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I need to alter a bunch of in-house developed .debs, mainly to remove some dependencies that are common to all those packages. So, my question is do I need to take the source for all of them, and recompile ? Or is there any another way to modify them ( opposed to making a package from scratch ) ? Am I being very off if I say I need to do a dpkg-deb --extract and --control, edit, and then --build ?

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I can't think of any reason why an extract, modify, rebuild wouldn't work, as long as the application will still work without that dependency you are removing.

I wouldn't remove the dependency if the package actually requires the other package. If it is just strongly desired, it probably should have been a recommended.

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