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Antler Thumb Ring for Archery

Have you been wanting to try carving an archery thumb out of antler?

Well I know of a place that sells antlers. Bulk Barn sells antlers as chew toys for dogs, but in the hands of someone with carving tools - like yourself? - then you can carve yourself a nice archery thumb ring.

Carving several thumb rings out of antler is now on my DIY list. A single large antler piece should be enough for me to carve 4 - 6 thumb rings.

You can make your own archery thumb rings out of a variety of materials... Melted pennies (zinc/copper), antler, bone, ivory, stone, wood, steel, aluminum, plastic, old spoons, etc. Basically any hard material that can be carved smooth can be made into a good thumb ring.


Step One

To make your own archery thumb ring the most important step will be measuring your thumb so you know what size to make your thumb ring.

Step Two

Cut your antler into various pieces, each large enough for a thumb - some of them may not fit your thumb, but you can sell any extras you make for a tidy profit to people who want their own antler thumb ring.

You can experiment with different shapes if you want, but I have gone for the classic thumb ring shape.

NOTE - Do NOT soften your antlers in water before cutting them with any soft of saw. It will guck up your saw and be a mess to clean. Only soften the antlers in water when your are ready to carve with a knife.

Step Three

On a wooden board (so you don't damage your work bench) drill your thumb rings using a 1/2 inch drill bit and use a set of vice grips to hold the antler pieces steady while you work. Drill the holes all the way through.

You can even widen the holes further by using a larger drill bit or by angling the drill bit slowly in different angles to smooth / widen out the hole.

Step Four

Soak your antler pieces in water for at least half an hour to soften them up a bit. Myself I soaked them in hot water, figuring that a little extra heat would soften them up faster.

Technically it is preferable to soak antler for a week before carving, but I was in a hurry. Another possibility is to boil them in water for an hour - which I felt was excessive, but whatever. Soaking them in hot water worked just fine for me.

Step Five

Carve each thumb ring individually using a very sharp carving knife. Be careful not to cut yourself. As you carve periodically check to see if the thumb ring will fit your thumb. When it starts fitting your thumb carve it according to your personal comfort levels.

If you a rasp or files use those too. They're very handy for this kind of work. I am also periodically using very coarse sandpaper to smooth down some of the bits, but a file works faster.

Be careful not to make your thumb ring too big, otherwise it will slide around on your thumb too much.

If you take a break or leave your work for several days you will need to repeat Step Four before resuming Step Five again.

Step Six

Polish your near finished thumb rings using fine sandpaper. 

NOTE - Wait until the antlers are completely dry. Sandpaper polishing antlers that were recently soaked in water doesn't work very well.

Step Seven (Optional)

Cut a groove into the flat side of your thumb ring where your bowstring can hook into. Some archers like having a groove there so the bowstring doesn't slide around as much - some archers don't like the groove, saying it causes problems during the release. It is up to you.

NOTE - Antler dust SMELLS HORRIBLE. I know Koreans love drinking antler dust tea as a curative for arthritis and similar ailments, but I can only assume it also tastes horrible. Open a window and remember to clean up after you are done to get rid of the smell.

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