How to Stain Elk Antlers

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A good coat of stain transforms elk antlers, giving the beige and mocha natural hues the majesty they deserve, while unstained antlers can look neglected, worn out or just fake. Staining your elk antlers takes a couple hours and transforms any antler from ho-hum to awesome. To ensure success, choose the right hue -- too light, and you'll never get the effect you want; too dark, and it'll look like you splashed them with paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Walnut gel stain
  • Rag
  • Newspaper
  • Paint stirrer
  • Small paintbrush
  • Ivory spray paint (optional)
  • Paint thinner (optional)
  • Spray finish sealer
  • Choose a walnut colored gel stain to closely match the natural tones in elk antlers. The exact shade of brown varies by the tree the elks rub against when shedding, notes Oregon Shed Hunters, so you won't necessarily need the same shade for each pair.

  • Rub the antlers with a towel to remove any dirt before staining them. If you stain with dirt clods, the dirt clods will always be visible through the stain.

  • Cover your work space -- such as a craft table -- with newspaper for an easy cleanup. Lay the cleaned antlers on the table. Open the can of stain and stir it with a paint stirrer until it's evenly mixed.

  • Apply the gel stain with a small paintbrush. Work on a couple inches at time, dabbing the stain onto the antlers. Wipe off excess stain with a rag. When you've covered one area and like the brown shades, move up to the next spot.

  • Work in this manner toward the tips. For a natural look, leave the tips of the antlers ivory. If yours are discolored, use ivory-hued spray paint on the tips, taking care not to get the lower antler you just painted, then let the tips dry before continuing.

  • Lighten the hue of the stain as you approach the tips for a slow fade from walnut to ivory. To gently wash bright ivory tips, Oregon Shed Hunters suggests thinning out some of your gel stain with paint thinner, then applying this to the ends.

  • Allow your antlers to dry thoroughly. Your gel stain will list a dry time on the back; use this as an estimate, then touch them with your fingers to double-check.

  • Seal in your stain with a spray finish sealer. Make sure to use a matte, not glossy sealer.

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