View Full Version : Keeping and cleaning fish jaws?

24-09-2007, 09:35 AM
Can anyone help me out with this? I have two fish heads, a jack and a fingermark, that I'd like to have cleaned up to be able to keep, maybe just the jaws only. Should I leave them out somewhere for the ants and the like to do the dirty work, or is there some other way I can achieve this?


24-09-2007, 10:26 AM
I have done a couple by boiling then cleaning and scraping.
Cannot say it is the best approach, teeth stayed in and all went well, overboiling may cause problems??

cheers fnq

24-09-2007, 01:10 PM
Chuck em on an ant hill for a day mate... works a treat. Micgt be worth tying them down or putting a cage over the top so no birds/cats/dogs can get at them....

24-09-2007, 02:51 PM
simon do a search on this,,,,, there was a thread done awhile back with pics that showed one of the members efforts (apologies,,, forgot who),,, but they turned out great,,,,enough for me to give it a go

FNQ,, has the approach that i tried,,,,, boiled em,,, not for long,,, but i tended to then refridgerate em to keep them in one piece more for longer,,,

they turned out okay,,,, a bit fiddly,,, but a couple of coats of lacquer,,(i used clear nail polish borrowed from mrs choppa),,, and they sat proudly on my desk

THEN chopjr found em,,,,,,,, oh well,,,,


24-09-2007, 02:56 PM
this 'procedure' is for shark jaws, but you can adapt the same method to whatever fish species you want I 'spose HTH :D


ps, the author in the link goes on about not boiling them, but I have a set of M. Jack jaws that I boiled and the teeth didnt drop out....flesh was easy to scrape of and they cleaned up well.

24-09-2007, 03:35 PM
I' ve done plenty just put the heads in foil in the oven and bake when cooked remove jaws easy as and quick

24-09-2007, 08:09 PM
I' ve done plenty just put the heads in foil in the oven and bake when cooked remove jaws easy as and quick

mate i thought of this as an alternative also,,,,,, do you just bake the jaws alone,,,,, and do they hold together when your fleshing em????????

hence when i boiled mine,,, it was more like a quick dip a few times in and out to get the flesh at the ""right"" consistency to be able to flake off,,, and still leave enough intact,,,,,

the first attempt left me with a dozen ""jigsaw pieces"";D ;D ;D


24-09-2007, 09:23 PM
Thanks guys, Choppa, I did that search using the word "preserving" instead of "keeping" and came up with a post from last year by a member called dazza, he asked the same Q as me, another member talked about the boiling method and posted some pics. Only problem is, this post is before Ausfish did the server upgrade i think, so the pics aren't there. Sounds good though. I can't really go the ants nest method with a backyard with 2 dogs...;D , but I could just go bushwalking somewhere...;D ;D

I might give the internet a trawl before I try it, just wondering about places like museums or laboratories and how they'd do it for specimens.


25-09-2007, 06:08 AM
Thanks guys, Choppa, I did that search using the word "preserving" instead of "keeping" and came up with a post from last year by a member called dazza, he asked the same Q as me, another member talked about the boiling method and posted some pics. Only problem is, this post is before Ausfish did the server upgrade i think, so the pics aren't there. Sounds good though. I can't really go the ants nest method with a backyard with 2 dogs...;D , but I could just go bushwalking somewhere...;D ;D

I might give the internet a trawl before I try it, just wondering about places like museums or laboratories and how they'd do it for specimens.


mmmmmmm,,, i spose if the fish ain't biting,,,,,, what sort of dogs ya got matey???;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

just joking,,,,,,,,,,,of course

lets us know how ya faired simon,,, dazza was the culprit,,, might be worth a pm to him to see if he's still playing around with em,,,,


25-09-2007, 07:54 AM
I' ve done plenty just put the heads in foil in the oven and bake when cooked remove jaws easy as and quick

By far the best method I have used. Quick, easy and the teeth generally don't fall out. The ones that do, are the new teeth comming through. Put these aside and glue them in later.

After removing the jaws, you must clean them. I use my finger nail to get rid of most of the gunk and an old tooth brush comes in handy for cleaning around the teeth and gums.

After the jaws are clean, I then put them in a solution of 50/50 water/bleach for 2 days. Then I bring them out and rinse them good under fresh water and then leave to dry for a couple of days.

Then mock the jaws up using blue tak and use 5min araldite to set them. Once done you can then laquere them. Use the non yellowing stuff.

Then you can mount them. They look really good.

Here's a pic of a set of 22lb snapper jaws.

27-09-2007, 11:43 AM
Thanks Heath! thats some serious on the snapper, thanks for the pic mate. I think I'll go the foil wrap method. If I'm unsuccessful then I'll just have to go fishing to get some more ::) . I was thinking of putting them inside a deep glass covered picture frame, that I could hang at head height, eventually collecting quite a few different species. Another idea was to have them set in a clear resin or something similar, to set on a desk or shelf.

Choppa, I'm looking after my sister and partners place and dogs at the moment, a couple of border collie crosses, one with a dalmation the other with some russian shepherd thing, don't know what. A right pair of nutters! I'll pm dazza and see how his went.


27-09-2007, 02:47 PM
This is making me feel terrible, all you guys who catch BIG fish, pfffffftttttttttt. You've made me get the boat ready in preperation for tomorrow morning to try and catch the big'en, then i may have to re-read this thread!!


27-09-2007, 10:24 PM
i tried a slight variation on the boiling. it was very successful - suprisingly clean and did not smell the whole house out!

basically i added some detergent to the boiling water. this addition seemed to aid the denaturing process, or something like that.

as the say - a picture tells a thousand words...

i started with a spanish mac head, then carved off a fair bit of the skull

27-09-2007, 10:28 PM
step 2 was placing into the boiling water. it was a bit spooky as almost straight away the jaws started opening up to their massive gape

27-09-2007, 10:29 PM
made me feel glad not to be a jelly bean tuna

27-09-2007, 10:32 PM
it was almost as if someone was peeling the skin off for me....

27-09-2007, 10:34 PM
hey presto. minimal effort. hardly any fish under the finger nails. not quite for the kiddies though (hot, damn hot).

27-09-2007, 10:38 PM
it was a little bit of a jigsaw to put back together, but that was all part of the fun, and makes you appreciate the complexity of a fish jaw.

I liked using aquadhere (is that how you spell it) for the glueing, as it retains a bit of flex and dries pretty clear. also, the second pair i did I left some cartilage/tendon/ligament/i-don't-know-what-the-sticky-meat-was in strategic places and that was the natural glue.

i haven't mounted them in anyway yet, but I will one day.

28-09-2007, 06:09 AM
thanks for the pics jono,,,, yours turned out similar to my first effort with a jigsaw puzzle effect,,, but its good to see that the teeth on the mac didn't fall out all over the place in yours,,, i lost a few in mine

we should have threads like this placed in general chat as a sticky for reference points,,,,, or something like the recipe page,,,,,


28-09-2007, 07:39 AM
:) .............

28-09-2007, 07:43 AM

This is a post from a few years back. Thought it may interest you guy's!

30-09-2007, 09:52 PM
Magic!, Zedjack and jono, thanks for your input and pics.


01-10-2007, 08:00 AM
Not a prob.........................worth th effort and great talkning peices!!!!

02-10-2007, 09:59 PM
after reading this thread, it inspired me to give it ago with a set of jaws from a coral trout

I boiled it, cleaned it and glued it together, and now i just have to varnish it, and mount it...

I'm wrapped with the results, and it wasn't even that hard, i'll deffinately be giving it another go, next time i catch a decent fish.

Pictures to follow

02-10-2007, 10:18 PM
Attatched are the photo's:

1. The cleaned trout head
2. Boiling
3. The jigsaw
4-6. Finished item ready for mounting

It really is quite a simple project, the only problem i encountered, i used 5min areldite to glue it up, superglue would do a better job as the areldite went a yellow colour when it dried, and i had to hold it very steady for 5mins while it was drying

Good luck with it

02-10-2007, 10:18 PM
Looking forward to the pics fisher4life, I'll have to pull my finger out and get a move on mine too.


02-10-2007, 11:02 PM
I saw a few sets of trout jaws that still had the 'gums' for want of a better description on them - orange with blue spots, the rest gleaming white - looked nice, they were displayed on a section of net in a fairly casual restaurant in 1770

03-10-2007, 07:53 AM
One thing that can stuff things up is if you over baoil em......... I have heard that the teeth can fall out.then it would be a real pain in the a$$ trying to wack all them back in!

03-10-2007, 07:54 AM
Nice work Josh.........................look forward to seeing the finished product!!!

03-10-2007, 08:06 AM
Wow top thread and making u true predator hunters for jaw trophies!;D

04-10-2007, 08:20 AM
Josh, those are great pics mate! One question, I've noticed in the boil pic that the water is barely boiling at all, so more of a light simmer is the go? I was going to try the foil/bake method, but now I'm swinging towards the boil method because I'm able to observe whats going on, that way, hopefully it wont be overdone. The heads are in the freezer at the moment, I just hope that doesn't affect the outcome, but I'll defrost them first. Tomorrow after work I'll give it a go.


04-10-2007, 01:58 PM
It was only lightly boiling, but i was trying to get it to boil... i just wasn't patient enough....

All your after is heat that will cook all the meat and muscles on the head. Once they are cooked it will fall apart. I didn't time it but i'm pretty sure it was in the pan for about 10minutes or so. once i noticed the skin peel off the lis and could feel the meat in the cheeks were cooked i took it off the heat and drained it.

06-10-2007, 09:13 PM
How did you go Simon?

Attatched is a photo of the completed project.
After the jaws and the plark was varnished i just areldited the jaws in place...

09-10-2007, 10:29 PM
Apologies to all who may have been checking in on this thread, I've been run off my feet in the last few days and haven't had a chance to update, and to cap it all off, the pics that I took of the jack jaw I did on Friday night, well I'm unable to resize them for some reason. I wasted the best part of 2 hours this morning before work trying, so I'll have to wait until I get to my folks PC on thursday.

Anyway, after reading everyones input, I decided to go the boil method, for the reason that I could stand and watch and hopefully not overboil it. So, after defrosting the jack head, I put it into a saucepan of water that was just on the boil, with enough water to cover the head. Almost right away, the flesh started to peel away from around them jaws.

After 5 minutes, I removed the head from the water and began to remove the flesh, until I had all the jaws exposed. Then I was able to gently pull the jaw bones apart until I had a small pile of fleshy bones.

Then using my fingernails and the cheapo toothbrush I bought, I sat for maybe an hour slowly cleaning up the jaws. I kept a bowl of hot water nearby to dip the brush and bones into every now and then, especially the brush as that tended to hold all the flesh it removed. All of the bones separated except for the lower jaw. No teeth were lost or fell out during the procedure, however, one of the front fangs on the lower jaw, had been snapped in two at some stage.

I then put them into a solution of hot water and white vinegar overnight to help remove the last little bits of flesh. In the lower jaw there is a junction on either side where another bone fits into a socket in the jaw, there is flesh inside here and proved to be pretty fiddly to remove. At the moment they are in a solution of 50/50 water and bleach to whiten them up.

I've heard from a friend at work that I can buy a resin kit from a craft shop. Once I have the jaws set in place, I'll be able to have them set in a mould and pour liquid resin over them. Well thats the plan anyway, I'll have to look into it to see if its possible.


11-10-2007, 09:10 PM
OK here's the pics of the jaws so far. They are still being bleached at the moment. When I do the fingermark jaws, I'll do a separate thread. I've found a place to get a "water" clear resin, I just need to make a mould to put them in.


12-10-2007, 05:12 PM
Good stuff simon, the pics look great!

It's really not as hard as you'd expect.

Can't wait to see it in the resin kit

10-11-2007, 11:10 AM
Again, I've been pretty busy with work and house sitting and haven't been able to get to a PC to make another post on this. Well, it would seem that maybe the bleach solution was too strong (50/50), all the teeth fell out and it also resulted in the bones becoming soft. As I picked them out, they crumbled in my fingers. They were only there for 24hrs. I'm not game to give the fingermark jaws a go yet.:(


12-11-2007, 11:12 PM
stay away from vinegar, which as an acid will soften bones.

Try some dilute chlorine bleach, for a short time, on some other fish bones and see how you go. A purist would say that you should then flush the chlorine away -I'm slack and would just leave it for a while.

This works well for a mate of mine, but he doesn't varnish them, just glues them together and keeps them in his china cupboard:-)

If I ever get a set of jaws that really means a lot to me, I think I'll be ringing the Museum for some hints

30-05-2008, 02:10 PM
sorry meant to save this to a folder and i booted it instead,,,

i've just ""inherited"" a massive cod frame incl head from the local seafood outlet,,,,

gunna buy a bigger boiler this arvo and do some cooking


30-05-2008, 02:33 PM
Here's a set and a half of jack jaws I did some years ago, a cat got the other half while drying, hope he chocked. Just boiled, scrubbed with a tooth brush, ants for the final clean.27836

12-07-2008, 10:26 PM
tip for ya Slyman...place the jaws in the dishwasher (i baked a coral trout and saved the jaws)...there was hardly any meat or residue ligaments on it anyway (i likes me CT)...but just the mixture of hot water and the light soap action cleaned the jaws up a treat...no boil over/fish stock smell...no mess no fuss (Mrs Benno1)

12-07-2008, 11:57 PM
Geez this has been a while since this post. I never got around to the fingermark jaws, the folks whose house I was sitting had a good clean out of their freezer not long after they came home from their holiday, never saw them again.

i should have kept my snapper jaws from my PB the other week, could of had something like Heaths... ah well. Just have to catch another.

Thanks for the tip too Benno1, top dishwasher tray too i'd say.

13-07-2008, 11:16 AM
too bad about the fingermark jaws...just a subtle hint to go fishing eh :D...no worries mate...the wife puts em in the cutlery tray...hangs the bottom jaw over the holder...and the other 2 bits are just put in the bottom...