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Bone on a lathe?

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Forum topic by kiwilynne posted 01-24-2019 04:30 AM 1340 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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kiwilynne

203 posts in 233 days


01-24-2019 04:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe carving shaping bone bone carving

I generally turn wood, but I’ve been prepping some big cow bones – shins I think – for power carving. I then thought: can bone be turned on a lathe? As anyone ever tried this with either bone or antler?

-- Lynne, New Zealand - Crikey, Aussie is another country, Bro.


22 replies so far

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edapp

293 posts in 1885 days


#1 posted 01-24-2019 01:22 PM

I would think a bone like that would splinter or shatter if it were turned. An antler on the other hand might work. That shin bone is likely hollow, dry, and brittle.

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therealSteveN

3390 posts in 1029 days


#2 posted 01-24-2019 01:47 PM

They seem really hard from the outside, that calcium layer is there to protect the interior of the bone, which except for a smallish area near joints that appears to be more solid, a bone will dry to look like the pics below. What is missing is the blood, and nutrient channels that allow for a healthy bone/support structure, what we know to be the “marrow.”

If you didn’t go deep you may be able to do something, but know the insides are hollow, and maybe kind of yucky if it isn’t totally dried.

Yes, Antler is a lot denser, and some cultures do a lot with them. Usually carving.

This is not to say that some don't try their hand at “bone art.” I’m not sure it’s all the rage though.

-- Think safe, be safe

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JADobson

1445 posts in 2566 days


#3 posted 01-24-2019 02:49 PM

I’m not sure about bone but antler has a really bad smell. I started making a pen from some white tail antler and only drill halfway through the blank before I quit.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

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Planeman40

1430 posts in 3216 days


#4 posted 01-24-2019 04:16 PM

It should work. Way back in the 1970s I made a full size replica of an antique Scottish golf club that was attached to the trophy plaque given to the winner of the Delta Airlines sponsored Heritage Golf tournament. Each year I made another one. One of the parts of the club was a bone inset in the bottom of the club head held in by wooden pegs inserted at an angle. I made these from large dog bones bought at a pet store. The bones had been processed so they were very clean and free of all meat and tissue. The bone worked easily with woodworking power tools but had a strong odor. The bone made a nice substitute for today’s plastic or metal. Those craftsmen of the day knew what they were doing and knew their available materials.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

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kiwilynne

203 posts in 233 days


#5 posted 01-24-2019 06:11 PM

Thanks all. Planeman40 – yeah these bones have been cleaned well good. I think even if I just get them fairly round it will already help a lot. And even if they crack, I can always use them for something else.

-- Lynne, New Zealand - Crikey, Aussie is another country, Bro.

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kiwilynne

203 posts in 233 days


#6 posted 01-24-2019 06:13 PM

therealSteveN – bone carving is a very important skill and craft in New Zealand :)

-- Lynne, New Zealand - Crikey, Aussie is another country, Bro.

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jdh122

1089 posts in 3273 days


#7 posted 01-24-2019 06:16 PM

I have no personal experience with turning bone or antler, but in my day job I’m a historian of 18th-century Europe, and I know of a mountain region where during the winter months the men all kept busy turning on foot-powered lathes, including a lot of antler of all kinds.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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Andybb

1954 posts in 1058 days


#8 posted 01-24-2019 06:26 PM


I m not sure about bone but antler has a really bad smell. I started making a pen from some white tail antler and only drill halfway through the blank before I quit.

- JADobson

Antler is the same as hair and finger nails comprised largely of keratin hence the same smell of burning hair. Bones are primarily calcium and don’t burn like the former.

It might be interesting to try casting the bone to fill the center marrow section then drilling and turning it.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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MrRon

5631 posts in 3698 days


#9 posted 01-25-2019 06:41 PM

I wouldn’t hesitate turning bone on a metal lathe, but on a wood lathe, I don’t know.

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Andybb

1954 posts in 1058 days


#10 posted 01-25-2019 06:58 PM


I wouldn t hesitate turning bone on a metal lathe, but on a wood lathe, I don t know.

- MrRon

Hmmm…...Well HSS and carbide tools are harder than bone. I’d wear a face shield and go for it. It’s going to be more brittle than an antler but if you figure out how to chuck it up it’s worth a shot IMHO.

Off the top of my head…. my idea would be to put a shin bone in a PVC tube and cast it in resin. Pull it out, chuck it up and turn it until you’re down to the bone. You’d be mostly turning resin until you got to the point where you’re starting to shave the bone down.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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Planeman40

1430 posts in 3216 days


#11 posted 01-25-2019 07:12 PM

Having worked with bone, I think it would work fine. Bone isn’t all that hard.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

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pottz

5791 posts in 1439 days


#12 posted 01-25-2019 07:23 PM

ive worked with antler many times and as some have said,phewwweee.but it makes beautiful pens,dont know about bone,but hey go for it.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

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HokieKen

10437 posts in 1593 days


#13 posted 01-25-2019 08:06 PM

Just stay away from my legs! ;-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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shipwright

8346 posts in 3253 days


#14 posted 01-26-2019 04:21 AM

As for the smell, I use bone in marquetry and when working it the shop smells like a dentist’s office.
What I can say about working with it is that it has quite uniform texture and strength and cuts and sands well.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

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Jim Jakosh

23009 posts in 3560 days


#15 posted 06-12-2019 11:42 AM

Hi Lynne. I have turned elk antler on the lathe and it turns very nicely! I made cribbage pegs out of it.

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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