ntlers serve as weapons and sta-symbols when they adorn head of a deer, elk, or moose. But I've discovered that when this bony headgear is shed, it's also a unique and beautiful medium for lathe work. Antler has excellent working qualities and is just the right size for small boxes, bowls, and lidded vessels.

Unlike horns and tusks, antlers are shed naturally once a year—so there's no need to harm animals that produce them. When antlers die, they separate from the head and fall to the ground; new ones grow in three to four months. You can find cast-off antlers in the wild, or buy them at flea markets or from hunters. You can also buy pieces of antler from Craft Supplies USA (800-551-8876).

Antler's Turning Properties

While it is very hard, antler is more resilient and less brittle than bone. On the downside, all antlers have a porous inner section that must be reinforced with cyanoacrylate adhesive (CA) regularly during the turning process.

somewhat similar to wood, but it lacks growth rings. The end grain of antler also responds well to chattcrwork. Use the same lathe speeds you would for small-diameter wood projects.

A word about dust. I'm not aware of any health-hazard studies about antler dust, but common sense tells me it's unwise to inhale dust from any turned material. When turning antler, always use dust collection and/or wear a proper dust mask—one that is TC-21-C- or P-series rated, with two straps. Better yet, wear a dust helmet. Helmets will also help suppress the odd odor of antler dust, which I'll leave to you to experience for yourself. A

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