How to Stain Bone Handles


Staining a bone handle is a simple process that will add an antique aesthetic and value to the piece in question. Removing the handle from its attachments will often take more time and care than the staining process itself. This method should not be used with any item that may be an antique, as altering an antique can lower its value.

Things You'll Need

  • Bone-handled object
  • Screwdrivers or ratchet set
  • 120 and 220-grit sandpaper
  • Saucepan or stockpot
  • 12 to 15 teabags
  • Paper towels
  • Carnauba wax
  • Clean, soft cloth
  • Use a screwdriver or ratchet and socket to remove the bone handle from the object. Set screws, bolts and any other hardware aside.

  • Sand all surfaces of the bone handle with 120-grit sandpaper, followed by 220-grit, until all surfaces are fresh and smooth. Use caution if the bone is artfully carved, to avoid removing any detail of the carving. Wipe away sanding dust.

  • Boil 12 to 15 teabags in enough water to fully immerse your bone handle. A saucepan is fine for small items such as drawer pulls. You may need a stockpot for larger items. Allow water to cool to bath water temperature, which is 99 to 110 degrees. Submerge bone in tea. Knife maker Gypsy Wilburn recommends, "Check every half-hour until bone is several shades darker than desired final color. Your bone will lighten as it dries."

  • Remove bone from tea bath and pat dry with clean paper towels. Allow bone to dry overnight or longer.

  • Coat bone with a minimum of three coats of warm carnauba wax. Rub with a clean, soft cloth to polish it in between each coat. Reassemble your object, replacing all hardware and fasteners.

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