Stretchers


The board stretcher is the simplest form and is in most common use

among trappers for the smaller animals. These stretchers are of

two kinds, the plain and the wedged. The plain stretcher consists

of a piece of board a quarter of an inch in thickness, about eighteen

inches long and six inches in width. One end of this board is rounded

off, as seen in our illustration, and the sides should also be

whittled and smoothed
o a blunt edge.






The board stretchers are used only for those skins which are taken

off whole, that is, as described in the chapter on the otter. The

skin should be drawn tightly over the blunt end of the board, and

its edges either caught in notches cut in the edges of the square

end or secured by a few tacks. This stretcher is particularly


adapted to the skins of muskrats, minks and animals of a like size.

They are known in New England as shingle stretchers, and are much

to be recommended on account of their lightness and the ease with

which they can be made and carried.



The wedge stretcher is rather more elaborate than the foregoing,

and is said to be an improvement.






The first requisite is a board of about three-eighths of an inch in

thickness, two feet or more in length, and three and a half inches

at one end tapering to the width of two inches at the other. This

end should now be rounded, and the edges of the board whittled off

to a blunt edge, as already described in the foregoing, commencing

near the centre of the board, and thinning to the edge, and finishing

with the notches at the square end. Now, by the aid of a rip-saw,

sever the board through the middle lengthwise.



The wedge is the next thing to be constructed, and should consist

of a piece of wood the thickness of the centre of the board and

of the same length, tapering from an inch in width at one end to

half an inch at the other.



To use the stretcher the two boards are inserted into the skin,

(the latter with the fur side inward). The wedge is then inserted

between the large ends of the boards and driven in sufficiently to

stretch the pelt to its full capacity, securing it in the notches

by slight cuts in the hide, or by a tack or two at the edge. It

should then he hung in a cool, airy place, and the pelt left to

season.



The bow stretcher is another contrivance very commonly used for

small skins like the foregoing. When this is used the pelt should

be skinned as described on page 185, the initial cut commencing

at the lower jaw and extending down between the fore legs, all

the feet being previously cut off. The bow may consist of a switch

of any elastic wood such as hickory iron wood, elm or birch. It

should be about three or more feet in length, and as large as a

man's thumb at the butt end. By bending it in the shape of the

letter U it may easily be inserted in the skin, the latter being


fastened by catching the lip on each side into a sliver notch cut on

each end of the bow, as our illustration indicates.






For large animals, such as the deer, bear, beaver, the hoop stretcher

is generally employed.



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