How to Make Jewelry From Deer Bones

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Bone has been used for personal ornamentation for centuries, before recorded history. Bone jewelry has been found in burial sites around the globe. Deer bones make strong, durable bugle beads and pendants. They can be engraved or carved into nearly any design. It takes time and care to prepare deer bones to make jewelry, but it is worth the effort.

Things You'll Need

  • Deer bones
  • Fine-toothed wood saw
  • Large covered stock pot
  • Large plastic container
  • 1/2 gal 3% Solution of hydrogen peroxide
  • Coarse, medium and fine sandpaper
  • Jewelry files or fine wood files
  • Dremel tool or power drill with 1/16-inch diameter drill bit
  • Walnut wood stain
  • Fine-tip artists' paintbrush
  • Woodworking wax
  • Extra long craft pipe cleaners
  • Jewelry findings

Use a fine-toothed saw to cut the ends off all the deer bones to expose the marrow. Clean out as much marrow as possible with pipe cleaners. Place bones in your pot, cover with water, and boil for 45 minutes or until all marrow have come out of the bones. Leave toe bones and small foot bones intact when boiled, with the exception of a 1/16-inch diameter hole drilled in the top and bottom to allow marrow to escape. Allow bones to cool.

Clean bones again using pipe cleaners. Place bones in a plastic tub and cover with hydrogen peroxide. Check bones every hour until they are slightly whiter than you desire. Rinse well with plain water to remove all traces of hydrogen peroxide. Allow your deer bones to dry.

Don an NIOSH-approved respirator. Use your fine-toothed saw to cut some of the leg bones into 1/8-inch to 3/16-inch slabs for small, linkable beads. For long, tubular beads, cut sections to length desired. Sand with coarse, medium and fine sandpaper, and then carve designs onto each bone with your Dremel tool. Use a fine-line paintbrush to paint the outline of your design with walnut stain.

Section rib bones to make flat pendants, carved shapes, or to make engravings or scrimshaw. This also works well with shoulder blades. Use drill bit to add holes to string beads or attach jump rings to pendants.

Scribe a shape onto a flat piece of sanded deer bone. Popular shapes include arrowheads, hearts and heater shields. Don an NIOSH-approved respirator. Cut or grind away the black areas in the design templates in the image that accompanies this step. Drill bead holes where indicated.

Connect beads on string or wire, using eye hooks, jump rings, bails, swivels, and clasps to make necklaces, bracelets, tie tacks, earrings, watch fobs, pendants and rings. Carve pendant pieces into design connectors using a Dremel tool.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear an NIOSH-approved respirator at all times while sawing or sanding bones. Inhaling bone dust can cause pneumonia, severe bronchospasm and anaphylaxis, leading to death.

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