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Native American Deerskin Dressing:   Page 3
FLESHING
        Depending on how the deer was skinned, fleshing was done before or after graining. If the skin had chunks of meat or fat, it needed to be fleshed first. There were two basic types of fleshing tools, end and edge. For example, with a cannon bone, the end of the bone was cut at an angle and used as an 'end' tool. While the side of the cannon bone could be modified and used as an 'edge' tool.

        Edge tools were used to push or pull the flesh from the skin, which was pinched between a wooden beam and the tool. End tools were used with a chopping motion to remove flesh from skins held under tension in a frame, pegged to the ground or between an object and the other hand. The working edge of the end tool was sometimes serrated to grip the flesh better.

edge scrapers EDGE SCRAPERS- nearly universal, used for fleshing and graining.

Top to Bottom: Rib, Buffalo (also Deer, Elk, Mtn. Sheep, Moose). This one is actually an extension of a vertebrae from upper rib-cage. Very flat, stout tool, with natural edge. Rib, Buffalo. Ulna-radius, Deer. Natural edge. Don't over clean, as sinewy membranes hold it together. Use narrower beam. Used in scattered locales. Cannon bone beamer, Elk (also Deer, Mtn. Sheep). Extensive use away from Plains. Two edges created by hollowing out center. Wood and bone scraper. Bone shard implanted in wood with pitch binder. Common to Eastern Woodlands. Great tool. Split stick, Oak. Various hardwoods. Some use on NW Coast and scattered other locales.

        Most tribes used the edge tools for fleshing, the same one that they grained with. End tools were used on the northern plains, and filtered into adjacent areas. End tools were extensively used for other types of hides, large ones that were easier to work pegged out, or lashed to a frame, and hides which the hair was to remain on. With hair-on hides, deep fleshing is crucial. This can better be accomplished with end tools because edge tools must be used with a beam, pinching the hide and often damaging the hair. End tools were used throughout North America for this purpose, and are therefore common in the archaelogical record. Deerskins were predominantly fleshed with edge tools on a beam.
 
'end' tools END SCRAPERS- some use for Deer, very common for furs and large hides.

Left to Right: Hafted knapped stone for fleshing. Elbow adze, knapped stone on wood, for fleshing and dry-scraping. Cannon bone flesher, beveled edge, wrist thong brace. Most common of the end scrapers. Serrated cannon bone flesher, less common than previous, gained in popularity after contact. Elk antler, beveled edge, for graining wet-scrape on wooden plank (NW California only). Works, but is it worth the tine?
 
DEHAIRING/GRAINING
        The same edge tools that were used for fleshing were used to remove the hair and grain. Many required but slight modification from their natural form. Tool edges were either squared or beveled. Ribs, cannon-bone beamers, and ulna-radii were the most common. Due to their curved shapes, the ribs and ulna-radii require a narrower crown on the working surface of the beam, so that they don't contact too large of a skin surface and lose their bite. I've scraped several deerskins with their own unmodified ulna-radius, and its been easy, though not as fast as with a cannon-bone beamer. I've also been trying out some oak scrapers. So far they've been losing their edge too fast, and not gripping the grain enough to push it off. I would like to try some even harder woods like mtn. mahogany, and/or fire hardening the working edge. Amazingly to me, the Yurok reportedly used old douglas fir branches, not even a hard wood. End tools, particularly the adzes, were used for dry-scraping. NW California tribes reportedly used beveled elk antlers to scrape hides, with a wooden plank backing. If this is accurate, this would be a case of an end tool being used to wet-scrape.

 
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