Deer antlers tend to bleach as they age, and restoring the antlers to their original colour becomes necessary. This is not difficult, and there are a variety of methods used. The method you choose depends on how bleached the antlers are. In some cases a simple coffee bath will do the trick; in other instances a more detailed restoration using a chemical like potassium permanganate may be needed.
Mix one part liquid dish-washing soap and 20 parts water in a plastic spray bottle.Spray the antlers and scrub with a stiff-bristled brush.
Add clear water to another spray bottle and rinse the soapy mixture away. Use a cloth to wipe away the soap and dirt.
Fix any scratches, cuts or cracks with wood putty. Use your fingers to work the wood putty into the antlers. Allow the antlers to dry for a few hours and sand off any excess wood putty with sandpaper.
Pour cool coffee into a plastic container large enough to soak the antlers in. Place the antlers in the coffee and allow them to soak for a few hours. Coffee works on antlers that have not been bleached completely and just need a slight colouring. Remove the antlers and allow to dry.
Fill a plastic spray bottle with water and mix in a teaspoon of liquid dish-washing soap. Spray the antlers and use a sponge, cloth or stiff-bristled brush to remove dust and dirt.
Add clear water to the bottle and spray the antlers. Use a cloth to wipe off the soapy residue. Allow the antlers to dry.
Dip a rag in used motor oil and wipe the antlers. Allow the oil to soak in for 20 minutes and apply another coating of motor oil. Wipe off any excess oil from the antlers.
Mix a squirt of liquid dish-washing soap and a quart of water in a plastic spray bottle. Close the bottle and swish it around to mix well. Spray the deer antlers with the solution. Allow the solution to set for five to 10 minutes. Scrub the antlers with a stiff-bristled brush.
Fill a container with clear water and dip a cloth in the water. Wipe the antlers free of soap residue. Wring the cloth out and continue to wipe the soap away from the antlers and allow to dry.
Fix cracks in the antlers with wood putty. Work the wood putty with your fingers and place it over the crack. Smooth it out so that the putty is barely noticeable on the antlers and allow it to dry overnight. Hand sand excess wood putty with a 200-grit piece of sand paper.
Put on latex gloves and mix ½ teaspoon of potassium permanganate and ½ cup of warm water to make a colouring solution. Potassium permanganate can be purchased in a local hardware shop or online at a website like Science Company or Nextag.
Paint the antlers with the colouring solution carefully. Allow the antlers to dry for 10 minutes and apply another coat of the colouring solution if you want a darker look.
Handle potassium permanganate with care. It is a skin irritant and tends to colour everything it touches brown.