Things You'll Need:
- 2-by-4-inch boards
- 2-by-8-inch boards
- Measuring tape
- 4 corner brackets
- 26-inch-high cage wire; 1/4-inch mesh
- Wire snippers
- Small poultry tacks or wood staples
- 4 sawhorse brackets
- 4 wall hooks (optional)
- Needle (optional)
- Thread (optional)
- 1-3/4 yards fabric (optional)
- 4 D rings or O rings (optional)
A skirting table is used for sorting alpaca fleece once the fleece has been sheared from the animal. The mesh on the bottom of the table allows trash such as dirt and grass to fall away from the fleece, and the seconds, or short pieces of fleece from the legs and neck, to separate from the blanket or the long, high-quality fleece from the body of the alpaca.
Affix the optional trash catcher if you are skirting indoors or in another area you don't want a mess so that you don't have to sweep afterward.
Assembling the Table
Cut two pieces of the 2-by-4-inch boards to 46 inches and two pieces of the 2-by-8-inch board to 26 inches. Retain the rest of the 2-by-4-inch boards for use in Step 4.
Arrange your boards in a rectangle so that the cut ends of the 2-by-4-inch boards are flush against the edges of the 2-by-8-inch boards. Nail into place. Stabilize the table base by nailing the corner brackets into the inside corners.
Cut the 1/4-inch cage wire to 50 inches long and stretch over the table base so that about two inches is turned up against the 2-by-8-inch boards on each side. Tack into place with the small poultry tacks or wood staples and the hammer. Use one tack every 4 to 6 inches.
Cut eight of the remaining 2-by-4-inch boards to 22 inches, which will place the table at a comfortable height to skirt from most chairs. These form the legs.
Affix the legs into the sawhorse braces by sliding the 2-by-4-inch boards into the slots. Turn the table over onto the sawhorse braces so that the overhanging 2-by-8-inch board is wedged into the braces a few inches from each end. The side of the table the wire is tacked onto should now be facing down, and there should be a 4-inch lip around the edge of the table to prevent your fleece from falling off while skirting.
Adding the Optional Trash Catcher
Screw a wall hook into the 2-by-4-inch beam just above the leg support on each corner.
Sew a D- or O-ring onto each corner of your fabric. An old tablecloth or twin bed sheet works fine.
Hook a ring onto each wall hook so that the fabric hangs beneath the wire mesh to catch sand, grass, seconds and anything else that is separated from the blanket.
To remove the cloth once it is filled, carefully unhook two of the corners along the 26-inch side of the table and bring them over to the remaining two corners. Unhook those as well, and the trash will be inside the pocket you created.
- These instructions are for a single person table; to make a table suitable for use by two people at the same time, use 36-inch wire and boards rather than 26-inch. If you plan on skirting while standing, sitting on a tall stool or anywhere else that would require the table to be at a different height, see the link in "Resources" to determine the length of the legs. Enter the height in inches that you need the bottom of your table to be in the field marked "Side B" and the number 35 into the field "Angle A or B." Press the "Calculate" button. The field "Side C" will be the length to which you should cut your legs. You can make more than one set of legs if you plan to skirt in different places and change them out as needed. It is easier to empty the trash catcher with a second person so that you can keep the fabric relatively flat, and the debris does not spill out of the folded sides. Tapping firmly on the wire mesh periodically while skirting will cause loose debris and seconds to fall through the wires so that you do not have to do all of it by hand.
- If you are using an electric saw, wear eye protection and follow all safety procedures. Turning the table over and changing from one set of legs to another should be a team effort; injury may occur if you try to set it upright by yourself.
- Pamela Harshman; Alpaca Breeder; Ft. Myers, Florida
Alisha VanHoose Torres is a variety writer in Florida who spent eight years working for small newspapers, including three years as the Editor-in-Chief of "The Current" at Nova Southeastern University. She holds a degree in psychology with a strong background in biology, which she uses as a framework for her research.