Wet or dry?

Does anyone know if it’s best to work with “green” bones or dried out bones?

making things like needles are easiest with a crack and a peel of a fresh femur, carving and other handiwork comes best when the material is ‘bone-dry’ :wink: it all depends on the craft, the animal, the particular bone you’re working with… yada yada yada…

Let us know how you’re experiements turn out!


Right now I’m working on a deer leg blade. When I started it was still yellowish, heavy and greasy from the marrow. I’ve begun to grind it down to a blade-like shape and I’ve noticed that I can’t really get it very sharp because it just splinters off as I sand it on the curb of the street. Perhaps I need to move to a finer sanding material. Perhaps I am sanding in the wrong direction. Perhaps bones are just like that. Perhaps if I let it dry out a little more before it may splinter less.

Sounds like you’ve got all the reasoned tools to work with the bone, now you just need to experiment. If it is splintering and you have reduced your grit, then you might be onto something concerning drying it out.

The grain should be straight-forward, I’ve made quite a few bone beads in my day.

Let me know how it’s going, it’s great to learn from another’s trial and error…


just about everyone of the trollsplinters has an ulna knife, all of them were made fresh out of the leg. I think the street curb may be problematic. we use sand paper and sharpening stones and can get them very sharp. my friend also has tried shaping it, then fire hardening it, and then sharpening it. reportedly it worked well.

I’m starting to work with bone too. One of my sources said it was easiest to shape bone that had been soaked in water for four days. He also tried salt water and urine. Neither worked as well.

  • Benjamin Shender