Bone Nut How To?

December 6th, 2007, 09:46 PM
With all the talk here about bone nuts I've really been wanting to try one.

My question: Is it possible to make one myself from a cow bone or something? I understand that the bone would have to be large enough of course and that working with bone produces a horrible odor and all that...

Steak bone, roast bone, something like that?
Would it have to be dried or something first?

I'm a real DIYer and would rather spend hours making something myself than buying a readily available one. I've got a band saw and all kinds of sanders.
Just really wondering

Colt W. Knight
December 6th, 2007, 09:49 PM
Well, you would have to get a bone before it had a chance to become very porous, such as something left out in the elements. Also, you would need to take the portion of the bone from the diaphysis instead of the epiphysis. Cow bones are pretty tough to work with, I've tried making knife handles from them.

December 6th, 2007, 09:54 PM
Scrimshaw is the art of engraving into whale bones... at school we did versions of it using cow bone. A local butcher supplied us with a femur, which we cut down and boiled (creating a really bad smell). You can't use the porous bits, so the thickest bone pieces you could find were just about enough for a nut (if I remember correctly).

December 6th, 2007, 10:02 PM
diaphysis instead of the epiphysis

What part(s) of the cow is that?

Thanks guys.

How bout deer antlers? There's lots of them available this time of year around here.

Colt W. Knight
December 6th, 2007, 10:40 PM
The diaphysis would be the middle/shaft portion of the bone. This part will be less porous. The ends, the epiphysis where the epiphyseal plate/growth plates are will be way to porous for any type of nut making application.
Previous post brings up a good point, any local butcher should be happy to supply you with a femur, a femur should be the densist bone as its designed to take a lot of compression. A fresh bone will be covered with a tough membrane, called the periosteum.
If you plan to use a belt sander, dont let bone heat up too much. It may have a tendency to warp when heat is applied.
Let me know if you get a good nut, and I'll have to make myself one.

December 6th, 2007, 10:57 PM
Thanks Colt and Aznrambo.

I think I am going to try it. We have a 'custom' butcher and processing business here in town.

Per the stinch of boiling off the bone I'm not going to do it indoors. My neighbors already think I'm crazy anyway so I'll do it outside.

Actually, I was thinking about replacing about 6 nuts on my current guitars but maybe I should just concentrate on getting one done first.

Thanks guys. If it turns out I'll post, if not I won't ever mention it again >wink<

December 6th, 2007, 11:07 PM
it was amusing... the cow-bone boiling was done as part of a school club. We used a biology teacher's back room to arrange 4 hot plates under a huge pot, and kept it cookin' for a couple of days. The smell inevitably wafted out and stunk up the whole building, and the back room was nearly unbearable.

Colt W. Knight
December 6th, 2007, 11:42 PM
I've boiled carcasses to get bones, but I've never had to worry about porosity. I'm not sure what would be the best way to go about getting bones used for carving and nut production. Whatever you do, you have to make sure the bone is dry and stabilized. That would suck to go through the trouble of making a perfect nut, only to have it shrink or warp a few weeks later.
Its been several years since I worked with bone, but I think it has the capacity to warp under heat, and change size as moisture evaporates. Not to the extent of wood, but still with precesion work like a nut, it needs to be perfect.

December 7th, 2007, 12:12 AM
Just call me Nutty..but wouldn't it be much easier just to get some Bone Nut Blanks, from a well-known Luthier Supply...and know what you're dealing with...so when you're all done making it..you'll have something that was worth the effort ?....They have Pretty much sorted out which bone works well...and which doesn't...why start at square one....when folks have spent decades deciding what works and sounds best...but that''s just me.......:wink:

December 7th, 2007, 12:20 AM
Some pet shops sell bleached cow bones for Fido to chew on.

Some don't.

I've made several nuts and saddles for acoustics out of that stuff.

Colt W. Knight
December 7th, 2007, 12:32 AM
Sometimes it just fun to make things from scratch.

I made this for my girlfriend. I did all the cutting with a hand saw, and nailed all the joints instead of using glue. I planned all the lumber to thickness using my central machinery 6" belt sander. Lined all the drawers with velvet I bought by the yard at wal mart, and turned the knobs from 1" brass round stock.
I could have went to any big box store and bought a jewelry box.
Kinda funny, I went with the relic finish before I knew that people reliced guitars.
Why? because I engineered the box as I went along. It probably doesnt have a 90 degree angle in it. I went with the relic to hide all the flaws.

Mike Simpson
December 7th, 2007, 12:35 AM
I buy the unbleached cow bones at Petsmart that they sell for dogs to chew on.... ssshhh don't tell Ralph... The ones that are a little brownish... I cut them up on the band saw and shape them on the belt sander and then slot them with nut files from stewmac. They look "vintage" because they are not boiled and bleached. Really stinks making them. Ya... you can buy preshaped Fender bone nut blanks for a few bucks too... where's the fun in that?

December 7th, 2007, 12:48 AM
Now this is just kinda getting fun. YES I know it would be easier to just go buy some nut blanks but that just wouldn't be me. Way to easy considering the family motto (Nothing can ever be easy).
Mainly I was just wondering what would be involved in making my own from table scraps because I have been wondering what I'm throwing away for some time now.
Thanks for the tips though. I'll visit a big box pet store next time I'm in San Antonio.

Nick JD
December 7th, 2007, 02:01 AM
From here (http://www.carving.co.nz/howto.html) it says to do this - which is what I did.

The rear shin bone of a cow is the preferred bone for most carvers.

* Get it fresh with the ends cut off (it should be available from any butcher)

* Clean and scrape it thoroughly inside and out. Remove the marrow, etc.

* Wash in very hot water and detergent

* Place in large pot with hot water, detergent and an enzyme nappy (diaper) cleaner such as "Nappy-San." Triple the quantities recommended on the packet

* Stew gently for hour then leave for a day or two to soak.
DO NOT BOIL -- this makes them hard and brittle

* Rinse, re-scrape and dry

* Cut off oily parts of the bone (using a hacksaw) or the oils will spread through and discolour the white parts of the bone

Westerly Sunn
December 7th, 2007, 07:26 AM
I've been saving a few of the sections of bone you get outta' of a ham steak...
Figured I make picks out of them...

December 7th, 2007, 06:01 PM
I did like Big Mike on the banjos I've built. Be warned that bone is HAAAAARD! And like you said, it smells bad when working it. But it does gain you macho points. --Rob

Colt W. Knight
December 7th, 2007, 06:34 PM
I did like Big Mike on the banjos I've built. Be warned that bone is HAAAAARD! And like you said, it smells bad when working it. But it does gain you macho points. --Rob

How many macho points do you get if you kill and butcher the animal yourself?