Staining shed horns

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bigsky's picture
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Staining shed horns

I have some shed horns and dead heads and I would like to try to get the horns back to their original colors. I am not trying to restore old chalky horns, just horns that are still smooth but faded from the sun. Does anyone have any experience with this? Any tips on what colors to use and tips on how to apply it? I want them to look like your average whitetail horn.

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Good ol Minwax Walnut.

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wow that looks great


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Thats awesome Zman

I dont go around guessing cup sizes either I just know a nice rack when I see one.

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That looks pretty good, how did you apply it? Did you have to apply more to the bases and less on the tips or did you apply it evenly and wipe it off the tips?

 

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I have had luck using several colors combined over a couple applications. The black walnut gives it a nice dark base but you really have to rub the color out so it isn't to dark. Then a nice walnut or golden oak adds a nice tone on top of the base. One thing is if you don't like the desired effect, rub the horns with a soft cloth and if they arent chalky you can get most of the undesired color off if it hasn't dried. Experiment on the smaller horns you don't care about as much. I have done several color combinations because it seems like alot of the deer you shoot seldom have the same color antler.

Good luck!


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bigsky Said:
That looks pretty good, how did you apply it? Did you have to apply more to the bases and less on the tips or did you apply it evenly and wipe it off the tips?

From the ones i've done it seems the tips don't take the color as well, so they must naturally resist the stain.


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Start out with a light coat , rub it in well and let dry . Can always add more later . Some say to let dry when done and rub on linseed or WD 40 but didn't want to take a chance .

I don't drink alcohol, I drink distilled spirits; so I am not an alcoholic... I am spiritual
Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the 
Government take care of him; better take a closer look at the American Indian!" .

 

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I second zman's recommendation.  A number of years ago I left a pair of antlers with the tag on them for too long.  Anyway, the area with the tag really changed colors (or more likely the rest of the antlers did).  So I grabbed a can of walnut stain I had laying around and dipped a rag into it and applied stain to the antler.  Worked great IMHO. 

Been long enough ago at this point that I don't recall if I used oil or water based stain.  I gave that set of antlers to the in-laws on a placque and they still look great. 

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” ~ Mark Twain

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Joined: Monday, December 14, 2009 - 10:40am

I would recommend not staining them. I've tried and it doesn't look good. If you have quite a few I would actually use paint from VanDykes if you don't mind purchasing a spray gun.

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sticknbig1s Said:
I would recommend not staining them. I've tried and it doesn't look good. If you have quite a few I would actually use paint from VanDykes if you don't mind purchasing a spray gun.

Interesting.   I don't think that if I didn't know which set of mine was stained that I could pick them out of a lineup.

What part about the stain job didn't turn out for you.

And out of curiousity, what "paint" is this?  A paint to me is opaque and would put a one-color coat on them.  I take it this is not the case?

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” ~ Mark Twain

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Allen Said:
Interesting.   I don't think that if I didn't know which set of mine was stained that I could pick them out of a lineup.

Very good statement!  Staining really works to bring the color back.


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A lot of these antlers were sheds that were "washed" in color. Staining brought them right back to a believable color. Some of these horns are from other deer that I have shot over the years and were not bleached out since they were stored inside. It would be really tough to tell the difference between them after the staining.


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I have seen both examples. Ones that turn out great and those that are awful. Stay away from the High Gloss stains and your results will be better.

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Van Dykes sells some kind of antler stai, but when I tried it the results were far too yellow.
I've heard shoepolish, but too splotchy and difficult to get even.
I'd go with diluted stain   like pigsticker recommended, the non glossy stuff. 
Pigsticker, did you make that chandellier?  Beautiful!!!  

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I use wood stain. With all the brands on the market, there is an unlimited number of choices of shades and tones; and any stain can be diluted or rubbed on thinner.

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bobkat Said:
Van Dykes sells some kind of antler stai, but when I tried it the results were far too yellow.
I've heard shoepolish, but too splotchy and difficult to get even.
I'd go with diluted stain   like pigsticker recommended, the non glossy stuff. 
Pigsticker, did you make that chandellier?  Beautiful!!!  

Thank you bobkat, I did make it. It was quite the learning curve. Everywhere I looked for information on how to build one I found nothing. I tackled it and have somewhere around 40 hours into it. I'd say that now i have built one I could achieve it in less time. The trick was to hid everything as best as you could. I cant complain though because it was fun and turned out the way i envisioned it. It consists of 33 individual antlers.


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Very nice chandelier pigsticker, impressive!

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Really impressive!  You should post a few closer up pictures showing how you hid the wiring and how you fastened it all together.

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bobkat Said:
Really impressive!  You should post a few closer up pictures showing how you hid the wiring and how you fastened it all together.

i will see if I can work on something bobkat. Might be tough since shes hanging about 16' up in the air but I guess i'll find out how good my zoom on my camera works.


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Don't break your neck trying to get pictures, pigsticker!    I hate it when that happens!  

Pat'sPlace
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as a former taxidermist, we used a light wood stain on a cloth if the client wanted them "improved"...a more porous antler like many drop tines should use a diluted stain as Bobkat suggests. polish the tips with a clean cloth if you like...we used to seal the horns with a matte finish acrylic spray afterwards. I have seen many racks that were stained way too dark and with glossy varnish...unnatural looking to my eye. Some people wanted the horns cleaned spotless and shined up, while some wanted the shreds of velvet crud in all the knobs around the bases, etc...personal preference.

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Old English works