G cross-sections

Antler Carving Project

I’m a writer. My funds are often. . . limited. Yeah, limited is a good word for it. But I’m supposed to be creative and stuff, and fortunately everyone in my family likes gifts that err on the side of thought and effort, rather than spending a bunch of money.

I decided to use the rest of the antler I found out hiking to make something for each of them. I debated exactly what I was going to make. I considered a bunch of things, and I wanted to make something cooler than just a polished lump of antler, yet also something I could do without screwing up miserably. My mom, gram, and sister all have names starting with ‘S’ so I figured I could probably work out how to carve one letter without too many mistakes and discarded attempts–an important criteria, since my supply of antler was quite finite.

Carving antler turned out to be easier than I expected. And harder. Easy to carve and shape, difficult to do without throwing up due to the smell of burning bone. Oh deer god did it smell! On the positive side, that did discourage them from coming out to the garage and snooping on my work.

g 1 full antler


I clamped the antler and cut it into sections about two-and-a-half inches long.


G cross-sections


You can see the thin layer sheathing the spongy bone beneath. The first order of business was grinding out that spongy inner material, which was the really really smelly part. I actually quit and found some menthol rub to smear under my nose to block out the smell.

SAFETY NOTE: If you do this, wear a mask, at least, a respirator if possible. Bone dust can cause nasty lung infections!

I had to cut the sections in half lengthwise to do that. I used a hacksaw and it wasn’t too terribly bad, although making the cut straight was a bit tricky at times.


G 2 Antler cutting

Then I got to the carving, which I didn’t take pictures of, because I didn’t feel like getting my phone coated in bone dust, plus it took some serious concentration not to screw up.

To my surprise, I got roughly what I wanted on the first pass through. I tried three different stains to seal the pieces, since they’re fairly porous and fragile–and I figured that might make them smell less “bony”.




G Makeshift Dremel


I needed a small grinder for the work, so I improvised a bit. This arrangement was much easier than trying to keep the big Dremel steady and clamp tiny bits of antler. If you try this, please note that this method does put your fingers in proximity to tips specifically selected for their ability to cut and/or grind through bone. So be careful. And not stupid. Mostly the latter, really.

I had enough leftover to make some keychain decorations for other people, include one for my dad (the side pictured here is the back, so you’re viewing the letters from behind).


g finished


The little stick figure dude is the little logo dude from a game called Kingdom of Lothing my housemate has been playing for. . . at least half a decade. As long as I’ve known him.

So I made a couple of those for friends, and I even had enough left over to make a small one for myself.

G compass


About Connor Rickett

My name is Connor Rickett. I started out in the sciences, but left grad school to follow a dream of writing and traveling. Since then I have done a fair bit of both, visiting forty-five states and several provinces, and making a living (more or less) as a freelancer and ghostwriter. Feel free to swing by my business site, CitiesoftheMind.com

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