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Working with Deer Horn

Discussion in 'Steel, Hardware, & Handle Material' started by Mythtaken, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    I've got a whole box full of deer antlers and i've been trying to figure out what to do with them.

    Since I make folders, I need to turn them into scales. I remember reading somewhere about soaking or boiling pieces but it's a little fuzzy. Can anyone shed some light on how I can make scales?
     
  2. knottysticks

    knottysticks New Member

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    I recall reading a knife making forum a year or so ago, which 'suggested' that antler could be heated in boiling water for 30 mins or so, then very quickly removed from the water and placed between the padded jaws of a vise a squeezed down to straighten out slightly a curve in an antler. The article 'suggested' this should work only on small diameter antler and the antler would only accept a minor changes or it will crack. From the responses at the forum I don't think anyone had success.

    I've been working a fair amount with deer/elk/moose/caribou antler to make handles for canes and a couple hidden tang knifes[blades from Lee Valley]. I thought wow this is great , I can straighten and now use all those bent pieces of antler cut-offs I've been saving forever and a day. So I stole a pot from the wife [ssshhh] and boiled up a thin mule deer tine cut-off, quickly put it in the vise, left it for 2 weeks. After taking out of the vise I can't said I could see any change of note. Boiling seemed to only take the polish off the antler nothing more. I really only succeeded in making mule deer antler soup. Perhaps you will fair better. Antler is a bonematerial - bone.

    I add this only because you mention ' horn' . The English shape ram's horn to be used as a handle on thier canes. Horn is made of keratin [like your finger nail], when heated will soften and can be shaped a little like plastic. To make a cane handle the horn is repeatly heated and then pressed down in jigs to form it. I'm sure you could shape horn down into flat slabs that can be used as knife 'scales' [I think that's the correct word?]. After the horn is sanded and polished it is simply stunning. The hard part in all of this is finding horn. You would think living here on the prairies it would be easy to find cow horn, not so , so please share if you find a source Here is a link to a great stick making forum full of good help and techniques
     
  3. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    Thanks, knottysticks.

    I've read similar accounts concerning deer antler. (And yes, I realized later I'd written 'horn' when I shouldn't have:blush:). I was hoping someone here may have found a way to get scales out of antler but it looks like that's a bust. I'll have to stick with buying bone scale material.

    BTW you have some nice looking walking sticks!
     
  4. knottysticks

    knottysticks New Member

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    I wouldn't give up just yet. If I understand correctly what you need, why not bandsaw off 2 flats from a suitalbly sized antler tine. Make them thicker than required , then place them 'cut face' down on your table belt sander to flaten and fine tune your antler scales to the proper thickness [gloves required]. View an antler cross section, it tends to be oval shaped [mule deer more so] , the centre has a porous core which is surrounded by a dense ivory/bone covering, I think your after this dense outer ivory/bone covering. The closer you move to the tip of the antler's tine, the tine becomes more solid. The antler with the thicker ivory/bone outer covering tends to come from the older healthier deer. If your able to get yourself elk antler, I'm sure you would be able to easily cut yourself usable scales, as the the elk antler is larger with thicker ivory/bone covering. !!! NOTE - Antler dust very bad for our lungs, use a good dust mask while cutting and sanding !!! Good luck .
     
  5. Mythtaken

    Mythtaken Staff Member CKM Staff

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    I've tried that a couple of times. The results were not what I hoped. I haven't given up on that idea, though it has limited application.
     
  6. knottysticks

    knottysticks New Member

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    Sorry to hear that it didn't work out- maybe there is someone out there who has with experiance making antler scales that will step up and help us out.
     

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