Do you know what a fleshing knife is? It’s an essential tool you find in most fur sheds. You are probably familiar with it if you are someone who likes furs, especially in making them. If you are interested, this post gives you an idea of how to make a fleshing knife in six simple steps!
But first, let’s talk more about what a fleshing life is.
What is a Fleshing Knife?
A fleshing is a knife you use for cleaning meat and fat off a pelt. Most of the time, a small pelt scraper or even a butter knife is enough for fleshing small animals like weasels and muskrats.
But if you have a good amount of flesh to cut off, you will likely need a nice fleshing knife. It’s a good thing that there are many shops, online and offline, selling this particular blade. There are even many different sizes and shapes you can choose from, available at various price points.
The low-end fleshing knives you can find in stores are usually priced at around $15 top $25. It’s that cheap because it really is a simple blade. A fleshing knife is but a piece of steel – straight or slightly curved – with a handle on both ends. The design is simple but using it is a bit hard.
The Blade is One-Sided
Fleshing knives are only one-sided. Because of that, you need to push a lot to work. Even with that, the knife usually does little to no cutting if you don’t regularly sharpen the blade’s convex side. Another issue with a fleshing knife is you will often find them unsharpened, so you will have to do that yourself.
They Do Not Sharpen Easily
The blade does not easily sharpen, making it a bit of a hassle to use this knife. Nevertheless, it can get the job done and is a vital tool in fur sheds, great at fleshing several pelts a season. But those few pelts often take a lot of work since the knife will quickly wear the user out.
The Entry-Level Knives Doesn’t Have Quality Steel
Many companies make fleshing knives – some with brand names and others don’t. Some are made from high-quality steel, while others don’t. Most entry-level fleshing knives are like that – you can sharpen them but still dull quickly. If you need a fleshing knife for occasional pelting, this could work, or you can simply make your own.
What You’ll Need
If you have decided to make your own fleshing knife, you will need a few things. They are:
- Steel bar – around 15 x 2 x 0.5 inch in size
- Power jigsaw
- 120- and 250-grit grinding belts
- Belt grinder
- Leather or fabric
- Vegetable oil
- Eye protection
Gather all these materials and tools for a safe DIY project of making a knife at home. Now, take a look before for the step-by-step instructions of how to make a fleshing knife.
Put everything you will need for the fleshing knife on or near your working table. Follow the procedure below.
1. Design the Fleshing Knife
Start by designing your knife. Designing the blade is crucial before actually making it so that it all goes well. On that note, my advice is to draw the design on cardboard first, then cut it out. This way, you can have an idea of the knife’s overall feel.
When you design your knife, keep this in mind – it should have 2 four-inch tangs on each end of the knife.
If you don’t know what the tang is, it’s merely the end of the knife protruding from the blade. When you are done making your fleshing knife, the tangs will soon become the handle. Don’t forget to add this to your design, or you will not make a proper fleshing knife.
2. Cut the Shape of the Blade
Take out the 15 x 2 x 0.5inch high carbon steel bar you have. From this, you will work on cutting out the blade design you made. Use your design to draw the shape of the blade on the steel bar. As for the kind of steel, it’s recommended to use a 1905 steel. However, it is also perfectly okay to use other types of steel.
Again, remember – It should 2 tangs that are at least four inches long.
Use the power jigsaw to cut the profile of the knife. Do this carefully so that the knife’s shape will be cut out perfectly.
3. Time to Grind the Blade
Now get the belt grinder. With the blade that you cut out, start grinding the edge at a 20-degree angle. For this, use the 120-grit belt. When you do this, make sure that you are only grinding the edge bevel one side of the knife. By doing this, you make a sharper flat side capable of shaving the animal hide a lot better, closer, and more consistently.
4. Treat the Blade with Heat
Next, let’s move to the furnace. You need to heat the blade until it becomes a dull orange color. After it reached this level of heat, submerge it in the vegetable oil or any oil. Now, start tempering the blade. When you are done, heat the blade again to around 350-degrees Fahrenheit or when you can see a blue sheen. When you can finally see this, submerge the knife again in the bath of oil then temper the blade again. Keep on tempering the knife for about three times until it is fully tempered.
5. Work on the Handles
For the handles, you can use two pieces of wood with the same shape. Attach them to each side of the tang using the glue. You should also wrap them in fabric or leather to keep them in place. If you don’t want the wood handles, you can simply use cloth wrapped around the tangs for that.
6. Sharpen the Knife
The last step is, of course, sharpening the blade you made. You can do this using the 250-grit belt and belt grinder. Sharpen the blade by running its edge along the belt, honing it to your liking. Keep in mind that the knife shouldn’t overheat when you are sharpening. Otherwise, the temper will be undone.
How to make a fleshing knife? Is it hard? As you can see, it will take a bit of work, but it’s not complicated. As long as you have the necessary tools, you can make it on your own. It is an excellent idea if you use a fleshing knife pretty often but can’t afford a more quality one. You can make your own instead if you have the spare time!