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Using Antler to Make Handmade Pens

When making a handmade pen, there are a lot of options available when selecting materials.  Wood, stone, acrylics and other materials abound.  But, one of the more unusual materials is antler.  Many animals have antlers and most types can be used to make the body of a pen.

Antler ready to be made into handmade bullet pens

So, What is Antler?

Antler is the appendage that resides on the head of an animal.  It is usually made of a substance that is similar to bone and is usually found on the male species of adults.  It is only found on the females of  few species.  It starts as cartilage and then mineralizes over time to become bone.  The antlers then typically shed and fall off off the animal and the process starts over again.  In this way, antler is a renewable resource that can be naturally harvested without harming the animal. Which is good for the environment - and pen making!

Why Use Antler?

Antler drilled and ready to be turned into bullet pens

Antler makes a great material from which to make a pen.  Mature antler is very dense and can hold fine detail easily.  Colors run from a deep, rich brown to a creamy white and typically have color and inclusions which make the finished pen resemble marble.  These inclusions can be very small and appear almost as spots, but can range to long streaks of color.

Turning Antler

Antler is a stable material, which also makes it desirable as a material for making pens.  It turns well, but has special considerations when handling.  Antler is a biological material and as such, breathing precautions must be taken to ensure that you do not breath in the antler material.  It may contain bacteria and other contaminates that can cause serious health problems.  So, care must be taken - wear protective personal equipment when working with antler.

Antler is also not square which makes drilling it quite difficult.  Special jigs and handling devices are required to help align the holes in the antler, otherwise the pen will not be centered through the antler.  This can lead to the colors being off-center, which can be a good or bad thing.  You never know until it is finished!

Design Consideration

Three deer antler bullet pens
Three deer antler pens

Antler is often found on specialty pens, such as bullet pens.  But, it can be used on any pen.  I use it on any type of pen as it has a great color and look that really catches your eye.  

I use it on my bullet pens as hunters like these as gifts.  But, it makes a great material as a rollerball or fountain pen.  There are no limits to using antler.  It looks great in gold and especially good with the satin chrome finishes.