Picture of How to Carve Bone Into Jewlery
In this instructable I will be teaching you how to carve bone into tribal pendants, or anything really.
Carving bone is a cheap fun hobby that takes up a lot of time. After just a few days you may be able to make something impressive. But as I understand it takes many years to master.

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Step 1: Tools and Materials You Will Need

Picture of Tools and Materials You Will Need
You will absolutely need these items
And a dremel with a diamond bit, a drill bit, and sanding bits with sand paper .

To make better designs you will also need:
Sand paper 300, (600, 1000 are optional. I don't have any and will explain what to do if you don't have any either)
A jewelers saw with the coarsest blade you can find
1 needle files (The one is the coarseness of the file)
a tooth brush
Baking soda
and a Linen towel

Step 2: Find insperation

Picture of Find insperation
To find ideas for designs I look at, tribal tattoo's  and other peoples work.

Then I enter GIMP and draw my design and print it out. (If like 15 people request it I will make a GIMP tutorial on how to make templates.)

Then I get ready to carve

I recommend that beginners start off making harpoon tips to get used to the material and tools they are using.

Step 3: Trace Your Template on Your Bone.

Picture of Trace Your Template on Your Bone.
Trace your template on your bone!

Step 4: Start Making Your "Blank"

Picture of Start Making Your
1. Sand down the edges of the bone until it is flat.

2. Cut out your pater roughly using the jewelery saw leaving about 3/4 a centimeter around your pattern.

3. Round off the edges of the blank carefully with the dremel and sandpaper bit 

Step 5: Add the Rest of Your Patern

Picture of Add the Rest of Your Patern
I drew  a little wave inside the pendant by removing negative space.

Step 6: Drill holes into the Area That Needs to be Removed

Picture of Drill holes into the Area That Needs to be Removed
Drill a hole into the area that needs to be removed and then insert the saw blade in the hole.
Toa6763 years ago
For all of you that are starting up, all these tools to start up if you are in the US you can get the majority of the hand tools from Harbor Freight. Needle files, large regular hand files, to substitute the Jewelers saw you can get a coping saw. Almost exactly the the same except the Jewelers blades are much thinner and for finer cuts. Practicing with the coping saw before buying the other one, would be the best way. The Dremels are the best to get, kind of expensive Harbor Freight has a cheaper version more economical if you're starting out. And the burr kits at harbor freight are way cheaper with the same or more of variety of burrs that can help you speed up the process of carving bones. The burrs are the technical term for the little tips you put into the Dremel or what ever kind you're using to help carve the bones. As for where to get your bones the local butcher at your grocery store if you ask will give them to you, or a meat processor these are the places that pre- process the meat before coming to the grocery store. The local one here said I could have as much as I wanted. We're talking like full femur's with knuckles, only problem they still have tendons, meat ,hair etc. to be cleaned by you. There's sites that give you the ways to clean those. If, you need design ideas put bone carving in as a search you'll be amazed at what you see. I'm Polynesian most of the designs you'll see are Maori ( Natives of New Zealand ) designs. Many of them have special and specific meanings, my family is from another Island and my designs are focusing to the natives from our Island ( Tonga ). Hopefully this will help those of you that are starting out, I wished I had as much information as I have provided for you, I have more info just ask ? See ya
laurie.mumm11 days ago

One source of clean bones when starting out is Petco which has sterilized cow bone intended for dog chews. I've also seen them on Amazon as well under dog bones.

ArticAkita2 months ago
Dr.Foster & Smith pet catalog usually carries sawed off cleaned bones you can use! To obtain bones ready to carve on, treeline carving catalog sells reagdy to carve on bone blanks reletively cheap also all the carving & sanding goodies you could want with wishing you had them NOW! also hobby shops might have the coping saws & blades too.
kate.oboyle13 months ago

Hello everyone,

I'm having a tough time trying to just find the uncarved bone pieces. I've tried everywhere including fire mountain gems since they usually have everything...does anyone know a supplier that sells the bone uncarved so that I can make my own designs? Thanks for any support : D

If you are just having a time finding clean bone in general, just go to a good petstore, they have bone chunks not busted up pieces. Also Petco miiiight have what you arel looking for save clean out the cheese filler first. :) I have made my own bone blanks the hard way collect the discarded fresh often meaty & messy (not to gross out the more sensitive of you all out there!) one thing nobody mentions in these kind of instructables is with wet bone will crack up letting it just air dry! If I had a good working camra I'd maske my own instructable about cleaning bones for projects like this!
are the files seperate to the dremmel or do they attach? does it make a difference how fresh the bone is?
i got some good bits and some burnt bits still waiting for the fleshybones to settle...
xanxor (author)  scrapy magoo3 years ago
separate. they are jewlers file, if you can get diamond ones at 0 or 00 coarseness. they are kinda expensive tough. what you'll need most are a ound file a half round and a flat file.

I used a cow bone from pet-co. I think that you might want to use sun bleached bones if possible. or boiled and bleached ones

(please wear a respirator)
Aunt Jane xanxor4 months ago

I went to the local Meat market and told them I wanted large leg bones. They cut them on their saw to manageable lengths. Then you have to clean and degrease!

So Jane in order to get bone I should go to my local butcher? Hahah I'm an artist and I've done probably every single art type possible, except this one and I love the necklaces so I wanted to get into it. I've been making them out of wood but I can't find bone samples anywhere..any tips?

-Katie Bizz

In some places finding a real butcher that actually cuts up beef carcases may be difficult. I've been told that moose bones are good but haven't managed to get one yet! Cleaning the bone and soaking it in detergent/degreaser is what I've been doing and then if it isn't white enough I've used chlorine bleach but most experts say not to. One website suggested soaking in an ammonia/water solution. I don't think you are supposed to boil. Just experiment! The bones I used to buy my dog at Petco have flavor added so I don't think they are a great idea.

I use my Dremel tool on it BTW

You might also try Targua nuts (vegetable ivory). Smaller pieces and very hard but pretty! this is one source - have fun! - or - -

kate.oboyle13 months ago

Hello everyone,

I'm having a tough time trying to just find the uncarved bone pieces. I've tried everywhere including fire mountain gems since they usually have everything...does anyone know a supplier that sells the bone uncarved so that I can make my own designs? Thanks for any support : D

bonealert1 year ago

Would you use the dremel to cut through the bone from one side to the other? I'd like to go through a bone lengthwise.


bstragier made it!1 year ago

I made a moon pendant! awesome instructible!
One thing i did different was using dremmel grinding piece to get the rounded edges faster then went back and cleaned it up with sandpaper.

2014-01-29 21-18-43.985.jpg
hnrmcfadden3 years ago
Where/how do you get your bones? What advice would you offer in picking a bone.
xanxor (author)  hnrmcfadden3 years ago
Petco, petsmart ect. the bone I used was a cow femur

they very greatly try and find own the the maximum amount of thick reasonably fat pieces
(please wear a respirator)
cwix093 years ago
Are jewelry saws different then normal saws?
xanxor (author)  cwix093 years ago
yes, they are a lot smaller and are made to cut corners
Skwaab4 years ago
I noticed whilst dremeling it, the smell isnt too bad.

Smells like cheesy dorito's. And for the dust, its not too much of a problem, thats what mucus is for.
xanxor (author)  Skwaab4 years ago
Not really bone dust is horrible on your lungs up there with asbestos and that crap. It's your choice to wear a mask or something, but I'd recommend it.
get a rotisserie motor and some alligator clips and get some of the long drying 2-ton epoxy. its better than nail polish and will seal the bone, making it non porous and ensuring it will stay white. putting it on the rotisserie motor while the stuff dries will ensure an even coat. 2 ton epoxy is extremely tough. i use it on fishing lures.
jtobako4 years ago
Did the file get dull or just filled with bone dust?  If all the grooves are full of white stuff that won't come out, use the edge of a penny or a brass brush (or even a steel one, but it will wear the file out more quickly) to push the bone dust out of the groves.  Let the 'teeth' of the file bite into the penny, and push the length of the tooth rather than the length of the file to clean them out.
could use one of the rubber file cleaning blocks. those work pretty righteously..
xanxor (author)  jtobako4 years ago
no all the ridges are nill i use a tooth brush to clean my files.
jtobako xanxor4 years ago
I don't think a toothbrush is going to be aggressive enough to dig out the compacted bone dust.
xanxor (author)  jtobako4 years ago
It is. i can see my file like i said the ridges are flat, it has the grinding capacity of a normal piece of steel.
i like this setp. no pictures. four words say it all =)
xanxor (author)  Bodygard11174 years ago
It's kind of hard to take a picture of yourself holding a 1bit jewelers saw without breaking something. XD
flyingwaya4 years ago
don't make soup with it or it will lock in some of the fat. It's best if you slowly decrease it with a fish heater and soapy (Dawn ) water. I use a 100wt under water fish heater. Thats the best way to get a nice white bone, I know cause I'm trained to do taxidermy. I hope this will help you clean you nexted bone you get to work on.
xanxor (author)  flyingwaya4 years ago
i only need the knuckle to make soup. a about an inch of femur.
flyingwaya4 years ago
Where can someone buy the bone to make in jewelry.
xanxor (author)  flyingwaya4 years ago
Um you can get some nice pearly white sterilized bone at most pet stores that have dog toys. make sure to look for a femur with lots of thick flat spots as these are the best to carve. I'm currently in the market for a nice big leg to try and sterilize myself... (after i make soup with it)