Custom Knife with Damascus Steel Blade & Whitetail Deer Shed Antler

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 05-11-2008 05:09 AM 10583 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a commissioned knife project, for something similar email me at:

[email protected]

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Project Story

I met a nice guy, now a good friend, who lives about 45 minutes from me. How we met is an interesting story (at least to me). We met through my hatmaking tools posted on Lumberjocks.

But, the “route” to how that relationship started is interesting, and a tribute to the internet and lumberjocks postings.

Short Version of the Story:
I posted my Hat Making Tollikers on lumberjocks last summer. Six months later a hat maker in the UK found the posting, and emailed another hat maker in Virginia USA. That hat maker said that a great guy from Kansas was a member of his Fedora Hat forum, and gave me the guy’s email address. I sent the guy a note on the hat forum and introduced myself since we were sort of “neighbors.”

Back to the Knife Story:
After we emailed back and forth a few times, the man decided to bring his wife and come visit my family here at the house and tour my work in my studio shop. They stayed a couple of hours with us during that visit. The man then asked if he could come back the next day and ride along with me to an art show I was doing in Wichita. I said, “sure.” We had a good time getting to know each other better, just like guys do on “road trips” and he was a great help in carrying stuff and handing out brochures.

A few weeks later, he called and asked me to build him a special walking cane. I did that in the Shamrock Spirit “Sean McCool” Walking Cane about three weeks back (widget for that project is below).

During that project, he decided that he wanted another walking cane with a different style using camphor burl and bubinga, inlay, antler, and silversmithing work (future posting coming when it is finished).

As we were discussing the “Sean McCool” Cane project,

Click for details

he came to my studio shop again to see me and brought out a few deer antlers he had from hiking and looking for sheds (a fast growing hobby in this country). We looked through the various antlers he brought, and he picked out an antler set from one that his father had shot during a hunt many years back. He wanted to use a section of his “dad’s antler” to make the cane handle from. I carefully pulled the old screws out of the back of the walnut mounting board his dad had made, and asked a few more times if he was sure he wanted me to cut them up. After a few minutes, and I was sure that he was sure, I took the rack to the bandsaw and we quickly had a “cane handle.”

Ok, Ok, Back to the Knife:
In that collection of antlers, he had little unique antler, that he had in mind to use for a small knife. As we talked, we settled on a “Damascus” steel blade, which is my favorite choice also.

I scratched my head for several days (ok, quite a few days) on how to get a blade into such a small antler, but finally the idea came to me, and I was able to complete the work this week. (I purchased this damascus blade).

My new friend asked me to build him both a display stand for the knife so that it could sit on a mantle, and a leather carrying sheath that would protect the blade while he was carrying it to show people.

For the display stand I used a piece of natural edged walnut and deer antler pieces, drilling a hole in one to insert the handle through. I have done a lot of display stands for various projects in the past, but this was the first time that a knife handle lended itself to such a “hole” support.

I “learned” to do a little leather working when I was a kid in 4-H (remember those days?) and have kept my stash of leather tools all of these years. Sometimes I get to pull them out and make something in leather. I’m no expert, or full-time leather worker by any means, but it is always fun to work with and I get a little better each time I try it.

Since this knife and handle were such a unique shape and size, I had to design a sheath that would hold the blade safely, and still show off the uniqueness of the handle. I added a tooled “feather” to the sheath to dress it up a little, and a “thumb-snap” to hold the blade in place should it be worn on a belt. I left the thumb tab long, so that a quick flip of the left hand thumb could open the snap and grab the knife for defense. I hope that is never necessary, but I wouldn’t recommend on “jumping” him with a stout cane in one hand, and knife in the other.

Thanks for looking and being patient with me,
Mark DeCou

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What is ”Scrimshaw” you say?
Go to this blog, for a thorough discussion and examples of my past work:

A Scrimshaw Art Journey


If you like knives, here are some other LJ project postings of knives I have built:

Damascus Steel Hunting Knives:
  1. Elk Antler with Turquoise Nugget Custom Knife
  2. Sitka Deer Antler & Turquoise Nugget Custom Knife
  3. Large Damascus Steel Blade Custom Knife with Antler, Turquoise and Brass
  4. Custom Hunting Knife with Elk Shed Antler Handle, Ivory, Scrimshaw, and Hand-forged Damascus Blade
  5. Custom Knife with Damascus Steel Blade & Whitetail Deer Shed Antler
  6. Custom Art Knives, set of three with Damascus Steel Blades and Scrimshaw artwork
Damascus Stainless Steak Knife Sets:
  1. Elk Antler & Fossilized Walrus Six (6) Piece Steak Knife set in a box
  2. Elk Antler & Scrimshaw Steak Knives for the Gold Bar Dining Room in Las Vegas
  3. Deer Crown Antler Steak Knife Set and Box with Turquoise Inlay
Folding Knives:
  1. Custom Folding Knife with Zebra Wood, Abalone, and Scrimshaw Ready
  2. Custom Folding Knife: Elk Antler Handle, Turquoise Stone, Abalone, Nautical Scrimshaw Artwork
  3. Custom Folding Knife with Elk Naturally Shed Antler Handle
Stainless Steel Hunting Knives:
  1. Commemorative Bowie Knife with Whitetail Deer Shed Antler Handle for a Retiring Navy Seal Veteran
  2. A Young Soldier's Commemorative Hunting Knife, with Elk Antler Handle and Scrimshaw Artwork
  3. Custom Hunting Knife with Elk Naturally Shed Antler Handle
  4. Custom Deep Cut Skinner Hunting Knife with Elk Naturally Shed Antler Handle
  5. Skinning Knife, with Gut Hook, Elk Natural Shed Antler Handle
  6. Custom Knife; Frontier Bowie with Elk Naturally Shed Antler Handle

Here is my website page with knives:
Mark DeCou Studio Knife Page Website

(Note: All photos, project design, and text is protected by copyright 2007-2012 by the author M.A. DeCou, all rights reserved, no unauthorized use of this material in whole, or part is allowed without expressed written permission.)

Thanks for looking,
Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

11 comments so far

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5574 days

#1 posted 05-11-2008 05:11 AM

Send me an e-mail on the price of something like that, would you?

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5436 days

#2 posted 05-11-2008 05:25 AM


Your artistry never ceases to amaze me. You have a true gift for working with the hands as well as the ability to creatively and artistically solve problems.

Simply wonderful work.

I appreciate your projects and I fell privileged that you share them with us.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View BarryW's profile


1016 posts in 5243 days

#3 posted 05-11-2008 06:13 AM

extreme excellence.

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View Roger Strautman's profile

Roger Strautman

657 posts in 5470 days

#4 posted 05-11-2008 12:17 PM

Thanks Mark!!! You just raised the bar again, only I think it was for you because the rest of us already are having trouble with the last bar height. LOL!!!! A true artist you are. Keep them coming!

-- " All Things At First Appear Difficult"

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

514 posts in 5406 days

#5 posted 05-11-2008 04:35 PM

Nice job again.Always impressive work you create!!!

-- Scott NM,

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5651 days

#6 posted 05-11-2008 05:01 PM that is art!

View Dusty56's profile


11868 posts in 5025 days

#7 posted 05-11-2008 05:28 PM


-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 5211 days

#8 posted 05-11-2008 05:31 PM

Mark, this goes beyond superb. I hope you get for them what they are worth.

View DaytonB's profile


154 posts in 5203 days

#9 posted 05-13-2008 07:42 PM

you are truly coming into your own Mark. Watching your work over the past couple years you have really found your place in world. I hope to follow in your footsteps some day soon and find my own style and niche. I truly hope you are making, and will continue to make, an ever and ever better living at this your true calling.

take care and God bless

Dayton Brown
Fellow native Kansan (Fort Scott)

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5737 days

#10 posted 05-29-2008 05:07 PM

Great looking knife and mount.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14193 posts in 5320 days

#11 posted 04-10-2011 09:21 PM

wow … this is a beauty… the handle is indescribable

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

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