In order for a fur pelt to be sold for the best price it has to be properly skinned, fleshed and stretched. The fur industry has set standards for the shape a dried fur pelt must be. This standard is met by stretching the pelt over a properly shaped stretching board. Each species of animal pelt requires a different set of dimensions for the stretching board; however, a mid-size board can be made to properly stretch several different pelts.
Things You'll Need
3 soft lumber boards each 8 by 8 inches and 8 feet long
Saw--saber, band, or jig
Square with 3 foot side
Sandpaper--medium and fine
Choose solid boards of a soft wood such as basswood or pine. The measurements you will be looking at are: the total length of the stretching board, the width at the base, and the width at the shoulder.
Make a mid-range stretching board that will handle the pelts of most furbearers except slender animals such as mink. Lay an 8-foot board down on a flat working surface and cut the board in half making two 48-inch boards.
Measure and mark the exact center of the board, top and bottom, draw a line down the length of the board connecting the two marks. Measure down from the top 8 inches, with a square draw a line horizontally across the vertical top to bottom line. This is the shoulder line measurement.
Measure along the shoulder line, across the vertical line, 3-1/2 inches to either side of the cross where the two lines intersect. Mark the ends of this 7 inch measurement. From the center point at the top of the board draw a curved line down the left side of the board to meet the left side of the 7-inch shoulder mark. Do the same on the right side. You should have a bullet shape drawn from the top to the shoulder, not a straight line between the two points.
Using the square, draw a line from the left shoulder mark down the side edge of the board to the bottom left corner of the board. Do the same on the right side. With the saw cut out this shape along those lines. Having completed the sawing you have a bullet shaped board, with the shoulder narrower than the base of the board.
Rasp all the edges until they are rounded. After this sand them down with medium sandpaper, and then finish the whole board off with fine sandpaper. The board is finished. Make additional boards that are an inch wider at the shoulder and base for bigger pelts.
Stretching raccoon pelts will require a board that is 10 inches wide at the shoulder and base. Mink will need a board 40 inches long, with a 3-inch shoulder, and a 4-inch base. Muskrat pelts are best stretched on commercial wire stretchers. Beaver are not stretched on a stretcher. The board you just made will handle most anything else.
Purchase books on trapping, most will cover stretchers and all the proper measurements. Plywood can be used; however the edges are harder to keep smooth. The portion of the stretcher from the nose to the shoulder will have to be free drawn. Take your time and make it symmetrical. You can use the first stretcher you make for a template.
Use caution when working with saws. Wear eye protection and gloves.