I used a 2X8 for mine (Hal brought up a good point in a previous thread about this that a 2X6 would probably be better). I laid a coon stretcher pattern on top, cut that out, and then sanded it down to where I wanted it. If I were to make another one I would make it narrower, with a bit more of a point. My honest advice is just to buy one at a convention. But if you just like to work with wood, have at it.
I do everything from possums to beaver to bobcats on my beam, but I do have a little bit of problem getting small coons and possums all the way on. I hope this helps.
Posts: 913 | From: From Southeastern NC, currently at NCSU, Raleigh, NC | Registered: Dec 2006
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Making a beam isn't rocket science but a little thought and patience will go a long ways towards ending up with a serviceable product.
Type of wood is not critical but a durable hardwood species such as Ash, Oak or Maple will resists nicks a cuts a bit better.
Shape..The pictured beam is 1.5 X 6 X 60. From the nose to where it is full width is 12".The photo with the knife shows the proper curvature you want to achieve.
Tools..If you really have some time on your hands you could do it with a pocket knife.Shape the nose with a saw,your choice.My choice of non powered tools for shaping the curvature would be a draw knife.If you have one and know how to use it.It will be a 2 hour project total.A hand plane will work but is much slower.Use sandpaper with a sanding block to finish it.60 grit paper is as fine as you want to use.Sand diagonally across the grain.Sand with the grain and you will be there for ever.You only need to shape about 3 feet of the beam.
Take your time and do it right.A well made beam will last you a long time.
I might add an aggressive wood wrasp or a farriers wrasp works well to achieve a rough concave shape that only needs smoothed up by sanding.
Posts: 21 | From: utah | Registered: Mar 2008
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No, no, no! You want a convex surface, not concave. Look at the picture Ric has posted above. See how the curvature of the beam is slightly greater than the curvature of the knife. It's important for your knife to have a reasonable bearing surface, not too little and not too much.
There are lots of ways to go about this, as Ric said. It all depends on what type of tools you have, and your propensity in using them. I recommend a 6 inch wide beam as being the most universal. This will be 5.25 inches if you buy your starter board at the lumberyard. If you do, sort through the 2 X 6 pile until you find one with relatively few knots on one end.
If you have a wire stretcher, that makes a good thing for tracing the nose pattern. From there, I would use a jig saw to cut out the nose. Then you have to shape the curvature of the beam. I'm guessing you don't own a draw knife, so I would opt for a block plane (hand plane) if you have one. I would use a block plane over a wood rasp, but you could do the entire job with a rasp if you are patient. Patience is key here because without power tools, you are going to spend a while at this project.
(P.S. Don't hesitate to sharpen your plane blade if it becomes dull.)
I just finished making a second fleshing beam for the fur shed. The beam I used this year (MB on the left) was WAY too wide for our gray fox. I needed to get myself something smaller so the grays would fit.
I traced one of my gray fox stretchers onto a 2X6 and cut it out with a jib saw. I used a hand held belt sander to shape it to fit my Necker 600...which brings up my question...
Hal said: "It's important for your knife to have a reasonable bearing surface, not too little and not too much."
As I found out this year with my MB which has too much curvature IMO, I understand why too little bearing surface is not ideal. It creates a lot of work. But wouldn't a curve that perfectly fits your fleshing knife be ideal? Would that be too much bearing surface?
If the radius of your knife and beam is the same you will working on the total width of the beam at all times. When fleshing Grey fox on a 4" beam you could do it. Try that with Beaver, Otter or Coon on a 6-7" beam and it will be physically impossible for most and give a whole new meaning to pushing hard for those that can :~). There is also the issue of controlling the knife. The wider the area you are working on the harder you are pushing and the less control you have.
Posts: 3428 | From: Wellington,OH=USA | Registered: Jul 2000
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Okay, thanks, Ric. That makes sense. I am looking forward to trying multiple animals on my smaller, less curved beam to see which I prefer, and to see what changes I may still want to make.
Posts: 12 | From: texas | Registered: Jan 2009
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