Introduction: Carve a Traditional Maori Hook Necklace From Bone

About: Travelling since 2013. I'm currently in Australia for some reason. --- I’m Calvin Drews, and I love to learn, experiment, invent, create, repair, and generally just do things myself. A sort of modern jack of …

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 This is a Maori hook I carved from cow bone. Carving bone is a pretty slow process...I carved this over the course of two days.

Carving a personal 'totem' like this is kind of like a journey. It's a very personal experience...
After all the time and hard work invested, and holding something so pure and beautiful... something that you carved, is an experience everyone should have (but so few do).

Before you carve your Hook, I recommend reading up on Maori culture. It's very fascinating and helps give you the inspiration you'll need for the 'journey' ahead.

Step 1: Pattern

 Drawing a Maori hook is INCREDIBLY difficult. I recommend Googling "Maori Hook" and tracing a design you like. Cut out the traced hook, and transfer it to the bone blank (in pencil).

When picking a cow bone to carve, make sure it is white as paper. If it is in any way translucent or yellow, it contains grease. Grease will wreck your carving! Do not carve greasy bone!
You can get bone from PetsMart. It's in the form of cleaned bone dog toys (the ones made of REAL cow bone). You may even have a bone in your yard, dropped by some else's dog (or your own!).

From here on out, safety glasses are a must!

Step 2: Rough Carving

 I did this with a band saw. You could use a jewelers saw, but this is faster.
My blade is too wide to cut out the middle part, so I'll remove that with a jewelers saw in the next step.

I drilled a hole so I would have to remove less material with the jewelers saw.

Step 3: Cutting Out the Inside

 Use a jewelers saw to cut out the inside bits that you can't reach with a band saw..

Step 4: Cleaning Up

 Used the saw to refine your cuts. Remove jagged bits and "dead end" cuts.

Step 5: Removing Extra Material

 Use a 1.4'' drum sander to hog away extra bone. The idea is to hide the outline of the bone... make everything rounded and smooth. Even the back!

You should wear a respirator for this. Bone dust can hurt your lungs!

Step 6: Cleaning Up

 Use a small Dremel cone-shaped sander at HIGH SPEED to bevel and further refine the shape.
Remove EVERY LAST tool mark!

Step 7: Hand Tools From Here!

 The rest of the steps should be performed with hand tools.
Specifically, files. Lots and lots of, triangles files and chain saw files and miniature files.
Shape and curve it...round every single plane and angle. This thing needs to look like it grew off a tree or something. Perfectly smooth, slick, and a fish.

You will also need to define the barbs. See the photo...

Step 8: Sanding

 Remove all file marks leftover from the previous step. This will take some time...when you're done, remove the sandpaper marks with some fine wet dry sandpaper (I think i used 600 grit?).

The wet dry will get the hook really slimy and maybe even grimy. Gently wash the hook with warm water and shampoo/softsoap. After you wash it, it'll be insanely slippery (even when dry!)...I don't know why though. Don't drop it, or it'll crack.

Step 9: Burnishing

Use some pieces of a brown paper bag to polish the hook. This prepares the surface for the next step.

Step 10: Polishing

 Use car wax with abrasives in it. Put the car wax on a soft felt pad and rub everything down. It'll look pretty bad until you wash it.

After you wash it, polish it with a towel (like a beach towel). After you use the towel, use a clean piece of felt, then a piece of paper to finish the shine. At this point, it'll look shinier than's unreal.

After it was all shiny, I drilled a hole in it. As far as the tying of it, you're on your own. It's pretty easy to figure out of you look at my picture. There are about 4,000 ways to do you'll definitely figure one out pretty quickly!

For some reason, I cannot catch the shine with my camera! I assure you, though, it's like a mirror!