Antler--what a great renewable resource. From January to late March, male deer will lose their antlers and begin growing new ones. I love finding these treasures when I hike in the woods.
If you don't have time to hunt sheds in the woods, try finding these on Ebay or search with Google. Perhaps you may know an outdoorsman that has antlers lying around unused.
Safety first. Here is the safety equipment I recommend for this project. Dust mask, safety glasses and nitrile gloves. Also, do this project in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside.
I have cut the base out of an antler shed someone gave me. I love the natural coloration and character of this antler. The thick part will be the handle and the tine will become the blade.
I will be using the Dremel rotary tool to sand the antler. You could easily use a belt sander or a regular hand drill. Just make sure you understand how to operate the equipment properly.
With the Dremel, I will be using a drum sander attachment. This one is probably 100 to 120 grit.
I have started to sand down the tine to make the letter opener blade. Go slow and use even strokes. Don't keep the drum sander in one place for long or you might take off too much material.
Just a note here on sanding. Antler will create a fine dust, so wear old clothes and a dust mask. It will also produce an odor, but not that bad.
Here is the antler letter opener blade after I've finished with the rough sanding. The thickness of the blade can vary anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch. Notice how I've made it taper.
I will all sand other areas that went through the bandsaw. Note the round area to the left. This makes the letter opener more aesthetically pleasing.
This is the bottom part of the antler that falls from the deer's head. Because it was rough and jagged, I like to sand this part. Again, this just looks more pleasing to the eye.
So I've put the Dremel away and pulled out the 220 grit and 400 grit sand paper. From this point forward, I will sand the antler by hand. Start with the 220 and move toward the 400 grit.
I also go on to use 1500 grit sandpaper. The finer you go, the more glossy the antler will become. You could also use some type of buffing attachment with the Dremel if you have it.
And here is the final product. A great unique craft and fabulous conversation piece. Now you can open your letters in style.
Here are some more antler letter openers I've made over the years. These make great gifts.
Here you see another antler letter opener, but I can also use antler to make writing pens.