Anyone have experience making bone nut blanks?

I seem to remember reading somewhere that the un-smoked doggie bones from a pet shop are the best source.... Do they require further degreasing or other processing?

Or is this just a stupid idea to begin with?

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Randy Bretz is the man to ask... he seems to be able to do anything with bone so I guess he'll know. Build Im on now, Im just using the whole bone as is :o)
It's the smell of cutting the bone that I think would make me not do it. Just cutting width of the bone nut I bought was very unsatisfying.. ha ha.

How much is one of those bones from the pet store anyway?
They're not that expensive. Usually in the $5 range, I think.

Cheap is good. I'm willing to put up with stink and effort in pursuit of cheapness.

Brian Parks said:
It's the smell of cutting the bone that I think would make me not do it. Just cutting width of the bone nut I bought was very unsatisfying.. ha ha.

How much is one of those bones from the pet store anyway?
Randy-- Wow, that's some beautiful work. I'd been thinking of this in purely utilitarian terms, but you've opened my eyes...

I've heard some horror stories (mostly on "conventional" guitar pages) about incompletely prepared bone seeping oils and ruining finishes, etc...

Have you had experience with this? Some of the prep methods I've read about have included extended boiling, soaking in ammonia for weeks, really everything but human sacrifice. That all seemes like more work than I was interested in....

I don't have a lab, but I've got a boxer mutt who'd be happy to work a bone over for me, if that's all it takes.....

Thanks for the info and the pics!
I've just finally used up the first doggie bone I bought; sufficient material for 3 guitars, a mandola, and a banjo; and I think just enough for the nut on my uke.

These are only about 5 bucks; just make sure you get one that has a lot of flat surface on it.
Sanding and dremeling definitely stinks....I don't know if the dust is potentially harmful but I do wear a paper mask.

I use a hacksaw to cut out the rough shape, then the dremel with a sanding drum for final shaping.
Randy S. Bretz said:
I don`t get bones from the pet store because they have an oil in them to protect them from infection to a dog, that same oil will harm the finish on an instrument. The bones you get from a butcher are not treated, I get "marrow bones" which are the best for my uses. I can get a bag of them 5-7 large bones for next to nothing. I`ve learned this from making the mistake of buying a bone from the pet shop.

They're not that expensive. Usually in the $5 range, I think.

Cheap is good. I'm willing to put up with stink and effort in pursuit of cheapness.

Brian Parks said:
It's the smell of cutting the bone that I think would make me not do it. Just cutting width of the bone nut I bought was very unsatisfying.. ha ha.

How much is one of those bones from the pet store anyway?
Good to know. Do you have to do anything to the bone aside from labradorizing it to get it ready for shaping?

Randy S. Bretz said:
I don`t get bones from the pet store because they have an oil in them to protect them from infection to a dog, that same oil will harm the finish on an instrument. The bones you get from a butcher are not treated, I get "marrow bones" which are the best for my uses. I can get a bag of them 5-7 large bones for next to nothing. I`ve learned this from making the mistake of buying a bone from the pet shop.

BT Cohosh said:
They're not that expensive. Usually in the $5 range, I think.

Cheap is good. I'm willing to put up with stink and effort in pursuit of cheapness.

Brian Parks said:
It's the smell of cutting the bone that I think would make me not do it. Just cutting width of the bone nut I bought was very unsatisfying.. ha ha.

How much is one of those bones from the pet store anyway?
I have made several nuts and saddles from the beef bones in the shop after Sadie (security dog) is done with them--cut them on bandsaw and use sander to shape---smelly but works--if you are old enough smell will put you in dentist chair when drills used to seize-----mike
Out of interest has anybody ever tried using Antler ? I figure it is similar to bone and available on old walking sticks, riding whips that kind of thing and if you go to craft shows there are stalls that sell the shedded antlers pretty cheap. Probably no smell invoved either.
I'm pretty sure I've seen antler pieces on the site (couldn't tell you where, though).

I live in a *really* rural area and I'm guessing I could hit up some of my hunter-friends for scrap....

By way of an update: I took the plunge and bought a couple of butcher counter bones. Boiled them for a while after a close trimming, then some more scraping, then a two week soak in a concentrated bleach solution. I ended up with a big mat of hardened fat on the surface, which I take to be a good sign.

I'm in the midst of shaping pieces right now, and I have to say I find working with bone to be a true joy. It takes a sweet finish, and the natural variation in color is beautiful.
I ruined a good bi-metal bandsaw blade cutting bone for nuts.

My recollection is that I got a beef shinbone at the grocery store, trimmed the bone, and then boiled it, then put the boiled bone in the oven at 350F for an hour or so to get any remaining fat or meat off of it. As I have said elsewhere, I am not concerned about a finely finished instrument, but so far I have not seen any deleterious effects of using bone prepared in this way.

The smell is not pleasant, and it would probably be a good idea to wear a dust mask--I would doubt if bone dust is good to get into your lungs.

Best regards, Willie
I settled for a system kinda like yours. I boiled the bone, but then soaked it in a strong bleach solution for about a week. The leftover fat floated to the surface and the bones were nice and white.

I ended up cutting them with a hand-held sabre saw with a metal-cutting blade. It worked fine, though I'm guessing my middleschool shop teacher would have keeled over if he had seen the way I was using those tools.

One String Willie said:
I ruined a good bi-metal bandsaw blade cutting bone for nuts.

My recollection is that I got a beef shinbone at the grocery store, trimmed the bone, and then boiled it, then put the boiled bone in the oven at 350F for an hour or so to get any remaining fat or meat off of it. As I have said elsewhere, I am not concerned about a finely finished instrument, but so far I have not seen any deleterious effects of using bone prepared in this way.

The smell is not pleasant, and it would probably be a good idea to wear a dust mask--I would doubt if bone dust is good to get into your lungs.

Best regards, Willie

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