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Anyone ever make a bone ferrule?

7738 Views 12 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  KenVA
In the short time since joining the forum I've read a number of the older topics. It's nice to be able to pick up some new info or a different way of doing something but it's even better in the instances when you think you know what you are doing and have it confirmed by someone elses experiance. Thank you. But I haven't read anything about anybody making a stick or cane with a bone ferrule. There are several examples on line and in books of older canes with a ferrule made of bone. Instead of buying a brass ferrule I want to make one of bone and water buffalo horn for my next cane. Any information that could be passed my way would be appreciated.

There is a quote that my dad put up on the workshop wall 20-25 years ago or so by Jeff Cooper that I have left up. For the purpose here I'll change the word "rifle" to "stick".

"On the foregoing counts, a custom stick may be said to be 'practical', but practicality is not the real raison d'etre of the breed. The desire to posses a stick which is personal , an expression of its owner's individuality, and a one-of-a-kind work of art, is pretty basic. Since a stick may be a life-long companion and, conceivably, a family heirloom, it is not unnatural that it is more satisfying if it is something special, and not merely a standard item available to anyone."

I've seen a number of sticks and canes on this forum that this could apply to.
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You're going all old school on us huh?

I haven't done one. They are beautiful but if you plan to use the cane I would be careful. I suspect they might be slippery on polished floors. In my opinion a rubber tip over it while in use would be safe but ugly.

You need a piece of bone thick enough to carve down. Maybe a chunk of cow femur would work.

Use either a mortise and tenon or a dowel to secure it to the shank.

I love the quote. I think it would apply to all custom items.

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Ha ha. What's more "old school" than a stick with the bark stripped off except a stick with bark. But I do eventually want to make a fancy gentleman's walking stick. English walnut, silver collar, ect.. not something for everyday but for weddings, funerals, and to show off. More than anything else just to push the limits and expand the skills of what I can do.

This first cane with bone is basiclly to figure it out. I've attached the bone, water buffalo horn and brass spacer with a threaded rod and epoxy to a beech shank. I will probably cap it with water buffalo horn. The handle is hop hornbeam capped with water buffalo horn. I really like the curly wood in the handle. The finish will be polyurethane but I stilll have more sanding to do.

In the past 24 hours I've found an article online by luthier Sean Berry on how to prepare bone for musical instruments and I assume that it would apply to sticks too. Acording to him after bone is cleaned it needs to be degreased after drying. The method he desribed involves soaking the bone in white gas for 1 to 3 weeks. Aparently bone can manifest grease for years and years causing it to become unglued and eventally crumble.

This cane I used white tail deer bone becuse it is the right size to fit in a rubber tip, but for any bone furrule in the future I would use pronghorn bone because it is seven times more dense than cow bone.


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Neat looking cane. You didn't waste any time getting started.

I like the figure in both pieces. Nice curl.

Nicely done Travis. Perhaps a bone collar? We have a member from the U.K.,Cobalt, that uses a lot of rams horn for collars as well.
I wish I'd thought of a collar before putting this one togather. Oh well, that's an excuse to make another stick.

I wanted to try pollyurethane and knew I'd have to hurry to beat the cold weather coming in. The workspace I have is a concrete block building heated with a wood stove so it takes a while to get warm. I have on two layers of polly and have it sanded, just need to wait a few days for the weather to warm up a bit to do another coat. While waiting for that I should be working on some that I started over the past few months. I'd see something online, get an idea, and want to try it out before getting finished with what I was working on. I really ought to get them finished or decide if it's firewood before starting a new stick project.

I've learned something on every stick, trying something new every so often. Though I've given a few to family and friends I'm just making these for myself, just whatever interest me at the moment and whatever wood that has had time to season.
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I am basically done with my first bone ferrule cane. Put on the final coat of polyurethane yesterday. After 24 hours I lightly sanded and polished with rubbing compound. I agree that the black rubber tip is ugly. Not sure what I'll use on the tip that has good good traction and looks good but I'll figure something out eventually.

While waiting for the weather to get warm enough to put on polyurethane I worked on some sticks that have been in progress for a while.

From left to right 1) Black walnut limb capped with black walnut. Finished with several coats of linseed oil then a wax paste made with equal parts bees wax and olive oil. 2) Hard maple with linseed oil and wax paste. 3) Hard maple with polyurethane. 4) Beech that I peeled the bark and very lightly sanded with a black walnut knob. The finish is polyurethane.

The ferrule on #'s 2 and 3 are stainless steel shot glasses that I got off ebay for less than a dollar each.


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I've been thinking of trying a cane tip using either bone or antler, but adding either a spike or rubber tip to protect the bone/antler from wear. Sort of like a Veritas type tip but substituting the bone/antler for the brass part. Drilling out the end and slipping a bit of internally threaded rod (or a couple of hex nuts) for the tip to screw into.

Might use these things also. Not sure what they were originally intended for (some sort of anchor bolt, I think) but they look like they'd make good spikes for hiking staffs.

Some very nice looking sticks, by the way.


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I was just thinking about bone today and found this topic. What about using bone as a spacer between the handle and shank. It seems to me you could use the long bones of a deer (people who don't hunt here are the exceptions). Select a length that is the appropriate diameter, say between 1 1/2" - 1 1/4. Then either pre-slice them to the desired height and fill with epoxy or leave the whole length for slicing later, then fill with epoxy and slice it once the epoxy's cured. Once you have the slices, drill a hole for you screw down the middle, attach it between the shank and handle then sand it to fit just like any other wood spacer. I've never tried it but it may work.
It would be just like using antler for spacers. These are three I've done with antler spacers. If you don't hunt, you could get bone from a butcher or from the dog toy section at the supermarket. I have several which we had to take away from the dogs because they would fight over them (even when they each had their own, they always wanted the one the other had.)


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Bone works well and is a traditional material for spacers. I think you can buy them pre-made from UK suppliers. I used antler on one cane and liked it. Deer leg bones are on the skinny side. I gathered a few last year and have yet to find a use for them.

Cow bone should give you what you want.
Again, because hunting is so prevalent in this area I can probably get a hold of any deer bones. The large femur might work. The vertebrae might also be worth a look. I give my dogs the cow femurs but they seem a little large in that the shaft of a cane would fit inside the hole in the bone. The large round head of the femur could be cut and shaped to work also.
I also have a line on faux ivory. It's available from Atlas Billiard supply. The sell materials for pool cue manufacturing. It's called Super Tusk Elforyn. Not cheap but it looks nice.
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