Whether you have a supply of antlers left over from hunting
or have collected winter-shed racks during hiking and
camping trips, the horns can be turned into numerous craft
for your own use or for sale.
Even if you don’t already have a collection of antlers
to work with, you can probably locate some at auctions,
garage sales or secondhand stores. Of course, it’s much
more fun (and less expensive) to gather them in the great
outdoors. Regardless of how
you come by your raw material, though, I’m sure you’ll
agree that antler craft objects can be both unique and
lovely — and can also provide constant reminders of the
miraculous cycles of nature.
Antler Craft Ideas
Antler-supported tables: These can be unstable, so it’s
best to build them low.
Elk- and moose-horn chairs: These types of chairs require plenty
of antler material, a few well placed bolts, and more than
the average person’s share of perseverance and ingenuity.
Deer-horn salt and pepper shakers: These can be made with
an electric drill using a rotary rasp attachment, which
slowly hollows out the inside of antler butts. The bony
domes on can be smoothed with the rasp
… then holes were drilled for seasonings to sift through.
Cork stoppers plug the bottoms and white enamel paint adds
Pencil holders: Pencil holders can be carved from a piece of
elk antler (a large caribou or moose horn would also serve
this purpose). To make one, use a hacksaw to sever a
section of the main beam, and hollow out the softer center
with a rotary rasp. Glue a piece of felt on the holder’s
underside to prevent it from marring the desk top.
Hatbands and bolo ties: To make the band, simply saw thin chips from an
antler . . . drill four 1/8-inch holes to form a square in each
one . . . pull two strips of leather bootlacing through the
holes and crisscross them over each chip’s face . . . and
knot the double string of evenly spaced “buttons” into a
circle, leaving “tassels” a couple of inches long. Start the bolo tie by cutting the beam of an elk antler
diagonally to form an oval . . . again, make four 1/8-inch
holes in the chip’s face . . . then drill two more holes,
running from the top to the bottom, for the tie to slide
through. Make the “X” across the chip from a short strip of
leather lacing, trimming any excess flush with the back
side. Now, file the edges smooth, and do the same for the
surfaces of two antler tips — which will dangle from
the tie’s ends — before drilling them with a single
hole each. Thread the slide onto an appropriate length of
lacing, add the tips, knot each end of the leather thong and you’re done.
A gun rack: A gun rack can be constructed of two
deer antler forks, which are secured to the wall with nails
or wood screws. This same arrangement can also make a good
coat and hat tree, provided you blunt the horn tips so that
they won’t pierce holes in your clothing.
A pair of antler-fork bookends: These can really dress up
a tabletop. They’re made by cutting two 4-by-7-by-7-inch
triangles (which will slide under the books) from metal
that’s somewhat thicker than a cookie sheet. After rounding
the points and smoothing the sharp edges of each one, bend
up an inch of the short side at a right angle. Now, cut two
more-or-less matching antler forks, set them on the sheets
against the bent sections, and bore 1/8-inch-diameter holes
through the upright metal and well into each fork’s base.
Next, spray-paint the metal pieces black and let them dry
… then use metal screws to attach the horns to the
A candle-holder centerpiece: This can be made by turning
a deer rack upside down and drilling one or more 3/4-inch (or
candle-sized) holes partway through the antler at strategic
Deer-horn handles: These will add a rustic touch to
doors, cabinets, drawers, windows, or — for that
matter — almost any place around the house where knobs
or pulls are needed.
Horn rings: These can be hot-selling items. To make one,
cut a cross section of the diameter you want, drill a pilot
hole in its center, then hollow it out and smooth all the
edges with a rotary rasp. (Be sure not to use much force,
though, or the ring may split.)
Antler belt buckles: These may be a bit beyond the skill
of some folks, but can be beautiful pieces of artwork if done well.
A custom-crafted letter opener: This can be fashioned
by simply inserting a blade securely into an antler tip. I
once saw a paper cutter whose handle and blade were shaped
from a single piece of elk horn, but that would require so
much patience and skill that I believe I’d choose a simpler
project . . . at least for openers!