Hand finishing Antler handle

Fatstrat

Well-Known Member
I'm working on my 1st hidden tang antler handle using an Elk tip. Getting to the point where I want to begin finishing the handle. All Youtube video's I've found on antler polishing, are done using a buffing wheel. Which I don't have. But I do have lots of elbow
grease. Can anyone tell me how to finish polish an antler handle? Would also appreciate info on staining and sealing. Thanks.
 

wall e

Well-Known Member
My grandfather never stained or sealed the ones he made decades ago and they are carried every elk season here in south western oregons wet cold and nasty weather with out issue. Just my little input from what Ive seen and done no sealant or stain used.
 

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
If you have an electric hand drill you have a buffer. Just get an arbor adapter that clamps into the jaws of your drill and get a buffing wheel to fit. You will need a separate wheel for each type of grit of buffing compound that you use and you will have to something that will firmly hold the knife. Leather makes good padding to protect where you are clamping it.

Doug
 

TacticallySharp

KNIFE MAKER
Potassium permanganate is what I use to color it if too much white is showing. I dip the antler in it. Let it set a bit (couple of minutes), then wipe it off with a rag. Polish with a clean rag. Lock knife in a padded vise and use a shoe shining like method. This stuff will color everything it touches and can cause burns on your skin. Wear gloves and eye protection. Pay attention to what you are doing.You can get the crystal form of it at a pool supply. I mix one cup of crystals to a gallon of water to create my purple solution. The heat from polishing changes it's color on the antler. Repeat till you get a color you are happy with. Finally I apply wax to a drill arbor buffer and buff it 3 times.It works on bone, wood, and leather too. Experiment on some scrap piece to get an idea of what it does.Hope this helps.
 
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TJ Smith

Well-Known Member
I use thin super glue. Run a bead on the antler and rub it in. cut a vinyl glove finger off the glove and put it on yours. Super glue won't stick to vinyl. Rub overlaps out, keep at it until it's shiney enough. If to shiney rub white scrub pad over the handle to dull it a little.
Take care
TJ Smith
 

wall e

Well-Known Member
You can do anything you want really its your knife. It will change the color is all really.
 

Fatstrat

Well-Known Member
I apologize for not being clear. I have a large Elk antler tip that I have made into a hidden tang knife handle. The antler is pretty much white'ish (cream etc) in color. And I want to retain that on most of it. Basically what I'm hoping to do is add brown highlights in the "veins" on the antler. The low areas running length wise along it. And still leave the top surface almost natural. Perhaps just sanded a bit smoother. What would be the best process to do this? Thanks.
 

wall e

Well-Known Member
b896d7f54e612d9d81e15ee38d5b1c2d.jpg

Like this type of antler tip? If you sand the high areas it will smooth and expose the inner white color.
 

wall e

Well-Known Member
Sorry just reread what you wrote. The antler is an older one and has bleached out. The best suggestion I have is find a brown dye and use that and sand the high points down
 

Fatstrat

Well-Known Member
Yes! That's very much what I'm hoping for. Here is basically where I am now. Need to color the antler with something. I tried leather dye on a scrap piece, but it stained the whole thing and wouldn't sand off the high areas. Want to color/seal the antler before final attaching and finishing.
IMAG0445_zps68d092a2.jpg
 

Bone Arrowhead Adam

Well-Known Member
Fatstrat, this is my wheelhouse and thus is how I got about working with Bone, Horn and Antler. Each piece is unique and achieving exacting colors and results are nearly impossible due to density, moisture content, weathering, finish etc. If you are looking to basically keep the color you have but want to darken the veins like you stated, wood stain works well. An extremely strong Tea brew also works well. Make sure the finish is somewhat polished using any method you choose. Very fine sand paper, steel wool, whatever. Make sure the piece is clean and dust free. Soak in the stain for a very short time at first and check the results. The denser portions will hardly pull in stain but the less dense portion will really pick it up.Let it dry for 24 hours once the color you like is achieved. After this soak in Linseed Oil. This oil drys as a solid and adds a beautiful luster that looks aamazing! It seals and stabilizes the bone to last virtually forever. Linseed Oil in my opinion should be used on all bone period. You can even use just the Linseed Oil alone without the stain. These are all Buffalo Bone examples...
 

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Fatstrat

Well-Known Member
THANKS! I check the look of tea stained antler and like it. Soak in linseed oil for how long? Thanks for the tips.
 
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wall e

Well-Known Member
Excellent work both of you. Im just a dabbler with a lot of free to me things and creativity and time. :)
 

Fatstrat

Well-Known Member
Well I made a pot of what I think is strong tea. 6 family size bags in a quart of water. Soaked a piece of scrap antler (off same piece I'm using as handle) overnite. Disappointed in results. It did darken the antler a bit. But not as much as I expected. Perhaps longer?
 

Bone Arrowhead Adam

Well-Known Member
That's not a strong enough brew for staining with tea. By loose leaf tea and use an ton of it! The cheap bags of lipton are not adequate. Also, 24 hours is not really that long for tea staining, I've pulled out pieces after 24 hours, let dry, and repeat for days until I get a color I'm after. The repeated drying and re-application will darken it more than one long soak. But I recommend using a wood stain of a dark color, and then a 48 hour soak in Linseed Oil.
 
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