I have been trapping for over 40 years and have skinned several hundred animals, maybe even over a thousand. I have used literally hundreds of knives in my lifetime, and I was always looking for a better or faster way to help get the job of skinning done. So, in my search for the best knife for the job, I would go around to other fur shops, meat markets, taxidermist, and slaughter houses to see what they used. I would buy their knives and try them for a while, but a lot of the time these knives are specialty knives, some would work out in the field okay while others wouldn’t cut it at all. With each new experience, I noted the good and bad points in each design as I tried to often modify the knives to meet my needs for field use. Most of the time the handles were way to small, or I would get cramps in my hands while trying to hold on to a smaller knife. When it gets messy due to fluids, the harder you have to hold on to your knife so it doesn’t slip out, which isn’t always easy with razor edged blade.
The handles on “working” knives are designed to only hold in one position so when you start to open the skin up, the knife is upside down, which does not help when making the first cut on a hide (a lot of trappers refer to this as the money cut). The money cut is the cut across the back of the legs by the vent; this cut is important for presentation and boarding of the fur for the market. A knife can either help you or hurt you (I have had both) I was fortunate enough to have worked with some knife makers over the last few years and helped with design and testing of the various steel types. This got me thinking that I could design what I feel is the best skinning knife. It took around 6 months to create from drawing to prototype and first tests- so it wasn’t a quick process just to get something out on the market. I included all mt notes over the years and tested it before putting it to the market, which is how I believe knives should be done. To me, this is hands down the best skinning knife available and we call it the LUTZ SKINNER, and yes, I’m very proud of this knife as it only took me a life time of experience to come up with it!
The Lutz Skinner is a small knife with a blade length of 3.8 inches and handle length of 4.3 inches and only a 1/16 inch thickness. The handle is ¼ by 1 inch and it comes in at 1.7 oz if you study the pictures you will see that the knife when placed in the upside-down position that it will slide under the skin and run along the inside of the fur, lifting the fur to cut it. Remember that we skin from the inside out, we never cut the fur from the outside because all that does is dull the knife and cut the hair which gets everywhere. Then when you roll the knife over, you take your hand and place it up on the the knife, then place your index finger up to the tip of the knife, because we all know where the tips of our fingers are, and the closer the tip is to our finger, the more control we have on the knife.
I see a lot of skinning knives that are very long and when you try to make fine cuts, you don’t have control of the tip which means they won’t be has clean and could cost you money in your fur presentation. Once your long cuts have been made and your hand is in the right position, you can begin pulling the hide making small cuts, but remember to do a lot more pulling than cutting. The more you pull the hide off, the better the skin. Try to use the knife as sparingly as you can. In my trap shed I’m fortunate enough to have a skinning machine. I like it because it keeps constant pressure on the pelt which makes it a lot easier to see were you want to cut, but it's certainly nothing you need to have. In fact, I only got one after I broke my back, that's when I had to build one (remember old trappers never die, they just keep walking the line). So, when you have the fur down to the head area, this is when I see people start to freak out a little, this is where you need to slow down and take your time, and this is also where the knife design starts to shine. Start cutting and pulling until you see the ears, go ahead and cut thought them keeping the knife perpendicular to the head, once you see the fur and the cartilage appear you’re doing good, then comes the eyes, and again, keep the knife perpendicular to the head. Again roll the knife into the head and pulling the hide you will see the eyelids appear, a lot of people have trouble with this including myself, especially the first of the season. Remember practice makes better, once past the eyes, pull the hide down to the nose then cut off the nose. Also at this time, cut the bottom jaw off, it's not needed. In fact, the entire face is not used in the fur market.
Good cuts are directly related to how much your fur will be worth. So, how important is a good skinning knife? It's invaluable to the trapper. I have used all types of knives over the years from very cheap to very expense and I could never find one that did everything well, I took you on this little journey of the skinning process to help you understand why I came up with this knife design.I believe it will greatly enhance your skinning capabilities and with a lot of practice, it will also increase your bottom line.