Here is a beginner's guide to building your own fish cleaning station.
Simplicity and cost makes fish cleaning stations a ripe target for a DIY project, especially for beginners. Better yet, it lets you build a table customized to your needs and preferences. Given that potential diversity, a simple how-to feels like a bad idea. You can find those all over the internet.
Instead, here's a rundown of options, considerations, and bright ideas.
Depending on what you need, there are lots of different ways to build your fish cleaning station; you might need something portable, or something sturdier for hacking through big saltwater fish.
For the former, PVC pipe is a very popular material. Light, cheap, and more than sturdy enough for cleaning crappie, bass, and other small freshwater fish. Plus, it's very easy to work with--just cut your pipe to the right length, join and glue. No other tools necessary. See price differences for PVC from Home Depot.
Or you can work with two by fours. The tradeoffs and advantages are obvious: a stronger base, but they are heavier, more expensive, and harder to work with.
This is a pretty simple one. Polythylene cutting boards are cheap, reliable, and available for as little as $13, though they can get much pricier. The other advantage to polyethylene is that it's relatively easier to work. You can mount it with screws easily, or cut out a space for the sink. The only disadvantage: plastic is tough to disinfect.
As for your other options: wood is more expensive but workable if well-finished. It won't dull the knife edge, either. Granite is rugged and easy to clean, but very difficult to work with.
Strictly speaking, this one is optional--a hose, or even a hose attachment, is perfectly functional. That's probably the most important consideration.
If you spring for the sink, there's not that much to say. You install it more or less the way you install a sink, though caulking is, arguably, not as important. A few tips, though: if you're going to hook it up to a running water source make sure you get the right adapter.
Make sure you drain into a bucket or something else that will catch the nasty bits--some people don't bother, but it's much easier to clean. A lot of people go for the sink with the built-in hose. Not a bad idea at all.
More from Wide Open Spaces:
A DIY fish cleaning station doesn't offer a lot of opportunity to get creative, but you may want to take some inspiration from this guy. He had the bright idea of including a cup holder in his PVC-framed design. Maybe lay off the beer while you're handling knives, though. You'll notice he's drinking Mountain Dew in the video.
Now you can be as self-sufficient as ever.