How to Fix Split Ivory

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Ivory comes from the tusks of elephants.
Ivory comes from the tusks of elephants. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Repairs are essential in order to save split ivory. The main reason to take on a repair is to mitigate the cost of replacement. While prices for individual pieces of ivory may vary, prices are usually elevated due to high demand. An entire ivory tusk, according to "60 Minutes," was worth in excess of $4,000 on the global market in December 2008. Ivory pieces may also represent irreplaceable family heirlooms that have cracked or broken. Take a few hours on the weekend to repair your broken ivory and save yourself time and money in the process.

Things You'll Need

  • Work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses
  • Tweezers
  • 0.0046-inch fiberglass cloth
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Fiberglass epoxy
  • Small-tipped, soft-hair paintbrush
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Straight-edge knife
  • Ivory, bone or antler shavings
  • Clear glue

Slide on work gloves, a dust mask and safety glasses to protect your skin, lungs and eyes.

Fit the broken or split piece of ivory together. Save any large chunks that may have broken off to use in the repair. Grip chunks with tweezers for secure handling. Skip to step 8 if your ivory is only cracked.

Measure and cut a piece of 0.0046-inch fiberglass cloth to fit on the back of the ivory -- fully covering the crack.

Fit any chunks of ivory back into place, if possible.

Mix the fiberglass epoxy per the instruction label. Coat the back of the ivory with epoxy using a small-tipped, soft-hair paintbrush.

Press the fiberglass cloth over the epoxy. Hold the cloth in place with medium to firm pressure for 60 seconds. Allow two to three hours for the epoxy to dry.

Sand the ivory with 220-grit sandpaper to reshape the piece. Sand both the front and back sides to smooth out any burrs or irregularities caused by the crack.

Reposition cracked chunks back into place, if possible. Mix clear glue with fine ivory, bone or antler shavings. Fill the crack with the glue and shavings mixture. Press the crack together and hold for two minutes for a thorough bond. Allow two to three hours for the mixture to dry. Sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper.

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