Trim Edges


After fitting and drilling all of the skins to the skeleton I needed to trim the oversize edges. The problem with trimming skins with snips or even electric shears is the unsightly “crinkles” left by the blades. I have no delusions of winning any beauty awards with my work, but I figured I would try something to make straight and smooth skin edges. Again, I looked around at my wood butcher tools and decided to give one a try. Here is what I came up with and I’m very pleased with the results.


First, use a straightedge and a ultra-fine sharpie to mark your final finish line. Then using your snips or hand shears cut 1/8” to 3/16” away from the finish line. This will leave all of the “crinkles” outside of the finish line.

Here is a skin with the finish line marked and the rough cut already made. Now we just need to remove that material down to the marked line. You could file it away, but that would be really slow.

Enter the Beast! 

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Last Update:

May 12, 2011




The Beast?  A 3” x 12” Makita sander. Not for the faint of heart or heavy of hand. I put an 80 grit aluminum oxide belt on the sander. At times a 120 or finer grit would have been easier to control, but the 80 worked fine if you can work with a light touch when needed. The 80 allowed me to remove material quickly when starting out away from the line.

If you try this,  practice on scrap first! It didn’t take long to get a feel for the operation but the first few attempts can be a learning experience.

Hang the skin 1/4” over the table edge. Weigh the skin down with heavy weights or use a clamping board to keep it from moving.

Here’s my technique. You are looking over my left shoulder. Run the belt generally with the edge of the skin, but with a slight angle to keep from grooving the belt. Apply pressure slowly when beginning or ending a stroke. Keep it moving! Think like you are working with a paint gun. Lift the leading edge of the belt slightly when making a stoke to keep from digging in.

The skin will start to wrinkle on the edge as heat builds up. Take a break for half a minute to rest and the skin will lay back down as it cools.

Final smoothing of the edges with some 600 or finer AO paper on a foam block was easy following this method.

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