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:39 am

I still use scissors, but soon i will switch to a wheel (homeade). Can the wheel damage the skin? I am still a beginner and am doing three birds this year. the scissors are pretty bad, but you really dont mind it when the bird is nice and finished yet I still do :yes:. How many birds are you doing this year. Good Luck and have fun-Mike P.S. Nice Eider
Good Luck in the field-Mike.
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby duxrus » Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:40 pm

Yes you can burn a hole right through the skin if you aren't careful. Practice on a few before trying it on client birds ;) wetting the skin along with Dawn helps with the "burning" less holes . As with anything, practice makes perfect.
I use a combination of wheel and scissors depending on the situation
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby AAR » Sun Dec 22, 2013 10:42 am

So when you mounting that King up Pete!

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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby Pete-pec » Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:13 am

You know me Eric. I'm always in a hurry to mount up my birds......figure in about five years? LOL!
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby sprigpig1 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:51 pm

Nice tutorial Pete... But yeah I think your rubbing that King in our faces! :yes:
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Re: Why the fleshing wheel is your most valuable tool

Postby sprigpig1 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:04 pm

Bump
"suppose you were an idiot; and suppose you were a member of congress, But I repeat myself".- Mark Twain

"Go to heaven for the climate , go to hell for the company".- Mark Twain
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