Harden Antler

nogie1717
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nogie1717
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Joined: April 6th, 2016, 2:43 pm

May 7th, 2018, 10:57 pm #1

I was wondering if antler can be hardened by heat or anything like that. Yes, I could experiment, but just thought I would see if reinventing the wheel would be necessary in this instance.


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VirginiaKnapper
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VirginiaKnapper
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Joined: March 13th, 2018, 4:32 pm

May 8th, 2018, 1:59 am #2

     I have read, in John C. Whitaker's Flintknapping: Making and Understanding Stone Tools, that old antler can/may be hardened by soaking it in glue, not completely sure if it was regular or super glue, I think regular. I propose that if you want to do it traditionally, it would be fascinating to use hide glue. I have read of this, but I have never tried it.

Frank
"It's about what you learn, not what you make" - Erret Callahan
"Nothing like busting out a Savannah River out of some gnarly shit." - Robert Godshall, 1st annual ThunderRidge knap in.
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boletus
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Joined: July 22nd, 2016, 6:15 pm

May 8th, 2018, 3:05 am #3

Ive heard of burnishing the tip on a hard, smooth rock. Ive also heard of quickly rubbing the tip of the tine on leather (I think it was leather) to get it really hot by friction and harden it up. I havent practiced either of these though.
-Jason
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Hummingbird Point
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May 8th, 2018, 9:21 pm #4

A little heat does seem to help, but maybe all it does is make sure the antler is completely dry, which is important.  I live in a fairly humid area and cheat by always keeping my antler tools inside.  If I am remembering correctly:  Scott Silsby was talking about using antler chisels to carve wood and he said he would keep them in good shape by rubbing vigorously on a leather knapping pad.  He felt this both burnished and that the friction caused enough heat to harden the antler.  I may be remembering wrong, but don't  cost nothin' to try it!

Keith
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nogie1717
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May 8th, 2018, 9:36 pm #5

Thanks all for the suggestions.  We get humidity and while I normally keep my stuff in the house, the boss asked that I keep it in the shed.  It isn't a problem until I have done a few passes and then I notice more antler "dandruff" on the edge of the piece I'm working.  It isn't an issue, it just makes me spend more time refurbishing my antler tools.  I am going to try the suggestions above and, hopefully, update on their respective affects.  
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Hummingbird Point
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May 8th, 2018, 10:01 pm #6

Oh, that being the case, could you run an experiment?  I heard something about a site in Georgia where they found some kind of bone artifacts packed in wood ash and I was thinking that would probably be a really good way to store them so they wouldn't get too soft or rot from humidity.  So I was thinking maybe a plastic bucket  with a lid, or a bag of some kind, with a layer of wood ash in the bottom to store antler tools in?  If you try it and it works, let me know.  
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MatSu
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May 8th, 2018, 10:36 pm #7

I dress mine up on a piece of sandstone, then burnish on a piece of dry wood. Hardwood works better. I use a split log that I pulled from the woodpile. But you can use a piece of 2 x 4. Depending on the quality of the antler, you may have to redress and burnish every two to six passes.

Ken
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nogie1717
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May 11th, 2018, 1:06 pm #8

Trial 1 was heating the antler tip over a candle and then burnishing on a smooth rock.  I am thinking I over heated the tip of the antler as it broke/splintered in ways that shouldn't happen when pressure flaking obsidian.  To be sure, I used other antler just fine.  I haven't given up on heating, I just need to be more careful - lower and slower.
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VirginiaKnapper
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May 11th, 2018, 3:16 pm #9

One of the most nurturing experiences as a learner is experimentation and practice.

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"It's about what you learn, not what you make" - Erret Callahan
"Nothing like busting out a Savannah River out of some gnarly shit." - Robert Godshall, 1st annual ThunderRidge knap in.
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Brian T
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May 11th, 2018, 9:23 pm #10

Antlers are not so very different from thick bone.
Each is a scaffold of protein, very heavily encrusted with mineral.
Fresh, some water content is to be expected.

When antler dries, it shrinks of course.  Don't record book measurements get done after 90 days or something like that?

All I can see happening with excessive heating is that sure, the antler dries a bit but worst of all,
the protein mesh/matrix gets cooked.  That degrades whatever strength it contributed.
Has to be some heating from the friction of burnishing.  Maybe that's all it can take.
I read the HP in po.st #4 has already said those things.
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