Author Topic: Stabilizing bone or antler horn??????  (Read 2952 times)

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Offline MATT CHAOS

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Stabilizing bone or antler horn??????
« on: May 02, 2012, 06:51:16 PM »
How important (or not) is it to stabilize antler horn and bone when using those for knife handles?  I am wondering if it is needed or not.  Anyone have some information or opinions on this?

I posted this in WW's post: The dyed wood you guys use. But no one answered.  :shrug:
Here is the original thread for reference: http://bladesandbushcraft.com/index.php/topic,1056.msg20838.html#msg20838
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Offline GrowlingBear

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Re: Stabilizing bone or antler horn??????
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2012, 07:54:43 PM »
I wish I had a real answer for you Matt, but I have limited experience with it.  From what I figure, it's been used for tools and handles for thousands of years, so it must be a suitable material as is.  You can probably give it a wipe-down with tung oil finish every once-in-a-while to protect it a bit.  I've heard of people using BLO on antler, but I think it would discolor it too much for my tastes.  That's why I think tung would be preferable.
Is there such a thing as too many knives?

Offline Half Axe

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Re: Stabilizing bone or antler horn??????
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2012, 09:01:25 PM »
Matt, I've only built two antler handled knives, so my experience is limited as well.  I finished mine by wet-sanding with 400-grit and 600-grit, followed by buffing with a white buffing compound I bought at Sears.  I've used them for a year now and had no problems with them.  The oils from my hands have not discolored them, so I'm not anticipating any problems with staining.  I'm going to test one with a drop of blood in an inconspicuous spot and see what happens, and report back with the results.  If it turns out to be a problem, I'll be considering using beeswax as a sealer.

Offline Sudz

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Re: Stabilizing bone or antler horn??????
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 06:32:00 AM »
My experience only (not a recommendation by any means) has been that the newer the antler the better when using it for projects. After a while or if they have been in the sun they will calcify, get chalky and much more porous. If using the latter then I like to seal the working pieces with as much Cyanoacrylate that it will absorb and then buff with a white or rouge compound THEN polish with a wax (in my case I use Renaissance Wax). If the antler is a newer shed that hasn't been exposed to idle sun, then some of the aforementioned process can be delayed, although I tend to fill a bit of the spongy portion or middle with a bit of CA as well.

Bone is much the same although if using a newer Beef bone, it is quite a bit more dense and doesn't need as much attention IMO. Using a found bone like Deer/Elk again in the elements the properties of the bone are leached out by the sun and elements, so ere on the side of adding some CA as well. Doesn't hurt and is worth the minimal expense. I also use it when working with Ivories.

All said, much of it depends on what shape and stage of deterioration (or lack thereof) of the material you are wanting to use. On antler handles I have also heard of folks soaking them in BLO or Boiled Linseed Oil with Great results, obviously success may be different for everyone. If cutting scales for a knife try and stay with the outermost, dense portion and if using a full round portion try and find one that is just right in diameter. Hope some of this blather is marginally helpful....

Offline MATT CHAOS

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Re: Stabilizing bone or antler horn??????
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 06:47:15 AM »
Thanks everyone.  I really appreciate your insights on this topic!

 :)
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Offline Half Axe

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Re: Stabilizing bone or antler horn??????
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2012, 09:58:17 PM »
Matt, I applied a drop of blood to one of the antler handles and left it on until it was dry, then washed it off.  It didn't stain the antler, so I'm not going to treat them with anything.  Hope the information helps you out.