April 12, 2021
By Daniel J. Felsher as told to John N. Felsher
My son, Daniel J. Felsher, grew up in the Sportsman’s Paradise of south Louisiana. Being the son of an outdoor writer, he began hunting and fishing at a very early age and frequently accompanied me on many adventures. Always handy with tools, Daniel now serves on active duty with the U.S. Navy as an aircraft engine mechanic based in Virginia. – John N. Felsher
The idea for a fish and game cleaning station sprang from pure necessity. Growing up, Dad said that if I wanted to bring home fish and game to eat, I needed to learn how to clean it, so he taught me.
As we both grew older, cleaning the catch from our many adventures became primarily my job.
I used to dig a hole in the backyard to bury the heads, entrails and other parts we didn't eat. I squatted over the hole to clean our catch on a simple cutting board. Sometimes, I used the top of an ice chest, but I still had to squat down or kneel. As I got older, kneeling got rougher on my knees. I felt it would be beneficial and less painful to stand up for cleaning chores.
I wanted something large, rugged and mobile that could handle a variety of cleaning jobs I could do from a very ergonomic standing position. Being in the military, I also wanted something I could move around, place where I wanted and take with me when I moved. I also wanted access to water so I could wash the meat and not risk dropping it on the way to the kitchen. Now that I'm married, my wife appreciates not messing up her kitchen too.
I looked around at various large sporting goods and building supply stores and saw some good ideas, but none really fit all my needs. Therefore, I decided to fabricate exactly what I wanted to fit me. For the design, I borrowed ideas from several different cleaning tables I saw in the stores and added my own unique touches to build a customized ergonomic cleaning station.
First, the materials. For the basic construction, I used 2x4s and bought a cheap plastic sink.
The materials probably cost about $250. A person could save a little money by obtaining an old sink thrown out by someone else, like during a remodeling project.
For a backyard fish and game cleaning station, it doesn't need to be new or fancy.
On one side, I added a big cutting board for my fish. I attached a clamp to the board to hold slimy fish by the tail as I cut on them. On the other side, I put a stout chopping block for larger, tougher game. I use this when chopping off duck and goose wings, animal feet, etc.; anything too big or too tough for a fillet knife.
For the sink, I built a box around it out of 2x4s. The sink free-floats in the table so I can lift it out and clean it as necessary. Then, I built the legs and beefed up the chopping board side. I added a couple 2x4s to the cutting board side so the board would fit.
The most difficult part of building a cleaning station is the plumbing. I couldn't find anything specific to my needs, so I decided to make everything out of PVC pipe and flexible 3/4-inch rubber hose. The sink has a connection for a water hose, but it's not permanently hooked up to running water. When I need water, I connect the garden hose to the sink and rinse everything off.
I allow the water to run directly through the hole at the bottom of the sink, but you could construct a simple drain system to move the rinse water where you want. I mounted a hook on the cutting board side to hang a waste bucket. I toss anything I don’t want into it for disposal later. You also could just place a bucket or garbage can lined with a trash bag under the hole to catch all the scraps.
Overall, this cleaning station is a very solid piece of construction that weighs about 200 pounds. I weigh 250 pounds and I can stand on one side of it without it tipping over.
To be able to easily move that weight, use a pair of large wheels, such as from a wheelbarrow or lawnmower, attached at the bottom of the legs on one side, and two caster-type wheels, which turn 360 degrees, on the other end. That way, you're able to move the cleaning station around like an outdoor grill.
I learned my lesson about the wheels when I used four casters on the legs, which makes the cleaning station much more difficult to move around because the casters turn independently.
If I move to a new house, I can take the cleaning station with me. I can place it wherever I like in my new yard, hook it up to a garden house, and quickly be ready to stand up and clean game or fish.
The construction time from unloading the materials until ready to clean fish or game, was about 5 hours.
Anyone can build such a customized cleaning station for themselves.
One of the things I learned, and it's an old lesson, is to definitely measure twice and cut once. Always cut a little less off than necessary and then fine-tune it from there.
If you have any questions about making your own home fish and game cleaning station, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
List of Building Materials
- 1 sink (plastic is best) with faucet and spout
- 1 large cutting board 1/4-inch thick
- 2 large wheels and two casters
- 1 spring-loaded metal clamp
- 12 pressure-treated 2x4x8s
- 5 feet of 1-inch diameter PVC pipe
- 1 PVC adapter for a garden hose
- 1 can PVC glue
- 2 feet of 3/4-inch flexible rubber hose
- 1 tube clear silicone
- 1 threaded adapter for flexible hose
- 1 PVC adapter for flexible hose
- 3 conduit clamps
- 2 hose clamps (3/4-inch flexible hose)
- 5 pounds of 2.5-inch wood screws
- 1 pound of 1-inch wood screws
- Build a frame around the base of the sink out of 2x4s. Make sure not to build the frame too tight. The sink should be able to slide in and out of the frame easily.
- Screw in two 2x4s, each 60 inches in length, to the front and back side of the sink frame. Attach a 2x4 to the sides, making a bigger frame.
- Attach the legs of the station to each corner of the frame. (The length is up to the individual.) For stability, attach 2x4s to the inside of each leg, making braces. If desired, attach the casters or wheels.
- On one side of the frame (builder chooses side) attach the large cutting board. Use additional 2x4s as needed to ensure the cutting board fits correctly. Using the 1-inch screws, secure each corner of the cutting board. Now, attach the metal clamp to the cutting board on the side closest to the sink. This will serve as a fish holder.
- On the side opposite of the cutting board, attach 2x4s running width ways on the inside of the frame. After braces are complete, screw in 2x4s to the top the frame and braces. This serves as a chopping block.
- Assemble the PVC fittings starting with the garden hose attachment. Glue the garden hose attachment to the end of the pipe. Measure out distance to under the sink. Cut the pipe, and glue on PVC to flexible hose adapter. It might be necessary to secure pipe to frame or braces. If so, secure with conduit clamps.
- Bore a hole in backside of the frame under where the water hookup is. Line threads of sink with Teflon tape and secure threaded to flexible hose adapter to sink. Measure out distance between two adapters and cut flexible hose to size. Line brass fittings with clear silicone, using care not to plug up the opening, and attach flexible hose to both pipe and sink. Let silicone and glue dry before running any water through fish and game cleaning station.