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
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.