Turning Antler...

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Forum topic by Troutsman posted 01-17-2012 01:03 AM 2007 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Troutsman's profile


16 posts in 2566 days

01-17-2012 01:03 AM

I have been turning now for about 3 weeks and had researched many different ways and methods to turn bone and antler. I have come to the conclusion that this material plays havoc on your tools and because of this I came up with my own method that has worked excellent for me.

I found some where searching how individuals used old files and square chisels as a scraper and have adopted this for antler. I will grind a crude edge on a flat chisel and start attacking the antler with it. I go back often (half way through if making a pen) to the grinder to touch up the edge so it still cuts with ease. This has saved my tools and endless time sharpening to keep a crisp sharp edge. After knocking down the material to the approximate shape, I then get out the better chisels to finish up.

Still being green I am sure there is an easier way; but, I figured this was the best way to break the material down for my limited sharpening skills. I welcome everyone’s comments and ideas.

I will upload a few projects as soon as I can to show the results.


5 replies so far

View Darell's profile


435 posts in 3798 days

#1 posted 01-17-2012 02:31 AM

I turned my first antler pen today. Used my Easy Wood Tools Ci2 easy rougher. Makes short work of the antler and leaves a very smooth finish requiring not a whole lot of extra sanding.

-- Darell, Norman, Ok.

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3191 days

#2 posted 01-18-2012 02:50 AM

Like Darell above I would recommend carbide.
I made my own tools instead of buying the Easy Wood Tools.
I just used 1/2” square stock for the shank and drilled and tapped a hole for a screw to hold the cutter in place.
I have used a few different brands of carbide tips and the easy wood replacement tips are the best I have found.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View otherguy's profile


5 posts in 2525 days

#3 posted 01-18-2012 03:01 AM

Would love to see them, I really like deer antler pens

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3474 days

#4 posted 01-18-2012 03:50 AM

You can find a lot of nice carbide tips at Carbide Depot- – or any local machine tool supplier. You can then use various types of round stock for a holder – I weld or braze my holders and then drill and tap set screws to lock them in – Once you have a profile in mind, you can find a satisfactory tip….then it is just a matter of personal choice as to the holder and how long a handle, weight, balance…..etc.

If you don’t want to go so far as crafting a holder for the tips, you can also purchase cheap sets of used or new turning tools and cut/grind them to your own profiles. Antler will turn as easy as wood, if your tools are sharp…if you use dull tools it can crumble or chip the horn.

Sharpening is easy once you get the knack. You just need to determine the optimal bevel angle and go from there. I use diamond stones mostly, but I also use water stones, ceramic stones….and some glass squares with psa sandpaper of various grits. You can either purchase a sharpening jig (something that holds your tool at the proper attack angle to the sharpening media) or make your own….There are also the various mechanical sharpening systems like Tormek and their clones….(personally, I do not see the purpose of spending lots of $$ for a sharpening system that you can do by hand easily and very cheaply). My system consists of a couple of angle cut pieces of wood to get my angle set on the tool I am sharpening…I then will hone with a leather strop or a very fine grit paper or stone.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Troutsman's profile


16 posts in 2566 days

#5 posted 01-31-2012 07:17 PM

Thanks for all the extra information and different methods of turning Antler.

@ SASmith, I would love to see your tools that you made and a little more detail on how you accomplished it.

@ Reggiek, Thanks for the link for the carbide tips. This sppears to be a very inexpensive way to come up with excellent tools to turn with. What size do you rill and tap the ends of the tools for the set screw? Do you have and more detail you could offer here and possibly a picture or two?

@ Otherguy, Here is a couple pictures of the pens I have turned out of antler;

Deer Antler

Deer Antler

Deer Antler

@ Darell, would to to see your pen, you have other great works and I bet the antler turned out great as well!

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