It was a hunt to remember, but the antlers weren’t big enough to justify a mount. So you’ve hung them from the workshop rafters, where soon they’ll be forgotten. Why not make a memento before the mice start nibbling? That way you not only have a keepsake that recalls a special day, but an heirloom you can pass down to the next generation. I’m talking about crafting a knife. All you need is a steady hand and a few tools, plus a stick-tang blade and a brass guard that you can order from a knife supply outlet such as Ragweed Forge (www.ragweedforge.com).
Select a straight or gently curved antler section that comfortably fills the hand and cut to length with a hacksaw (some knife makers like to use the antler button for the butt). Fit the guard over the tang of the knife, fine-tuning the slot opening with files until it fits snugly just behind the edge of the blade.
Place the blade-and-guard assembly against the antler handle to see where you need to drill the hole. Clamp the handle in a padded vise and, using a small bit, drill the hole for the tang. Enlarge the hole, using progressively larger bits, then finish excavating the slot with files until the tang and assembly fit into the hole. Don’t worry if the tang fit is a little sloppy (it leaves more room for the glue), but make sure the blade-to-guard fit, and the guard-to-handle fit, are exact before proceeding further. Cement the tang in the slot using two-part 30-minute epoxy.
That’s all there is to it, except for finishing with fine sandpaper and polishing up the blade and guard on a buffing wheel. Use carnauba-based furniture wax to polish the handle to a soft sheen.
Now you’re ready to skin next year’s deer.