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Boarding Beaver Pelts

by Tom Sabo of British Columbia

The natural shape of the beaver pelt is oval, and this is the pelt shape preferred by the fur industry. Thus, the beaver board should be marked with a series of oval rings to provide guidelines, in the desired pattern, for shaping the pelt for the fur market.  Patterns are available free from both NAFA and Fur Harvesters auction houses in Canada.

To obtain the proper size for a given pelt, most of the trapper instruction manuals regarding the sizing of beaver pelts for boarding advise you to grasp the nose and centre of the hind end, then pull to its fullest length along the centre line of the board. Then the nose and hind end should be repositioned two line widths smaller and nailed along this line. After evenly placing a dozen or so nails, you are advised to recheck the size and make alterations if necessary.

A pelt sizing method I have become familiar with is, in my opinion, easier and results in fewer alterations and no overstretched pelts. This method is accomplished by grasping the nose and the centre of the hind end of the pelt, and then centre the pelt equally across the width wise centre line of the board. Then grab the sides of the pelt at the lengthwise centre line of the board and stretch the pelt as tight as possible, equal distance along the centre line from the centre point of the board.  This is the proper size of the pelt. Now rotate the pelt 90 degrees, aligning the head and hind end to the lengthwise centre line of board and tack the centre of the head and rear to the determined pelt size. If you are midway between two sizes, tack to the larger size.  If less than midway, tack between the sizes. When the nailing is complete and the pelt lifted up on the nails for drying purposes, the centre of the pelt should sag to the board. During the drying time, rotate the board a few times to allow the "sag" to shrink evenly. Upon drying, the pelt will become taut and you will have a properly sized product with dense fur.

I personally find this alternative beaver pelt sizing method more accurate for obtaining the proper size without over or under stretching the pelt. With practice, I think you will too.

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