BoneMan

Bone Carving

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Hello all. I am a new member to this site, and I am searching for ways to prepare bone for carving. I had some instructions I had written once, but have been lost, and I cannot find where I acquired them. Any advice on this preparation would be welcome.

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Welcome BoneMan!

 

There are a few members who are bone carvers on the forum who may chime in and offer their own techniques for bone preparation. One topic from The Carving Path archives of posts describes one or two methods HERE, and I think with deeper use of the SEARCH functions, one might find more in the discussions on TCP.

 

A link provided from another TCP member, Jake, who posted information about degreasing and using cow bone: ..."an excellent description of how to clean bone thoroughly, written by Sean Barry, luthier and formerly museum curator." This one is pretty a thorough description, with cautions about not mixing cleaning ingredients and other potential risks.

 

Welcome to the forum!

 

Janel

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Hello all. I am a new member to this site, and I am searching for ways to prepare bone for carving. I had some instructions I had written once, but have been lost, and I cannot find where I acquired them. Any advice on this preparation would be welcome.

 

Boil in vinegar remove gristle and any fat with knife. Rinse and let dry. cut out required shape and use either rotary tools or gravers to shape carving. protect lungs with dust mask if using rotary tools. have fun

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hi bone man...

 

personally, Im no expert and there are different ways of doing it, but i start by cutting away all the meat etc away from the bone. Try and get as much as you can as later, if not done properly, any remain bits of fat can later leach into the bone. I cut away any bone that i am unlikely to use to reduce the risk of fat leaching later. (trust me, its disheartening to see unwanted stains a few days after so much hard work has been done in cleaning). I use beef shin bone, im not sure if it has a higher fat content than what you may be using but i know that it takes abit of elbow grease in the whole process. After i have taken away as much meat tendons etc as possible i soak the bones on VERY hot water (not boiling) with one cup of disinfectant and one cup of bleach for 2-3 hours. Then i take them out and clean them more if need be. I then repeat the soaking process with another lot of bleach and disinfectant and leave for another 3 hours.

Then i take them out and thoroughly rinse them and leave them to dry for a few days.....

 

Hope some of this helps, and as i say, this is just the way that i do it....

 

Nath.

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oh, nearly forgot....before the soaking stage, take out the bone marrow on the inside (if your using beef shin bone) with a table knife...get it ALL out! Then get a cheap $2 bottle brush and clean the inside of it under hot water.

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If you want to completely degrease bone, visit brownells.com and check out a cleaning compound called Dicro-Clean 909. It is a compound used to degrease gun parts for blueing. I have found several taxidermists that use it to clean skulls for the European type trophy mount. Claims are made that the compound will remove all traced of flesh and can even cause the teeth to fall out if left to soak too long. No connection with the company other than as a satisfied customer, etc, etc.. Here endeth the lesson.

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Hello all. I am a new member to this site, and I am searching for ways to prepare bone for carving. I had some instructions I had written once, but have been lost, and I cannot find where I acquired them. Any advice on this preparation would be welcome.

 

 

I'm a very patient sort, but I generally use the method of soaking my bones in a bucket of water, outside, for a month or two, longer if there's more flesh. Change the water about once every week or two until it stays clear, then drain and lay the bones out to dry. Large hollow bones (like legs) should be either split or have the ends cut off if you don't want the marrow to become a nasty residue. This method uses natural bacteria to clean the bone, and doesn't leave a greasy coating afterwards.

 

Another option is to boil the bone or carcass in water with a little dish soap. The soap will break up the grease.

 

I would not suggest using either vinegar or clorox as both will leach calcium out of the bone, making it brittle. You can use clorox to whiten the surface, but there are chemicals used by taxidermists that will work better for this.

 

LJ

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I'm a very patient sort, but I generally use the method of soaking my bones in a bucket of water, outside, for a month or two, longer if there's more flesh. Change the water about once every week or two until it stays clear, then drain and lay the bones out to dry. Large hollow bones (like legs) should be either split or have the ends cut off if you don't want the marrow to become a nasty residue. This method uses natural bacteria to clean the bone, and doesn't leave a greasy coating afterwards.

 

Another option is to boil the bone or carcass in water with a little dish soap. The soap will break up the grease.

 

I would not suggest using either vinegar or clorox as both will leach calcium out of the bone, making it brittle. You can use clorox to whiten the surface, but there are chemicals used by taxidermists that will work better for this.

 

LJ

The best answers to how to clean and prepare bone will come from a taxidermist. Taxidermy supply companies will have the best chemicals and processes for doing the the job. I have seen many people using animal bone, antler, and horn in their art and asking questions on preparation and processes of how to do one thing or another. I myself had asked how to stain pet shop beef bone and got no working answers although there were a lot of suggestions I found the answer to my question through a taxidermist. Here is just one of many places to find some information on how to clean bone Skull Cleaning there most likely are many more places to find similar information and you don't have to use the all of the products suggested in the link I provided, this was just a starting point for you to search out the process that you feel the most comfortable with. I got my information on how to stain pet shop bone from a taxidermy forum.

 

Good Luck and let us all know what you find on preparing raw bone for carving.

 

Scott

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I have done some more research on bone cleaning and preparation and found something interesting. The preferred skull cleaning and preparation is beetle cleaning. What is beetle cleaning? The process involves the use of Dermestid beetles to eat away the flesh from the bone in a natural process as not to damage the bone by boiling it. Beetle Cleaning

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I have done some more research on bone cleaning and preparation and found something interesting. The preferred skull cleaning and preparation is beetle cleaning. What is beetle cleaning? The process involves the use of Dermestid beetles to eat away the flesh from the bone in a natural process as not to damage the bone by boiling it. Beetle Cleaning

Ants are good cleaners too.

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The best answers to how to clean and prepare bone will come from a taxidermist. Taxidermy supply companies will have the best chemicals and processes for doing the the job. I have seen many people using animal bone, antler, and horn in their art and asking questions on preparation and processes of how to do one thing or another. I myself had asked how to stain pet shop beef bone and got no working answers although there were a lot of suggestions I found the answer to my question through a taxidermist. Here is just one of many places to find some information on how to clean bone Skull Cleaning there most likely are many more places to find similar information and you don't have to use the all of the products suggested in the link I provided, this was just a starting point for you to search out the process that you feel the most comfortable with. I got my information on how to stain pet shop bone from a taxidermy forum.

 

Good Luck and let us all know what you find on preparing raw bone for carving.

 

Scott

Arguably there is no "best way" to do anything when you're creating art. I never use quotes from the south, but this one seems to apply, "There's more than one way to skin a cat."

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Ants are good cleaners too.

 

 

Only if you want to clean something other than a skull. Ants end up stuck everywhere when they die.

LJ

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Arguably there is no "best way" to do anything when you're creating art. I never use quotes from the south, but this one seems to apply, "There's more than one way to skin a cat."

 

One might argue that the only way to skin a cat is to remove the skin from it. But here in the South, I'd suggest ya'll start with a dead cat if you don't want to wake the neighbors and require a tetanus shot.

 

There are "best ways" to do some things, and taxidermists clean more bones for more $$$ than even museums. They have had plenty of reason, and plenty of time to learn the best ways to clean bones without degrading them.

LJ

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I have done some more research on bone cleaning and preparation and found something interesting. The preferred skull cleaning and preparation is beetle cleaning. What is beetle cleaning? The process involves the use of Dermestid beetles to eat away the flesh from the bone in a natural process as not to damage the bone by boiling it. Beetle Cleaning

 

Dermestid Beetles are a great option- if you have somewhere inside where the smell won't be an issue, and if you have a steady supply of fresh bone. They will not degrease bone, and they must have enough to eat. I doubt there's a carver on this list who could support a healthy colony, and they can't be kept outside, unless you want ants and other insects to kill your colony. The reason they are preferred for skull cleaning is because they are fairly easy to remove from all the nooks and crannies when you're done, unlike many other insects. There are easier ways to clean the leg bones and joints that are more commonly used for carving.

 

LJ

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Hi All

This has been a fascinating thread.

My bone has always been ex soup and then ex dog and then ex a few days in the garden :blush:

Thanks to you all

Toothy

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Hi All

This has been a fascinating thread.

My bone has always been ex soup and then ex dog and then ex a few days in the garden :)

Thanks to you all

Toothy

 

 

Ok, as someone who's been known to use bone that's been ex-roadkill before cleaning, I gotta say it: Ew!

 

You do boil the ones from the garden and the dog before using, right?

Both dirt and dogs have strange bacteria that you don't want to deal with if you should nick yourself while carving....

 

Please, be sure whatever method you use involves sterilizing before carving.

LJ

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LJ

Its now 45yrs since I started using rotating instruments at speeds between 1000 and 500 000 rpm and the only time I came a cropper was stabbing myself with a syringe needle (used needle :) ) I could never take the chance of getting injured.

 

Believe me those bones are clean!! especially after the ants and a week in the SA sun, and bleached. I take your point though. They do get treated before use on the rare occaisions that I have carved them. :) Preferred human ivory :)

Toothy

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As far as germs in things we carve, I was told by an old doctor friend of mine years ago to get a tetnus shot once a year and if you do cut yourself drench the wound with hydrogen pyoxide and put antibiotic salve on it and a bandage. I have never had problems following what he perscribed. So I really don't worry about things I carve, I love to carve alot of things that at one time could have had really bad and nasty germs, I still carve!

Regards,

Debbie

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LJ

Its now 45yrs since I started using rotating instruments at speeds between 1000 and 500 000 rpm and the only time I came a cropper was stabbing myself with a syringe needle (used needle :) ) I could never take the chance of getting injured.

 

Believe me those bones are clean!! especially after the ants and a week in the SA sun, and bleached. I take your point though. They do get treated before use on the rare occaisions that I have carved them. :) Preferred human ivory :)

Toothy

 

Sun and ants don't really kill germs, especially ones in the marrow. All my bones get a clorox dip for 1 minute before use but after major cutting.

Safer that way......I'd rather not contract E. coli from un-cloroxed cow bones. And I ALWAYS wear a mask when cutting bones or doing anything to them that creates a lot of dust.

LJ

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It's been a while prepared bone for carving, but I used to do a fair bit of work with it. The last time I came across a decent supply was in a large pet store. It was pre-boiled, very clean with no marrow or fat residue, pure white and solid, and essentially ready to use. I bought about 6 pieces around 6" long for about $3 each.

 

Phil

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If you want to completely degrease bone, visit brownells.com and check out a cleaning compound called Dicro-Clean 909. It is a compound used to degrease gun parts for blueing. I have found several taxidermists that use it to clean skulls for the European type trophy mount. Claims are made that the compound will remove all traced of flesh and can even cause the teeth to fall out if left to soak too long. No connection with the company other than as a satisfied customer, etc, etc.. Here endeth the lesson.

 

Hello Goatwhiskers, how does this Dicro stuff work. I looked it up and it looks like it comes in a concentrated form. Would you kindly share some helpful tips so that I don't mess up any of my work?

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Dermestid Beetles are a great option- if you have somewhere inside where the smell won't be an issue, and if you have a steady supply of fresh bone. They will not degrease bone, and they must have enough to eat. I doubt there's a carver on this list who could support a healthy colony, and they can't be kept outside, unless you want ants and other insects to kill your colony. The reason they are preferred for skull cleaning is because they are fairly easy to remove from all the nooks and crannies when you're done, unlike many other insects. There are easier ways to clean the leg bones and joints that are more commonly used for carving.

 

LJ

 

Hello,

You mention there are easier ways to clean the leg bones. Would you kindly give me some suggestions? I've heard so many different suggestions from boiling for a couple of hours to letting them soak for a few days. I am wondering primarily how to keep the fatty tissue from spreading throughout the bone once i have finished the cleaning process. Also, I can't seem to get my pieces to look "platinum" white. would you have suggestions as to how i can get my bone carvings to look white and glossy. Currently, i use brasso but that doesn't get them as white as i've seen others get.

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Moondog:

 

I read everything on this forum that I could find on cleaning cow bones. The advice you have already been given is excellent. I only want to stress that you need to saw away any bone that has fat in it. I simmered mine for a long time in soapy water in order to get the tendons etc off the bone, and I threw in the piece that I had was not solid bone. It was amazing what a difference there was between the two. The spongy bone is almost transculent with the grease, and the solid bone, is, well, bone white.

 

Good luck.

 

Debbie K

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Hello,

You mention there are easier ways to clean the leg bones. Would you kindly give me some suggestions? I've heard so many different suggestions from boiling for a couple of hours to letting them soak for a few days. I am wondering primarily how to keep the fatty tissue from spreading throughout the bone once i have finished the cleaning process. Also, I can't seem to get my pieces to look "platinum" white. would you have suggestions as to how i can get my bone carvings to look white and glossy. Currently, i use brasso but that doesn't get them as white as i've seen others get.

 

 

I first have butcher cut off ends , enough to see the spongieform blood making part, I make soup, I remove bones, I re boil in clean water two times for several hours (just sits on stove as I do whatever I need to do, then I boil in soapy water . then I soak in ammonia and water and give them a boil, then bleach them in plain water , changing bleach water a few times for a wee or two . Most of the time they are quite nice I have given/swapped a lot bone to people I am friendly with.

 

if you don't want soup. have butcher cut off ends of bones, using a "marrow spoon" or an old guoge scoop out the marrow, then put in vice and with old chisel wack out the spongieform center, take it right to the "bone" wall now wash in soap, then saok in ammonia and water in pot on stove, with some dish soap. The soap is wetting agent, the ammonia reacts with fat (saponification) under heated conditions, it will draw more fat out , you can do two boils, then soak it in ammonia and if you are not getting a white oilish scum on the water you can eeither give one more boil in clear water or rinse well and cholrine bleach it. then reboil. 9to remove chlorine)

 

I was told by a luthier who makes fine dulcimers, if you bleach bone eventually the chlorine comes out and will destroy the face of the instrument. I wear an ank everyday I bleach everything and the test is the taste test. Since all my bone was for humans and neither cholirine or ammonia in MINUTE amounts will kill you I licked it (well it was boiled and clean). It is completely tasteless. It also does not ever smell at all.

 

but

wait wait there's more

 

If you go to a animal supply store they sell bones that are bleached white, they are 5 bucks a pop, but they are perfect white. You can get the name off the wrapper and call them write them.

 

a lot cheaper in the long run

 

But if you are like meThe occasional oil seepage make the bone look nicer, I soak my bones in tea and coffee, and the ank needs redying every 6 months or so since I wear daily and in shower. And I like the soup, it is now soup weather here. mmmm

 

tonight is califlower and elbows in light tomamto stock with herbs. mmmmmmmm

 

Bring a nice bottle of chianti and I will set you a plate!

 

ciao

 

chris

 

long (tax) Island NY

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