You can turn deer horns, or antlers, into a wide variety of craft items to give that rustic look to your home or cabin. Collect the antlers from hunters, collect shed antlers while hiking or purchase antlers from retailers. Use the antlers whole to make items such as light fixtures, table legs and chairs. Cut the antlers and take advantage of their natural shape to make receptacles, such as pencil holders. Slice the antlers to make rings, scarf slides or buttons.
Preparation and Finishing
Antlers must be clean before working them into crafts. Wash the antlers with soap and water, scrubbing with a wire brush if necessary, and let them dry. Once your craft project is complete, finish the antlers using a variety of methods. You can spray-paint them, leave them as is or spray on polyurethane.
Crafts Using Intact Deer Antlers
The easiest way to use intact deer antlers in crafts is to attach them to existing structures, such as a chandelier. That way you don't have to worry about structural integrity, especially when crafting furniture, such as chairs, that are weight-bearing. Start by arranging the antlers in an interlocking fashion. Use hot glue to attach the antlers together where they meet and where they touch the existing structure. For projects where the antlers are a structural element, use the same process but reinforce the antlers at their connecting points with screws or bolts. You can also use deer antlers to make items such as candle holders. Simply turn the antler upside down and drill one or more candle-sized holes partway through.
Crafts Using Antler Parts
Deer antlers cut to various sizes make good craft materials. You can easily hollow out the soft centre with an electric drill and a rotary rasp attachment to make receptacles. Use a hacksaw or a band saw to cut antlers to the length you want. To make receptacles, such as pencil holders or bud vases, glue a base to the piece, such as a rustic wood round cut from a branch. Then, glue felt to the bottom to protect surfaces. Antler bases also make good receptacles, such as candle holders, because they already have a bottom. Pieces of antler also provide a rustic quality when wired onto holiday wreathes or when used as drawer pulls. Or drill holes in a section of antler to make a cribbage board.
Crafts Using Sliced Deer Antlers
Slice cross-sections from antlers to create circles of bone or slice diagonally to create ovals. Circles make great rings. Diagonal slices make good slides for scarves or neckerchiefs. Drill a hole on each side of the diagonal piece and file all of the edges smooth. Thread leather lacing or some nice cord through the holes, tie them tightly at the back and trim the ends. To use them, put a scarf or neckerchief around your neck and thread both ends of the scarf through the opening from the back, over the centre cord and out the back again. Slide it into place. The "rose" or bottom end of antlers makes beautiful buttons. Simply slice it off, sand it smooth and drill buttonholes.