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Bad Ear, No Problem

Simple Fix for A Messed Up Ear

Learning how to fix certain problems with skins takes a little practice, patience and creativity. Once you get a few fixes under your belt it seems like the next ones that come along become a fun challenge. I’ve heard some stories of miraculous fixes over the years. This one I’m going to show you is not that difficult and to me it tilts the great debate of earliners vs. bondo to the earliner category. I’ve found that earliners allow for a lot of flexibility when it comes to fixing damage, whether it was rough living on the animals part or self inflicted from your shop.

The deer ear I’m fixing in this article had extreme tick damage on the back side, the ear was nearly bald on the upper back side and turning it without tearing was nearly impossible, it was like wet tissue paper.

After assessing I decided it was best to cut the upper 3/4 of the ear off entirely, use another ear off a “donor deer” and piece it back together. I keep random parts off of skins that have slipped or been destroyed in other fashions.

The first thing I did was remove the cartilage from the original ear and then calculated where the best place was to cut the ear in half, as you can see in the pictures I removed the top 3/4.

Then I did the same thing with the donor ear leaving a little extra length and also removing the cartilage.

I use a hair dryer to make sure most of the moisture was removed from the hair side, then with a scalpel I made sure the skin was trimmed right up to the hairline, which will make a nice hair-to-hair fit.

After that I turned the ear inside out (skin side exposed) and rubbed it aggressively in saw dust, I keep in a box under my work bench for just this purpose, this really sucks the moisture out of the skin side. The sawdust is nothing fancy, just excess from my table saw.

Next I test fit the top portion of the donor ear just make sure it was going to come down far enough to meet up with the lower portion of the original ear. Then I used a small stout ruffer to scratch up the earliner, to make sure the epoxy had something to grip. I use an epoxy I get at Walmart to secure the ear, it is the Loctite general purpose epoxy. It works great for earliners because it sets in just 5 minutes, long before the ear skin begins to dry. This assures you the skin won’t drum or move as it begins to dry, as it can with hide paste.

I always keep a rag with lacquer thinner close to clean up any epoxy that may end up in the hair, its a pretty clean process, but in the case of a mess it’s good to have it close.

I applied the epoxy to the lower part of the earliner first, positioned the skin properly and watched closely as I waited for the epoxy to kick and lock the skin down.

With the bottom portion locked down I contemplated the best way to cover the upper earliner with epoxy without making a mess of the lower portion. Ultimately I decided to turn the upper portion inside out, hair side in. Then I coated the skin side with epoxy, with my hand inside the ear skin I simply slid the ear skin on to the earliner, rolling it over as I slid it down. It worked very well.

For this earliner the lacquer thinner was a necessity, I had epoxy on the lower portion as I manipulated the two pieces together. The Lacquer thinner made quick work of the mess, I spent extra time constantly making sure everything stayed in place until the epoxy set up and then cooled back down.

Here is the finished product, front side and back.

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