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Deer bone for scales, any tips?

The*Cincinnati*Kid

Well-Known Member
While I was cleaning the garage yesterday I saw a pair of deer hoofs that were hanging above the work bench. They were given to my brother with some venison & have been hanging there collecting dust for about 14 years. Since I was bored and drunk I got the idea that I would strip one of them to the bone to see if perhaps I could make a set of scales out of them. Once I got all the sinew off I cleaned out the marrow and then gave them a light sanding with 80 grit then a sanding sponge. I have read allot on the subject of making scales but I have never made a set. I was hoping some one would give me some pointers on how to proceed from here, or if this is possible with the piece of bone I have before I spend time stripping the other one. The bones dementions are 5&1/2" long 5/8" tall on one side 3/4" on the other & 3/4" wide. I also would like to know if it's possible to use the hoof/nail for a spacer? I personally do not hunt, but was raised by the motto "Don't kill it if your not going to eat it!!!". The venison steaks were the best I have EVER had, and would love to put its hoofs to use finally.

Before pic
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After pics
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Thanks
Louis.
 

Smythe

Well-Known Member
I have never worked with bone... scratch that... I have worked with bone but only on vintage razors. Bone works like wood (though there is more variety of texture/color in wood).

I an no expert... but I suspect after 14 years that bone is pretty dry... but since it was covered with sinue, I suggest you give it some more time to dry again. so split down the middle with a saw and give it some more time to dry, then shape each piece as if you are working with wood... BTW When bone is dry it can be brittle.

As I said, I am no expert with bone, but hopefully some one with experience will chime in.
Keep us posted
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
OK, here are a few things you need to know about using bone for scales.

First, make sure you wear some type of respirator when sanding the bone, the dust is very toxic to your lungs.
Second, once you have the two slabs cut and sanded to size, start to impregnate the bone with CA on both sides. This will seal off the porosity of the material and will give you a smooth surface to work with.
Third, Polish both slabs with a buffing wheel and buffing compound. Make sure you have a completely polished surface on both sides before you start to shape the pieces.
Fourth, once the pieces are cut and sanded to shape, re-seal with CA and then polish again, then you can start to assemble the razor.

I have tried to cut corners before and it doesn't pay to try.

The hoof is really to soft to use as a wedge, but here is a suggestion - Make a wedge out of something hard, like wood or a left over piece of bone. Fit the wedge using microfasteners and be sure it is the correct angle. Once you are sure of that, take the wedge and remove 1/16" to 1/8" all the way around it. Then cut the hoof in a strip and super glue it to that removed area and sand the sides smooth to the wedge. Mount the wedge and no one will know the difference. Just make sure the mating edge of the strip is inside where the blade will hide the seam.

Good luck,

Ray
 

deighaingeal

Well-Known Member
Ray,

will sealing the bone before shaping eliminate or reduce the chances of getting the pores filled with particulates as they are worked? Or is there another purpose? I have never liked to look of dirty pores.
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
deighaingeal said:
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Yes. Every time you seal the bone, before further sanding or cutting, eliminates the possibility of filling the pores you aren't working on. As soon as you are finished doing something, seal it every time and you will not have to worry about changing the color of the bone.

Ray
 

The*Cincinnati*Kid

Well-Known Member
Thank you Ray. I was hopping that you would see this thread and give me some pointers from your past experiences. I haven't had the time to begin yet, but this information will be a big help when I do.

Thanks again
Louis.
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
Louis,
Send me the blade, bone and hoof material and I will take care of it for you if you like.

Ray
 

The*Cincinnati*Kid

Well-Known Member
Ray, this is a very generous offer I really appreciate you offering to but I want to make these scales myself, because they are for a razor that I plan on giving to my nephew when he is old enough to shave. Although I will probably be asking for some advise here and there considering your experience is invaluable. I still need to do some work on the blade that will be housed in these scales & there is no hurry considering he is only about to turn three. I will definitely post pics of the final product when I get finished. Thanks again for the offer and advice. Oh, do you have any ideas on how I can get this pin out without damaging the scales/brass thingy. I was thinking a nail punch, because there isn't enough room to cut the tip of the pin off. This is my latest purchase a Joseph Elliot's 7/8" faux frame-back wedge that I got for a steal!!! It has a little rust that needs cleaning up.Thanks.
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Regards
Louis.
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
janivar123 said:
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Well put.

You will need to reduce the size of the head on the pin someway in order to punch it through. You want to use a drift punch instead of a nail punch. The drift punch is not tapered like a nail punch, but even at that, the 1/16" drift punch will need to be sanded ever so slightly to reduce its diameter. Out of the box, it will blow the back of the scales out when you try to tap the pin out. You will also want to use a block of wood, under the back of the pin, with a hole about 1/8" to drive the pin through. This will help support the back scale during the tapping.

Good Luck!

Ray
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
richmondesi said:
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It sure does. Sealing the bone with CA will usually take care of the issue. You could also use Minwax wood hardener, but I think the CA will do the trick since several healthy coats will be needed and the bone will absorb it quite well.

rh
 

decraew

Well-Known Member
Ray,
I have a question: would you also apply a sealer when working with water buffalo horn ?
Thanks,
Wim
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
decraew said:
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Good question.

Buffalo Horn has a totally different composition than bone or antlers. It is obviously more pliable and has a greater tendency to expand and contract than other materials. Because of this, it is important to design your scales with a triangular wedge, to not only allow for any taper in the neck of the blade, but also to preload the scales so that they would have a harder time to twist or warp in one direction. Using a "flat" wedge, one without a taper, will almost guarantee an eventual warp in the scales.

You have also probably read threads where someone asks how to eliminate the crazing or crappy look in a set of horn scales. The answer is to soak them in Neets Foot Oil. The horn will absorb the oil and the deterioration process will stop almost immediately.

If you have a set of horn scales that are warped, the easiest way to take the warp out is to boil the scales in water, pull them out, reshape and let them cool off. Warp gone and back to normal.

I have never tried to stabilize horn because there never seemed to be a need to, strictly based on my past experience. If you decide to try it out, let me know what happens 5 or 6 months down the road, I would be interested in finding out.

Ray
 

rayman

Well-Known Member
You are correct about horn being less porous but it is still thirsty for oil. Remember that horn has a similar makeup to finger nails of which oil is a good thing.

rh
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
rayman said:
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That mirrors my experience exactly Ray, I have worked with both new and antique horn scales, and all of the above is just how I have found them.

One thing I might add, if your scales dont need oiling up to stop any deterioration, you may want to try a good wax polish on them, works wonders for me.

Regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 
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