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Antler for handle scales


Harry Marinakis
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I'm having a bit of trouble and would like some advice.

I am trying to reproduce an old knife that obviously had antler scales on the handle. The problem is, I am having difficulty finding antler scales that are large enough for my project.

The handle measures 1-3/4 inches at the widest point (where is widens to form the pommel), and 4-1/2 inches in length. Most antler scales are only 1 inch or less in width. 

I have consider using sections of moose antler, but it's so bland. I would really like to use a colorful and bumpy antler, like what is on that old knife, but I can't find anything large enough.

Any ideas?

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"Colorful and bumpy" sounds like Sambar stag, or possibly red deer.  If the color is reddish amber, the color is artificial.  It used to be and to a degree still is usual to dip antler in a dilute solution of potassium permanganate.  This both kills any potential pests and dyes the antler deep reddish brown.  You then sand that back to make the high spots lighter while leaving the low spots dark.  Coffee and tea do this as well. So does leather dye, for that matter, and it has the advantage that you can wipe it off while wet to adjust the tone without having to sand.

Since sambar and red stag are pretty expensive, I'd think about finding and dying some gnarly elk antler.  A section from just above the crown ought to have lots of nubbins and such.

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I would also suggest elk, they get quite large and tend to have good texture, but not the best color... But that can be fixed.

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
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10 hours ago, GEzell said:

I would also suggest elk, they get quite large and tend to have good texture, but not the best color... But that can be fixed.

I can attest to the elk.  I have a bit of Elk antler, and it is quite large even for a young buck.  I have seen racks are staggering in size

 

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  -Albert Camus

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Another possibility is pistol grips, pieces cut for this purpose can be quite wide, but also expensive...

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
Buffon


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No idea if it would work, never tried it myself, and no clue about the properties of antler, but could it be possible to steam/boil the antler to make it pliable? I.e. the same general concept as a horn bow? Or would it not work? (Not sure if it only works with chitinous horn, such as ram/gazelle type stuff)

As for elk antler, yeah they're much meatier. I have one chunk I've been saving for a big machete or some such, perfect size for something big and angry.

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Harry, if you go that route, be sure to check out this thread...

https://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?/topic/34912-antler-straightening/

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
Buffon


view some of my work

RelicForge on facebook
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