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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Joined: 19 Sep 2004
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Posts: 344

PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 2:21 pm    Post subject: Help Needed Finding a Source for Bone Handle Material         Reply with quote

I am interested in adding a reproduction of an 18th century cutlass to my collection. Since bone was such a common material for grips on these swords, that is what I would like to go with, but I am having trouble finding a source for bone. What I am looking for is a piece that is 4 1/2" to 5" in length. The grip will be filed into an octagon shape, so it needs to be thick enough to be a solid grip after all that is done -- probably close to 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" in diameter.

Also, the bone needs to be stabilized, though I am not sure how to do that if I end up having to get raw bone from a butcher.

Any information or leads on a source for stabilized bone would be greatly appreciated. Everything I have found so far is in a slab form rather than a stick.

Many thanks,
Chris

Sic Semper Tyranus


Last edited by Chris Goerner on Sun 22 Mar, 2009 3:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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Douglas S





Joined: 18 Feb 2004

Posts: 177

PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 2:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have had good luck with my local butcher. Seriously. It doesn't hurt to ask.
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Jason Mather




PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 3:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pet stores. typically they sell big 'ol cow bones for dog toys. They work great.
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Jeff Del Vecchio





Joined: 18 Nov 2008

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sat 21 Mar, 2009 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Many kinds of bone, antler, etc. are available from Moscow Hide & Fur. Their stock varies by what they have on a given day, but their online catalog is up to date. Obviously, they also sell leather, hides and furs. Just in case anyone wants to make a bearskin armor. Seriously, they have interesting stuff.
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R D Moore




Location: Portland Oregon
Joined: 09 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Mar, 2009 10:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here re a couple more sources:
http://popsupply.bizhosting.com/handle_material.html

And these people I have experience with and can recommend them to you:
http://www.texasknife.com/vcom/index.php?cPath=587_588

Great customer service and fast order processing. You could epoxy two slabs together if you had to, then lock them snugly in a vise(in nylon jaw protectors or something similar) and file or sand the facets. If you have access to a band saw you could draw the octagon on each end and cut the facets in to rough shape it. Perhaps they could cut a custom piece for you, too. Post some pics of you progress for us. It sounds fun.

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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N. Prauda




Location: Finland
Joined: 10 Jan 2008

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sat 21 Mar, 2009 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jason Mather wrote:
Pet stores. typically they sell big 'ol cow bones for dog toys. They work great.


Just a quick note on this if I may.

At least around here the big cow bones at the pet stores are oven roasted. This makes them keep longer, but also makes the bone quite brittle. Not what you want in bone you'll be using for a handle.

-n.
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Josh Watson





Joined: 20 Dec 2008

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sat 21 Mar, 2009 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, you could try killing something. Shouldn't be hard to take a deer in Virginia and then you have all sorts of useful material. You can usually find someone to do the messy work, too.
The first step to becoming wise is to know that you know nothing.
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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Joined: 19 Sep 2004
Likes: 14 pages

Posts: 344

PostPosted: Sat 21 Mar, 2009 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the suggestions, gentlemen. Unfortunately, I am not able to find the size bone I would need from any of the links, and I would rather not laminate slabs together -- I am sure the seams would be visible in the final product.

The pet store bone idea is interesting, but I am afraid, as N. Prauda pointed out, that the bones are baked and that may weaken the material.

So, if I need to go the route of getting a bone from the butcher, does anyone know how I would go about stabilizing it? Do I need to just let it sit for a year and let it dry out like wood, or can I put it trough a process to stabilize it faster?

Thanks,
Chris

Sic Semper Tyranus


Last edited by Chris Goerner on Sun 22 Mar, 2009 3:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jason Mather




PostPosted: Sat 21 Mar, 2009 4:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Goerner wrote:
Thanks for the suggestions, gentlemen. Unfortunately, I am not able to find the size bone I would need from any of the links, and I would rather not laminate slabs together -- I am sure the seams would be visible in the final product.

The pet store bone idea is interesting, but I am afraid, as N. Prauda pointed out, that the bones are baked and that may weaken the material.

So, if I need to go the route of getting a bone from the butcher, does anyone know how I would go about stabalizing it? Do I need to just let it sit for a year and let it dry out like wood, or can I put it trough a process to stabalize it faster?

Thanks,
Chris


soak it in linseed oil. That should take care of the dryness. For the record, I have had good luck with the pet store bone.
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Mar, 2009 5:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you get bone from a butcher, not a cook, it should not have been subjected to damaging heat. A cow leg bone should be massive enough for just about anything you would undertake, and usually has a pretty solid core.

The most common application of bone today is probably for stringed musical instrument bridges. (Where strings are supported before poking down towards sound holes or going into tuning areas.) You can find some pretty good articles on exactly how to prepare cow bone from the butcher if you look around musical instrument DIY type articles. Leaving the bone at an ant hill during dry weather is supposed to be one of the easier ways to get the initial cleaning done after returning from the butcher. Exposure to water softens it, so, it is best to be conservative with drying it after any soaking process. Excessive bleaching will weaken it. That said, longevity requires getting most (not all) of the oil out of it. I have not tried this. But, most who do are careful to limit soaking time. (Various recipes and approaches seem to recommend 30 minutes to 2 hours.)

http://www.banjohangout.org/lessons/files/171.txt
http://www.bearmeadow.com/build/materials/html/bone-clean.html

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!


Last edited by Jared Smith on Sun 22 Mar, 2009 7:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Sat 21 Mar, 2009 5:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Instead of bone, you could try deer antlers. Depending on where you live they could be quite easy to find laying around in the woods. I have a small antler I have slated for a knife handle, just waiting on the right blade to come along. Finding something big and straight enough for a sword hilt might be a chore though. As far as I know, antlers are usually fine as is, unless you get a particularly fresh or old one. I've had this one around a couple of years now and nothing about it has really changed.
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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Joined: 19 Sep 2004
Likes: 14 pages

Posts: 344

PostPosted: Sun 22 Mar, 2009 3:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared,

Thanks for that link -- it was just what I needed. Fascinating information. I think obtaining a section of bone from the butcher and following these steps is the way to go. Once I have time to attempt this, I will document the outcome on myArmoury for those who may have some DIY aspirations of their own.

Chris

Sic Semper Tyranus
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Sun 22 Mar, 2009 8:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Goerner wrote:
Jared, Thanks for that link -


Welcome .. and good luck!

I added another more detailed link targeted specifically at cleaning cow bone. The directions should be adequate. Hydrogen peroxide seems to be recommended if you are going after that extra white look. It is not supposed to weaken the dried structure.

I would get an extra long drill bit and drill through the marrow first to help it dissolve out quickly. You can order 6" or 8" long small diameter bits from Jamestown Distributors if you don't see any in your hardware store. http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userport...^page~GRID

Jamestown Distributors probably also have round rasps for shaping the bone handle.

When it comes to drying, some have suggested placing it up on a hot roof so that wandering animals don't steal your prize!

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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