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I have a Deer Antler, raw and whole.... now what?

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I have recently gotten hold of a 70cm long deer antler and I want to turn part of it into a set of runes as a Christmas present for a friend... The only thing is that I have absolutely no idea how to do that.

I have never really done any carving, but have always been crafty and prefer using my hands to make things. Any suggestions, tips, links, book/video recommendations, tool suggestions, etc. welcome. and very much appreciated. I've been looking forward to diving into something like this for a long time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Rebecca.D,

Use some search terms in the Search option at the upper right of the page.  Using ' antler ' would be a good start.  There has been much discussion about carving this material.  

Sorry to deflect answering, but there is a wealth of information already posted on the forum about carving antler, tusk and bone, in much broader detail than a singular response could give.  Your first ' Search ' response will present a lot of reading material, and will launch your pursuit of answers and recommendations easily.

Let us know how your concept is working out.


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Hi Rebecca ! What’s a rune?

I just started working with antler again using a flex-shaft type tool.

a big improvement over my old hand held type. The flex shaft type is twice as fast and easy.

also , working with antler stinks, I mean it literally stinks like burned flesh or something.

use at least an N95 mask and safetey glasses, leather gloves.

would like to hear what some of the pros have to say as well!

nice to meet you btw :) 

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On the forum there are topics and posts about extraction fans of all sorts, from built in with capture trays to a box fan with a filter the same size as the fan ... all designed to capture the dusts.  Filters should have the best rating for smallest particle capture.

Here is one among many results from a search (upper right corner of window) using "extraction":


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  • 1 month later...

What kind of antler? Antler has a thin wall of carvable material surrounding a soft porous pith that can literally be soaked in water and dug out with a spoon. The hard outer carvable material is the most beautiful stuff to work with, you don't have to use power,  rasps, files, scrapers and wood carving tools are very effective. 

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