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  • turnng bone

    I need to make replacement ivory decorative finials for an old European spinning wheel. These things are small, maybe 1.5 cm high, looking vaguely like chess pawns in form. I have found a couple of YouTube videos about turning bone, but they are vague as to details. It looks as though the main process is a scraping cut, although one turner was using mainly a small skew. (Not clear as to whether he was taking a paring or scraping cut.) Have any of you tried turning bone, or possibly any of the acrylics which imitate bone or ivory. Or tagua nut?
    Supplementary question: How do bone, tagua, or acrylic hold up in the long term? Do they age to a visibly different appearance to the original ivory, (even if they are virtually identical visually originally)
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  • #2

    Re: turnng bone

    I would suggest using alternative ivory which is a cast polyester not acrylic ( LV stock some in aged and plain) Use a scraper not a gouge with the cutting edge below centre and handle high . Make light cuts. Polish with wet and dry and finish with auto body compound. Alt. Ivory ages with cold tea .It has a grain not unlike real ivory . It is more likely to give good results than bone and ivory is difficult to source and even more difficult to cross borders with. Also needs a lot of soaking and boiling.. Attached are pix of a sugar caster in alt ivory threaded together as one would if using real tusks. Possibly doesn't age as real ivory but I have restored several antiques and the difference is not discernible especially if given a very light soaking in tea Click image for larger version  Name:	16Feb2015_4386mod5.jpg Views:	1 Size:	299.3 KB ID:	1159025Click image for larger version  Name:	16Feb2015_4387mod5.jpg Views:	1 Size:	241.5 KB ID:	1159026
    Last edited by jay; 01-11-2018, 07:35 PM.
    nnieman, Art in Prince George and 2 others like this.

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    • #3

      Re: turnng bone

      I have turned bone, though just small pieces, I do know some turn the ends of Deer antler, carter down you run into soft areas.

      The bone turned fine with a small skew, as with the finial I would be afraid the thin end would break using a scraper.

      The cabochon like polished pieces I turned probably with a scraper, though I don’t remember, it’s been too long, and things like what tool I used just isn’t important, as one finds very quickly what works.

      The bone sands nicely with fine sandpaper and polishes up nice, bone does have color in it, at least the pieces I used did.

      Click image for larger version

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      Click image for larger version

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      This is not a good picture of the bone, it is hard to get good pictures from some colors
      Click image for larger version

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      Have fun and take care
      Leo Van Der Loo

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      • #4

        Re: turnng bone

        I'm most grateful. Will try. (but haven't a prayer of producing anything as exquisite as Jay's sugar caster. And Leo van der Loo's fine finial is beautifully simple and quietly elegant. Thank you so much.

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        • #5

          Re: turnng bone

          I have turned tagua nuts it is very easy and they polish very nicely. but each nut has a void in the center that you have to avoid. if that doesn't matter for your turning and you can figure out how to chuck it, they are a good option too. You can also dye them with tea if you want.

          These are from a nut that was cut in half before turning.

          Click image for larger version  Name:	tagua.JPG Views:	1 Size:	90.6 KB ID:	1159165
          Last edited by Chimera; 01-13-2018, 09:38 AM.
          When someone tells you it can't be done, it's a reflection of their limitations, not yours.

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          • #6

            Re: turnng bone

            I made pens and such from antler; guitar nuts and bridges from cow bone; and small decorative elements from Tagua nuts as well as dozens of acrylic and Silastone pens, razors, shaving stands and shaving knots over the years. I use the same tools as I use for the really dense woods like ebony and lignum vitae with good results. Some disagree with me on this but the trick to these materials is to use slower speeds and really sharp tools; I hone the tool edges with 4000 diamond for acrylics and other plastics to get the material to cut but not melt at the cutting edge. We have had this discussion here quite a number of times so you could look through the old threads on the subject for some tips and tricks from various Forumites.

            On the natural materials front, deer antler tips turn okay but moose antler is better. I second Jay's suggestion to use alternate ivory (an odd way to say fake isn't it?) for the wee finials since the learning curve is not so steep.

            My 2 cents

            Ken

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