From Raw to Refined: Expert Tips on Fleshing Hides with Natalie Bogwalker

Natalie Bogwalker Hide Tanning
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If you’re venturing into hide tanning, one critical step is learning how to flesh a hide. This process turns a raw, unruly hide into a workable material, but it takes skill and know-how. Luckily, we’ve got Natalie Bogwalker as our guide, sharing her expertise in a Hide Tanning Masterclass. For those who missed her insightful video, we’ve put together a detailed guide with straightforward tips and techniques. By the end of this, you’ll have a solid foundation for this crucial aspect of hide tanning. So, let’s get started!

Identifying and Preparing the Hide for Fleshing

Before you begin the hide-fleshing process, it’s important to determine the hide’s top and bottom. If it still has its tail, identifying the bottom is straightforward – the tail is at the bottom, and the neck is at the top. This distinction matters because beginning with the neck facing you is a smart choice. 

Why? It makes fleshing a lot easier because removing flesh goes more smoothly when you work your way down from the neck. To begin the process, firmly pin the hide under your body, using your weight to keep it steady. This step is essential for a successful and efficient fleshing process. 

Mastering the Fleshing Technique

Just like any other skill, you’ll want to have a trusty, fleshing tool by your side. Begin by focusing on the areas that have already seen some fleshing action. This neat little trick simplifies the process and makes transitioning to untouched areas a whole lot easier. 

And here’s a vital tip: adjust the angle of your tool to match the specific part of the hide you’re working on. Think of it as fine-tuning your technique for different situations.

When it comes to how long the process will take, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. In the beginning, fleshing might take a bit of time. So, your first hide could keep you busy for up to an hour. However, with consistent practice, you’ll develop muscle memory, and things will speed up significantly. Eventually, you’ll find yourself fleshing three to six hides in an hour once you’ve honed your skills.

Detailed Attention and Adapting to Conditions

While you’re fleshing, pay close attention to the edges, neck, and other sensitive areas of the hide. With this, it’s essential to avoid techniques that could gouge the scraping beam or cause cuts in the hide, such as moving the fleshing knife sideways. 

Additionally, the condition of the hide can affect the fleshing process. Generally, fresher hides are more straightforward to work with. And if the hide may have ticks, freezing it is a good idea, even though it may slightly harden the hide.

Finishing Touches and Avoiding Mistakes

In the final stages, focus on making adjustments and following scraping tips. At this point, it’s critical to keep your fleshing knife clean to maintain its effectiveness. Additionally, consider removing any surplus portions, such as the tail and thick sections of the neck, to streamline the tanning process. It’s also worth noting that you should keep the hide flat on the beam to steer clear of creating unwanted holes. 

As you continue with fleshing, focus on the areas where flesh begins, employing short, controlled strokes. Avoid over-scraping beyond the point where flesh has already been removed; this approach maximizes efficiency.

Watch it Here

With these practical insights and techniques, you’re well on your way to mastering the art of fleshing hides, thanks to the guidance of Natalie Bogwalker. To take your skills to the next level, consider joining her Hide Tanning Masterclass. Roll up your sleeves and start your hide-tanning journey with confidence! Happy hide tanning!

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Anchored Outdoors

Anchored Outdoors is an ever-growing network of fly fishing experts who’ve been brought together by podcaster and fellow outdoorswoman, April Vokey.

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