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Geoff Wooff said:

“Might I suggest your friend used Deer 'Horn' ? This material is tough and dense with a fine grain. It is somewhat like fingernail in its structure.”

 

Hello,

Geoff is on the right track when he “suggests’ that your friend used deer “horn”, but incorrect on the material, though like I said, he is on to something that will probably end your search. Deer have antlers, not horns. Horn, fingernails, hair, hooves, are all made of a protein called chitin, and are therefore called “chitinous” materials. Horns are hollow, and grow over a bony protuberance from the skull of the animal, and with very few exceptions(such as the pronghorn antelope of the western US), are on the animal for life, and it is rare to get a horn without having to kill the animal.

Antler, on the other hand, is bone, solid bone. It is grown, shed, and re-grown every year. It is very hard, very dense(unless it is from a pair of antlers not yet solidified, early ones, or ones in velvet, for example), readily available from deer farms, hunters, or collectors,(guys who go out into the woods in search of dropped sheds). It comes from all the members of the deer family, Red Deer, Fallow Deer , Whitailed Deer, Mule Deer, Sika Deer, Elk, Moose, Wapiti, Reindeer, Caribou, Sambar Deer, etc… it is not expensive , is readily available, and is perfect for making bone buttons, because it is bone, solid bone. There are a number of antler dealers on Ebay, selling either whole antlers, or sawed up antler parts, which if probably more what you would need. You would probably do well by purchasing sawed off antler tines, though just about any part of the antler would work, depending on how much turning you feel like doing. Check it out, good luck, and take care,

Don Smith

Edited by hielandman
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Thanks for the clarification Heilandman,

 

I must have been thinking of the Antelope and Buffalo horn that is imported into Europe from Africa and which is used by some instrument makers in my region.

 

I must give Deer Antler a try, it is certainly not a rare material here, in fact my neighbours are out hunting this morning!

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I've made up a few replacement buttons from knife handles from odd orphan knives bought at antique fairs. Some of these turned out to be cellulose nitrate type of material, some, casein type plastic and a couple bone, and ivory. Good materials for making odd replacement buttons to match a missing button. A handful of old knives (and forks) will cost pennies and should yield some great material.

Edited by Simon H
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Geoff Wooff said:

“Might I suggest your friend used Deer 'Horn' ? This material is tough and dense with a fine grain. It is somewhat like fingernail in its structure.”

 

Hello,

Geoff is on the right track when he “suggests’ that your friend used deer “horn”, but incorrect on the material, though like I said, he is on to something that will probably end your search. Deer have antlers, not horns. Horn, fingernails, hair, hooves, are all made of a protein called chitin, and are therefore called “chitinous” materials. Horns are hollow, and grow over a bony protuberance from the skull of the animal, and with very few exceptions(such as the pronghorn antelope of the western US), are on the animal for life, and it is rare to get a horn without having to kill the animal.

Antler, on the other hand, is bone, solid bone. It is grown, shed, and re-grown every year. It is very hard, very dense(unless it is from a pair of antlers not yet solidified, early ones, or ones in velvet, for example), readily available from deer farms, hunters, or collectors,(guys who go out into the woods in search of dropped sheds). It comes from all the members of the deer family, Red Deer, Fallow Deer , Whitailed Deer, Mule Deer, Sika Deer, Elk, Moose, Wapiti, Reindeer, Caribou, Sambar Deer, etc… it is not expensive , is readily available, and is perfect for making bone buttons, because it is bone, solid bone. There are a number of antler dealers on Ebay, selling either whole antlers, or sawed up antler parts, which if probably more what you would need. You would probably do well by purchasing sawed off antler tines, though just about any part of the antler would work, depending on how much turning you feel like doing. Check it out, good luck, and take care,

Don Smith

 

Hi Geoff, Don, and all,

 

Sorry if this is too technical, but as a biologist I can contribute some clarification here.

 

Don himself is "on the right track but incorrect on the material" re: horns and related structures made of protein, vs. bone. The protein in horn is one of the keratins. Chitin is not a protein, although it is also a very tough structural / protective polymer that is made by certain living things. See for example these general explanations:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keratin

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitin

 

PG

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Hello Geoff, Paul, and all!

 

Thank you Paul, I stand corrected! I have been mixing up chitin and keratin ever since high school biology 40 years ago! Very similar materials, tough stuff...Question? Could the dark buttons often found on old Lachenal English's possibly be horn? Or, just dyed bone? And Simon, your resourcefulness is commendable! And Geoff, you would do well using antler on your pipes, all the fittings that used to be ivory could/would be well made with antler, with none of the other potential(legal/supply/price) problems with using ivory. Old Nick mentions acetal, I know the Button Box uses Delrin for their buttons, another idea if the bone doesn't pan out. Just some thoughts.

Happy New Year, and Happy Hogmanay to you all, take care,

Don

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An interesting point you are making Don, and in fact I don't think I have ever heard of anyone using Antler as a replacement for the Ivory mounts of the pipes. I have tried many natural materials ( some now illegal) such as, Sperm Whale teeth,Walrus Tusk, Hippopotamus teeth, Donkey and Horse bone, Tagua Nut, Goat horn and various contrasting coloured woods.

But why not Deer Antler I wonder???

 

Thanks for the idea Don.. I will be looking into it.

 

Happy New Year to You too!

 

 

Edit; immediately I start to look at Antler and its properties, on-line, I notice the primary snag... this material is hard and smooth on the outside but has a 'honeycombed' interior... thus not solid and at all uniform in its structure....

 

This would make it unsuitable for my purposes and that would be the reason why I do not recall anyone else using it... Am I wrong ?

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Hi Geoff,

yes, and no....there are times when antler is not so solid, as when it is first grown in, and is still blood engorged, and covered with velvet(the deer scrape this off on trees later on, as it hardens...) generally, it is fine when it is fully developed. Antler is frequently graded for quality when for sale commercially, like any natural product. I have sawed up antlers on many occaisions over the years for various things, and have occasionally seen what you describe, which I usually put down as one having been taken too early, or, he was a late developer. I have a box of moose/elk antler parts I bought for a project, and some I will not be using, would you like me to send you a couple of pieces and see if they are suitable for your uses? I would think, even if some had some spongieness in the middle, it may not be a problem for you as you would be hollowing the pieces out anyway, correct? What diameters do you use, and how long do the pieces have to be to be put in your lathe? Let me know, and I can send you some samples. Happy New Year, take care,

Don

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Hi Geoff,

yes, and no....there are times when antler is not so solid, as when it is first grown in, and is still blood engorged, and covered with velvet(the deer scrape this off on trees later on, as it hardens...) generally, it is fine when it is fully developed. Antler is frequently graded for quality when for sale commercially, like any natural product. I have sawed up antlers on many occaisions over the years for various things, and have occasionally seen what you describe, which I usually put down as one having been taken too early, or, he was a late developer. I have a box of moose/elk antler parts I bought for a project, and some I will not be using, would you like me to send you a couple of pieces and see if they are suitable for your uses? I would think, even if some had some spongieness in the middle, it may not be a problem for you as you would be hollowing the pieces out anyway, correct? What diameters do you use, and how long do the pieces have to be to be put in your lathe? Let me know, and I can send you some samples. Happy New Year, take care,

Don

 

 

 

Hi Don,

I will send you a PM about all this, but for now and for the interest of anybody else ;

 

not all the pieces of the pipes that would traditionally be made of Ivory are hollow. Yes there are many decorative rings (or Mounts) on the pipes but the End Caps of the Drones and Regulators require a solid material of 'even' density. This solid material also needs to be non pourous so air will not be lost in the wrong places.

 

Another problem is that it is best to have enough of a particular material to complete all the parts of one instrument, for continuity sake, therefore a colour or type of tusk or Antler that could be utilised for all the different pieces can sometimes limit the choice.

 

But many thanks for the offer and please look for my PM,

Geoff.

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i would like to thank everyone for their responses to my question regarding bone buttons,all 30 buttons look in poor shape to me(worn on the sides as they pass through the holes and the bottom pegs are now shapeless or broken off altogether).ive found a supplier on the internet(a.r.archer ltd who sell bone blanks to luthiers jewelers etc)so ill have a go at making them all i will let know how i get on.

dennis

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On ebay, robsbits do different sizes of bone which look suitable for buttons. Some are already turned into rods of various thicknesses and some are flat, wider pieces which could be cut up and then finished. Search for guitar bone nuts and you will find the company easily and can go to their shop.

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