Antler art is becoming progressively more popular in the western United States. Pieces range from antler handles on cabinets, antler handles knives, antler candle stick holders, antler lamps and even antler chandileres. Most antler art is made out of whitetail deer antlers or mule deer antlers but can vary with cheep, moose and elf antlers being popular choices as well. Many of these decorative pieces can sell for thousands of dollars with your more traditional lamps usually selling in the 125-300 dollar range. Making your own antler lamp is easy with a few tools and simple tips.
The first step in making the lamp is finding the actual antlers you are going to use. Antlers can be bought on ebay or you may choose to use a pair that you already have if you are a hunter or outdoorsman. The most common method is finding antler shed. Every year deer grow new antlers and around March or April they shed their antler from the previous season. Finding sheds is not that difficult but you do need to know where to look.
The first step in finding sheds is making sure it is ok for you to be on the land you are hunting for them on. Obtain permission from the owner or stick to public hunting ground around the area.
Next is to hunt on land where you have seen deer, preferably bucks.
Stick to fence lines and heavily traveled deer trails as deer are more likely to lose their antlers in transit from one area to the next.
Deer often times lose their antlers in bedding areas as well. These areas consist of tall grass and thick trees most often.
When you have an antler or antlers you must now decide what you want to do with them. Several different lamp styles can be made. One style consist of a single antler, usually a larger antler, and a piece of driftwood with desirable characteristics. Another style of lamp consist of two antlers, usually small in size. To form this style of lamp turn one of the antlers over to form a bridge like structure, then fit the other antler on top, often interweaving the antlers in the most natural occurring position.
Once you decide which type lamp you want to make you have to perfect your desired layout. The antler to antler fit, or antler to wood fit must look natural and leave the end of the antler, or the base in a verticle position that will allow us to drill for our cord and lamp set.
This project will require a few simple tools that will make the task much easier.
1) A simple bench vise.If you do not have one you can buy a clamp on bench vise that will attach to almost any table at Home Depot for about $20.
2) A lamp kit. These can also be purchased at Home Depot or the lighting section of most local hardware stores. The kits generally cost about 15$ and will include everything you need but a lampshade.
3) Lampshade. Rustic style lamp shades are the most desires. Actual cowhide shades can be expensive but are available online at a discount price. For this project we have chosen a resembling leather lampshade purchased at walmart for around $12.
4) 3/8 x 8 inch drill bit. This will be the bit used to tap the hole for the wire through the antler.
5) The project will also require a drill, preferable a cordless variable speed.
6) 5 Minute 2 part epoxy. This can be purchased at Home Depot for about $5.
7) Screws- select screws that have a small head as these will require less filling. Also look for screws ranging from 1.75 inches to 2 inches in length. The screws should have fairly fine threads as well.
Tapping the antler for the wire.
1)The first part in this step is to tap a larger hole for the nipple of the lamp. This hole should be straight up and down to assure the lamp is straight when finished.
2)After you tap the hole for the nipple plan out the rout for the wire. You will need to use a zig zag pattern when drilling the holes for the wire, which includes coming out the side of the antler and starting again in that hole to follow the curvature of the antler.
3)After you have drilled out the side of the antler once fit your antlers together again in the disired shape of the lamp. Mark where the wire will come out of the anler and go into the other antler or wood. Make sure to leave as little of the wire exposed as possible, and make exit holes on the back side of the lamp if at all possible.
4)After marking your holes continue to drill the antler for the light cord.
5)Drill the hole in the second antler of the driftwood in the desired spots, usually coming out the back of the lamp when sitting on a table.
6) When you have finished drilling you hole through both pieces of the lamp its time to run your cord. First cut the tip of your cord of flush with a pair of pliers. start the cord at the bottom of the lamp and run it through both pieces until you have reaches the tip piece where the light bult fixture will eventually go. If needed run a piece of wire through the lamp first, attach wire and pull it through.
7) After you have ran your wire it is time to screw the two pieces of the lamp together. Line your antlers up in the disired way and mark the holes to be drilled. Use the smallest drill bit you have to pre-drill a hole through the first antler and into the second. Then use a drill bit just bigger than the head of the screw to counter sink the screw atleast 1/8 inch. The lamp should not require more than 2-3 screws, the fewer holes to fill the better.
8) After pre-drilling the holes its time to screw the antlers together. This is where a variable speed drill comes in handy. Run the screws in slowly to assure you don’t crack the antlers. Snug the screws up only hand tight.
9) Run the lamp wire through the nipple and install the nipple into the pre-drilled hole. Use 5 minute epoxy to set the nipple into the antler permanently. follow the wiring instructions that came with your lamp kit to hook up the light socket. Once the light socket is hocked up tightern all screws and let lamp sit for 10 minutes to assure epoxy is dry.
10) Once you have allowed proper drying time for the epoxy you may now install you light bulb and your lamp shade.
Antler art is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors in your home. The pieces can be expnsive, but with a little time and a few tools you too can enjoy the beauty for a fraction of the cost.