A reader of my blog asked where I obtained the antler pulls for this log end table. When I replied that I made them in my shop from antler sheds, he had more questions and asked me to explain the process. It is more straightforward than you might imagine, so here goes...
Antler sheds can be found anywhere from your back yard to auctions on eBay (I've had my dog bring home antlers to chew on many times). If deer are not a frequent sight in your area, the easiest place to buy some is on eBay. Like anything on eBay, there are deals and there are people wanting to steal from you, so make sure the seller has a good rating. You can buy one or two small antler racks for a few dollars or a box full at whatever price you can get. Good luck! Learn more about antler sheds here.
Good epoxy (I prefer 2-part mix-up)
Two bolts (or threaded rods) for each pull
Power drill and common hand tools
When you choose your antler, pick one with a sufficient curve in it to offer a finger hold (as pictured above and below). You can build a simple jig or table saw sled to anchor the antler so that the arc can be cut from the antler, or use a hand saw guided by a rigid straightedge to ensure an even cut. You can use a board clamped to your workbench for such a jig.
Next, I drill oversized holes in the ends that will attach to the drawer to accept the bolts. This drilling is done freestyle as it is almost impossible to position the antler in a drill press vise, but a slow speed and steady hand makes the job quick and easy. By "oversized" I mean stepping up to the next size drill bit that is larger than your bolts. This will give you a hole large enough to accept the bolt and a layer of good epoxy.
I prefer a 2-part mix-up epoxy as it just seems to be stronger than something coming pre-mixed from a tube. Mix your epoxy, coat the walls and bottom of your antler bolt holes with a sufficient layer allowing more than will be necessary. Then coat the threads with epoxy matching the depth of your holes.
Insert your bolts into the holes permitting excess epoxy to ooze from the holes. (TIP: At this point, lay the antler pull on the edge of your workbench to align the bolts horizontally. This will make mounting the pull on the drawer much easier) Use a razor blade or chisel to scrape excess epoxy from the flat seat of the pull. Allow to dry per instructions on the epoxy and you now have authentic antler pulls for your project (see below).
Such "freeform" pulls must be mounted with care as unlike commercially manufactured pulls, your bolts will not be perfectly aligned and no two will be spaced the same. To account for this, I measure to the center of my drawer and place a swatch of masking tape where the antler will be placed. I position the pull so that its center aligns with the center of the drawer... the rest is done by eyeball.
Placing the pull on the drawer, I turn the antler and visually align it to where it looks the best. Depending on the twist and shape of your pull, your pilot holes could be off center by quite a lot, but if it looks right, mark your masking tape and drill your holes.
If you are off by a fraction, usually drilling an oversized hole will permit you to adjust the pull to where it appears to be balanced. A washer on the ends of the bolts will hide any mistakes and permit you to snug down your drawer pull.
The key word here is "find". If you live in a rural area that is visited by deer, you probably already know that walking through the woods is the best way to find antler sheds. If you want to buy some antler sheds, there's no more convenient place than eBay. You, you read that right. I've bought dozens of 'lots' of antlers on eBay and if you monitor the auctions, you can get some terrific bargains. Go ahead... try it!
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