The professional first of all selects feathers from either one wing or the other of the bird, never taking them at random from both wings. He sorts them for equal size and sees that none has the fiber stripped. Taking up a feather, with his scissors he trims off the side opposite the one wanted, and snips off any extra quill at the ends. With a knife of the best steel rather thin and very sharp, and the feather laid flat on a hardwood block (lemonwood, beech or any other that has not distinct grain to guide the knife) he splits the quill, trimming down until the desired depth of base for the feather is obtained. Then reversing his knife and holding the feather erect with the quill on the board he cuts the quill to a width of 1/32 inch. This rib of quill holding the feather is ready for gluing as soon as the feather is cut to the desired proportions, about 1/2 inch high by 2 1/8 inches long.
Before the feathers are glued on, however, the professional, having an eye for system and efficiency, gives them a softening treatment. He takes a woolen cloth sufficiently large to hold the number of feathers he intends to use, and having soaked this in lukewarm water spreads it out, lays his cut feathers neatly upon one part of it, inside up and never on top of each other, and covers them with the other half of the cloth. On top of the cloth he places a perfectly flat hardwood board, and on top of that any handy weight. In thirty minutes the feathers are straight, soft and ready for use.