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The fleshing knife is one of the most common tools in the fur industry. Pretty much every fur shed out there needs one. It may not always be mandatory – based on your game, but certain animals can only be fleshed with a professional knife.
It makes no difference if you want to find the best fleshing knife for your collection or you simply work in this industry. Either way, you will have to do some research and go through the top-rated units on the market. So, what should you know before spending your money?
About Fleshing Knives
Whether it comes to a modern Necker or a classic Xname fleshing knife, you will need to know what it is used for. If you flesh small animals like minks, weasels, or muskrats, chances are you do not always need such a knife. Instead, you can get the job done with a classic butter knife or perhaps a pelt scrapper.
When it comes to larger animals, you need the right thing. Simply put, if you have to deal with some fat or meat of a pelt, a fleshing knife becomes the optimal tool for this application. Not only does it make your life easier, but it is also more efficient.
Fleshing knives come in more sizes and shapes, as well as prices. Generally speaking, you get a steel blade with a couple of handles – one on each end. Only one side is sharp. You can push a lot, but there is not too much cutting involved. Sure, you can sharpen your knife, but sharpening is not that easy.
It is difficult to find a middle range when it comes to fleshing knives – they are either good or bad. Some of them cost nothing and will give you nothing. Others will cost a bit more – still affordable though – and will provide great quality standards.
There are a few styles of fleshing knives that some people may prefer, yet they are not that popular anymore. They are wide and double edges – the Green English style or the Sheffield style. The Sheffield variety is high end and handmade usually, so it costs more.
If you have skinned small animals for years with a small knife over your knee, you may not necessarily need a fleshing knife. But other than that, even the experienced users will admit that the best fleshing knife will save you lots of stress.
The drawknife used in woodcraft may look the same, but don’t get confused.
2020’s 5 Best Fleshing Knives
Freedom Brand Fleshing Knives
Good value for money – Made in the USA, this set brings in three different knives. There are three different sizes for different sized animals. You can get the set in more sizes, but the classic one will bring in everything you need for super efficiency. Given the price and the quality standards, you get great value for money. It is practically an investment that will last for ages.
Sizing standards – Each knife in the set comes in a different size, so you get a bit of versatility. Practically, the smallest blade is 1×10 inches in size. It is mostly suitable for muskrats and minks. The middle one measures 1.5×12 inches. It is suitable for larger animals, such as foxes and raccoons. The largest blade measures 2×16 inches and it works wonders on bobcats, beavers, or coyotes.
Ergonomic design – Each knife is built with the same quality standards in mind. You have a metallic blade and two handles. Handles are well shaped to prevent slipping when your hands get sweaty. Other than that, the blade is not sharp out of the box. It also has one side only. You will have to sharpen it yourself before using it for the first time.
Maintenance and care – Since blades are not made of stainless steel, they can rust or corrode. When you flesh animals, chances are the blade will get in touch with corrosive acids all the time. From this point of view, make sure you clean it thoroughly after each use. Other than that, you can oil it to prevent rust and corrosion, especially when not in use for long periods.
- Excellent value for money
- Three differently sized knives in the set
- Comfortable handles
- Good edge retention
- Available in more sizes
- Blades are not sharpened, so they require sharpening out of the box
Pete Rickard Fleshing Knife
Versatility – Pete Rickard has designed one of the top-rated fleshing knives on the market. It is designed to be sturdy and durable. It comes with a decent size, so it is suitable for most animals. You might work a bit harder with very large animals, but generally speaking, it is versatile enough to become your primary fleshing tool in the shed.
Quality blade – The blade is based on steel. It is not rush and corrosion-proof, but it can take a good beating. However, a little maintenance will keep it going for many years. Overall, the unit measures eight inches, so it is more than enough for a series of animals. Everything comes in one piece – the knife is sturdy and well put together. There is no jiggling involved.
Ergonomic handles – Handles are based on wood. They are round and ergonomic. They feel comfortable and look good. There are a few metallic elements, which will add to your grip. Even if your hands get sweaty, chances are this knife will never slip out of your hands. Handles are relatively large and work wonders for large-handed users as well.
Maintenance and care – There is not much care required for the handles. As for the blade, common sense prevails. Simply clean the knife after each use – it gets in touch with corrosive acids and liquids, which may damage the blade. Clean it, let it dry and oil the blade – highly recommended when not in use. Give it a layer of oil every week when not in use.
- Sturdy and qualitative
- Versatile and great for most animals
- High-quality blade
- Comfortable and nonslip handles
- Good value for money
- Not rust and corrosion proof, but a bit of maintenance will keep it going for ages
Redneck Convent Fleshing Knife
Easy to use – Redneck Convent’s fleshing knife will not let you down. It is designed to cut through fats and meat with no issues whatsoever. It is excellent for a plethora of animals, such as minks, rabbits, weasels, squirrels, muskrats, and so on. It will also work on larger animals, but you will need to push a bit harder. Overall, it is quite versatile and easy to use with no experience at all.
Blade and sharpness – The blade measures eight inches in length. Based on its size, it will work for most animals. It is slightly curved and measures 1.5 inches in width. It is made of stainless steel. The material will successfully resist corrosion and rust. At the same time, it is easy to sharpen. There is no maintenance required. The blade comes with two edges, so you have more versatility – it is not super sharp, but moderate.
Solid grip handles – Each handle measures 4.8 inches. Unlike other fleshing knives, this one comes with protective guards by each handle, so your hands are less likely to slip on the blade. Moreover, handles provide a nonslip grip – ideal if your hands tend to get wet or sweaty. Handles are solid, but lightweight, so they will not add too much to the overall weight of the knife – about a pound.
Extras – The double-edged blade is an extra you could use sometimes. Stubborn gristle can be sliced through without too much hassle. Other than that, the beveled design ensures great durability. There is not much to do in terms of care and maintenance. Stainless steel will take a good beating, but it is still recommended to clean the knife after each use.
- The blade has two edges
- Solid handles that do not slip
- Handguard protection on the handles
- Ideal for more types of animals
- Durable construction
- Might be difficult to use due to its size – unless you have a fleshing board as well
Necker Fleshing Knife
Heavy-duty uses – This brand does not fool around when it comes to quality and reliability. The Necker fleshing knife is built for heavy-duty uses. It is suitable for all kinds of animals – from small minks and squirrels to larger foxes and coyotes. It does not come with any bells and whistles, but just the right capabilities to ensure a job well done. From this point of view, you get great value for money.
Durable steel – Necker is one of the few brands out there that still rely on high-quality steel for their fleshing knives. This Necker fleshing knife comes with a stainless steel blade. It is likely to last and can resist corrosion and rust with no issues at all. The edge is super sharp, while the other side is extremely dull to avoid damaging your prey when removing meat and fats.
Superior handles – Handles feel pretty solid. They ensure a good grip and they add a bit of balance to the blade. Both handles feature hand protection. While your hands are less likely to get on the blade anyway, you never know. Apart from that, you have a nonslip grip that clears out all the risks. Handles are quite large, so you will never have to struggle – even if you have large palms.
Extras and maintenance – With no bells and whistles that only add to the price, this knife is rated among the best fleshing knives on the market. As for care and maintenance, stainless steel can take acids and moisture without rusting and corroding. You should still wash the knife after each use – it is a matter of hygiene and dealing with organic stuff.
- High-quality standards from a reputable manufacturer
- Great value for money
- Handles come with extra handguards
- Excellent blade with one edge
- Large and stable
- High-quality steel is a bit more difficult to sharpen than poor quality alternatives
Trapping Fleshing Knife
Versatile and qualitative – Trapping’s best fleshing knife is relatively cheap compared to top-rated brands on the market, but on the same note, it is made of quality materials and can successfully tackle all kinds of animals. It is among the most cost-efficient units on the market. You can use it for small animals, as well as larger animals – such as foxes or coyotes.
Superior blade – The blade is based on steel. It can resist corrosion and rust, but it should still be looked after. It has a high carbon content, meaning you should wash it after each use, then oil it if not in use for long periods. The good news about this material is it will maintain its sharpness for ages. Not only is it easy to sharpen, but it will also stay that way.
Quality handles – There is not much to worry about when it comes to the handles. While you do not have handguards (just an extra), the actual movement will not necessarily expose your hands to the blade. Furthermore, the handles are made of wood and come with a rough surface, meaning they ensure a nonslip experience – even if your hands get a bit wet or sweaty.
Sizing and maintenance – The blade measures eight inches. It is more than enough for both small and large animals. Given its size, it is easier to use on large coyotes and foxes though, rather than minks and squirrels. Handles are around four inches in length each. In terms of care and maintenance, you already know – cleaning after each use and oiling when not in use.
- Quality wooden handles that do not slip
- Great value for money
- Good sharpness and edge retention
- Easy to look after
- Suitable for more animals
- The blade is not razor sharp out of the box, so you might have to sharpen it a little
How to Make a Fleshing Knife
Here is a good video on how to make a fleshing knife.
Frequently Asked Questions
How sharp should a fleshing knife be?
A high-quality fleshing knife should be extremely sharp. The sharp side must be razor-sharp for maximum efficiency. Its main role is to shave the gristle off animals. On the other hand, the other size is supposed to be dull. It is most commonly used to push the fat.
You may find a fleshing knife with two edges though – while they are quite versatile and useful, this is not always a general rule. Other than that, not all manufacturers sharpen their fleshing knives, so you might need to do it yourself once you receive the tool.
Are there any alternatives to fleshing knives?
The fleshing knife is an actual necessity in the fur industry. If you run or work in a fur shed, this tool will save time and frustration. However, if you are experienced and you end up with an emergency, you can always use other tools for certain animals.
For example, minks, weasels, and muskrats can be done with butter knives as well. Small pelt scrapers will also get the job done. Such tools are not necessarily helpful for large animals like foxes or coyotes though.
Should I get a fleshing board with my fleshing knife?
The best fleshing knife will work wonders with or without a fleshing board. But then, if you get a large knife, a fleshing board could be helpful – especially for the least experienced ones. In other words, while helpful, the fleshing board is not always necessary.
It is worth noting that most manufacturers do not include such boards with their fleshing knives – unless you buy a whole kit or starting package.
In the end, choosing the best fleshing knife on the market could be a bit tricky. While taking others’ advice and reviews into consideration is a good idea, what works for some people will not always work for everyone else. Consider your level of experience, as well as the animals you normally deal with. Only then you can analyze others’ recommendations for a good knife. You can start with the 5 models we recommend