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Peter H

Sealing Bone (Finish)

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I was wondering if anyone can share any experiences about putting a finish on a bone to seal it?


Lets say I make a necklace that is gonna be worn close to the skin. Will it absorb moisture and oils from the body if not sealed? I have decided to put a thin layer of bees wax on the bone as a finish. (I use my dremel tool and a polishing bit)

I did notice that dirt gets caught on the wax so the item gets more dirty easily but I dont know.. if I skip the wax will the bone absorb moisture? or should I use something else? I kinda like the wax it smells nice too.... I linked a bone carving I did. It has thin layer of wax on it. I did not polish it with fine grit sandpaper beforehand because I thought the wax would make it matt looking again.. any thoughts? Im still a noob :P

Thanks for the feedback !



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Hi Peter


My understanding with bone carvings is that the natural oils from the skin will be absorbed imparting a natural lustre to the carving.

The New Zealand Maori believe that worn this way, the spirit of the wearer will also be absorbed, thus making the Taonga (Treasure) more personal.

I should point out that I am not Maori, but this is what I understand.


As far as polishing is concerned, I would never use wax as I believe that a nice smooth finish with varying degrees of sandpaper will be sufficient.

Once a desirable finish is obtained, an evening in front of the TV rubbing the carving between thumb and fingers will give a surprising shine.

(It will also show up minute scratches which you may or may not wish to sand further)

Hope this helps




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There are many degrees of fine sand paper, and micro mesh. I move through the grades upwards to a point that a high gloss is achieved where I want it glossy. I will not go so high if I want contrast between dull and shiny. If oil is added for protection, the dull/shiny will be less obvious.


Sanding papers in my kit from 150 ,180, 220, 320, (rarely used), 400, 600, 1,000, 1,500, 2,000 and newly 2,400. Some of these higher grits were found at the auto body section of auto parts stores.


MicroMesh from around 2,000, 3,200, 4,000, 6,000, 8,000, 10,000 and 12,000. Very high gloss with these stages with bone, tusk, very dense hardwoods.


I also use my tools as a micro-plane, lightly shaving off the scratches and uneven surfaces until the desired effect is achieved. Sanding is not always necessary for reshaping the surface. It is used after micro-planing to enhance the smoothness and feel of the piece, and for places that are not easily reached by the sharp tool


Natasha Popova described a mixture that she uses on the surface of her extraordinary sculptures, somewhere here on the forum. You might use paraffin for a key word search. It did bring up various hits.


One may also use Renaissance Wax which will dry clear and non sticky. It will even out dull and shiny to some degree but will not smooth uneven surfaces.



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Hi Charla,

Somewhere on TCP are the same photos of the tools on this web page: http://janeljacobson.com/toolsstudio/tools2012.html


Wow!  I just drag/dropped the image from the web site!!! This new version has some major changes that are positive!




The top image shows the tools that I turn to for planing on wood, bone, tusk materials.  These may have been made with 3/16" rod.  The tools are versatile, having three edges, one straight and two curved to various degrees.  The straight edge on the right, kept very sharp, is the main shaver in most cases.  These may or may not be too big for your purposes, so creating tools of the sizes that work for your needs will be up to you. 

You may find through the new SEARCH function more topics and posts focused on using drill rod tool making processes with hardening and tempering, (I like the new search feature)  so I won't go into it here.

If you look at my tool page you will see tools sized down to needle diameters and up to 1/4" diameter stock.



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