Introduction: Custom Wooden Deer Antler Chandelier
Once upon a time.... I was doing some hardware shopping at a hardware store when the northern winds blew and carried my wandering eyes and imagination to the electronics/lightings section. I threw my head back, leaving the jaw behind, and stared at the fancy chandeliers they were selling for an even fancier price. I came across a very unique type of chandelier which was put together using deer antlers! But not real antlers, of course, these were made from some sort of hard plastic i'm guessing. So after checking out this beautiful creation, I took a look at the price tag and was even more shocked! This thing cost like $400! That may not sound like much for some of you, since after all it is a beautiful work of art. But at the time I wasn't ready to throw half a grand into anything other than my bank account. So I walked out of that hardware store with a pocket full of cash and a brain full of imagination!
Here's a site that makes these things using real antlers, and you may not be surprised to learn that deer antlers can potentially cost more than your car;)
You could probably steal an idea or two from them while they're not looking and use it for your project. I won't tell.
Step 1: Get Workin'
I didn't waste much time. I got my weapon(jigsaw) and went hunting. I was looking for BIG meat. I soon found the widest and thickest pine board that I had at the time, which was about 40mm thick and about 35cm wide. I drew out a Y and...... and I slaughtered it. -Excuse the cheese please
Step 2: Cut Up Your Scrap Wood
Since I wanted to build this as cheap as possible and at the same time not waste too much "nice'' wood, I got out some scrap pine pieces that for some reason weren't ash yet. I broke them down into smaller pieces to later spend less time trimming and sanding.
Step 3: Method #1
There's two methods to putting together the antlers. This first method is the not-so-great method because it's more difficult, and more time consuming, but it's more durable, so I'll share it with you! For this method, you simply pile up the scrap pieces and glue them together. Then you set them on top of the "Y" wherever you like and clamp it down. This is why it's more durable. You can use clamps! And to shape the antlers, I trimmed a little with an axe and hand saw and the rest was done with a belt sander. Lets just say there was a lot of sanding done. Looking back, I could've probably used a router to do some rounding and trimming on the ''Y'' piece and save some sand paper, but I didn't have a router at the time so I was stuck with the belt sander. I guess it's better than hand sanding..
Step 4: Method #2
This is the easier method where you can use clamps to glue the scrap pieces together, but once you set it on the "Y", you'll have to clamp it by pressing it down with your hands. But this definitely is the better method since trimming and sanding is much easier when the pieces are separate from each other. I also used small wooden dowels when gluing to improve durability, since I wasn't using clamps.
Step 5: Take a Break
The finished antlers are also great for chasing geese if that's your thing..
Step 6: Show It to Your Calf
The calf didn't run. I think she liked it?!
Step 7: Get Back to Work
Ok. Now that I was done with the antlers, I got to building the center pieces. I just cut out 4 circle pieces with the jigsaw and glued 3 of them together. Of course my life would be easier if I had a lathe at the time. But that's life, kids (if there are any kids reading 'my craft' instead of minecraft) haha get it?!?! Alriiight, not funny, next step!
Step 8: Perfecting the Circle
To smooth out the edges of my circle, I hammered a feather drill dead center of the circle and grabbed it with my drill. Then clamping the belt sander upside down, I spun both. Worked out pretty good, almost lathe level.
Step 9: Finishing Up the Center Piece
Now it was time to carve out the the cylinder. I figured my awesome jigsaw wasn't awesome enough to cut through the thick material so I just drilled it out and then trimmed some of the imperfections. Then I took the fourth circle piece and glued it on. This will be the bottom face side of the center piece.
Step 10: Measure
Once that all dried, I measured the circumference and divided it by the number of holes. And then marked where the holes needed to be drilled.
Step 11: Scratch Your Dog
Don't get too carried away though, we've still got quite some drilling to do.
Step 12: You Guessed It!
Get out your power drill and drill bit and driiiillll! I used a 22mm drill bit and I wouldn't recommend going any smaller. After all, this is the part of the antler that will be holding the antler in place.
Step 13: Cover Piece
Cut out another circle but this time out of plywood. I screwed it on and trimmed it flush right away so that it's ready for painting.
Step 14: Second Story Center Piece
For this center piece, I took 3 scrap pieces of wood and glued them together and then rounded them out using the same previous techniques. This also needed to be hollow for all the wiring to run through, so I drilled a 32mm hole down the center.
Step 15: Trim the Tips
To trim the tips, I marked how deep and how long I wanted to go and used an axe and sander to trim it down to the 22mm size.
Step 16: Fit
As I trimmed every piece individually, I fit them in to make sure they all fit snuggly and straight.
Step 17: Paint
I decided to paint each piece separately so this way I won't miss any spots. So I hung each antler on fishing line and coated them with a thin layer of paint making sure there are no leak spots.
When choosing the paint, I wanted to find a color as close to real deer antler color as possible, and I when I chose this color, I thought I had it right. So I had the guys at the hardware store do their thing and they went over to their large paint making machine and mixed the right substances and pigments to get me the color I wanted. After the paint dried, I realized I could've went with a little more of a "tan" color for a more realistic look, but it's quite difficult to guess since dry paint looks different than wet, raw paint. And all I had at the store was wet, raw samples. But it was close enough. I used water based paint by the way.
Step 18: More Drilling
For the bulb socket fixtures, I drilled a 32mm hole about 2cm deep on all the antlers.
Step 19: Wire Hole
I drilled another hole about 5mm wide for the electrical wire to run through. It's important to hide as much wiring as possible, cause we all know, wires aren't pretty.
Step 20: Glue
Now it's time to assemble and glue all the parts. To do this, I just poured some glue on the tips, slid them into their individual openings and pressed them in, holding them in position for a few seconds while at the same time making sure they are as close to level as possible.
It's also very important to wipe off as much excess glue as possible in this step, since you can't really go back and sand it off once it's dry. Also, any glue that is not wiped off will be visible once dry. It'll have a slightly different tone of color than the rest of the workpiece.
Step 21: Electrical
Now that just about all of the woodworking and drilling is done, it's time to whip out your electrical skills. I'm not too professional with my electrical terminology, but bare with me as I try to explain in detail my wiring schematic.
I of course, ran two wires to every bulb. These wires were about 15cm long. These wires were then inserted into the holes on each separate antler - as shown in the photos above.
You might ask what's all that mess inside the center cap? Well that's just a bunch of wood chips that I mixed with glue and stuffed in between the antler tips for a more secure hold. It's an awesome woodworking technique because this stuff is hard as stone when dry. You should try it out sometime!
Step 22: Connect All the Wires
In my situation, I had 3 wires running from the ceiling, and 2 light switch keys. And as I said before, 2 wires coming from each bulb. So this is the simple layout that I used:
WIRE1- Connect this wire to each bulb. So one of the wires from each bulb is now occupied.
WIRE2- Connect this wire to the unoccupied 2nd wire of each "first floor" bulb (6bulbs) Now all the "first floor" wires are occupied
WIRE3- Connect this wire to the unoccupied 2nd wire of each "second floor" bulb (3bulbs) Now all the "second floor" wires are occupied.
*Make sure you use a good layer of masking tape and insulate the wires as much as possible. You don't want any sparks ever flying in there and lighting all that wood on fire.
When all this tiny finger work is done, stuff all the internals inside to hide them all and make sure none get jammed under the lid. Then screw your screws in from the top of the lid. This might be a tough reach, but try to fit at least 5 in there, since these will be holding a fair amount of weight.
Step 23: Top Lid
Before screwing on the top lid, I went into my shop and found a long bolt, and bent it into a U shape. I also got a metal chain about 25cm long which you can see in the future steps. I then drilled a small hole in the lid just large enough to fit a link of the chain through and then slid the U shaped bolt through the link. The bolt locks the link in place and doesn't let it slide out.
I also added a nut at the end of the bolt just in case it ever slides, the nut will prevent it from sliding completely out. But this shouldn't happen unless some kind of earthquake comes along. Now all that was left to do was to slide the wire through the hole and screw the lid on.
Step 24: Ceiling Cap
This ceiling cap was made at the end of the project since it took me a while to decide what design I was going to use for it. But it was a quick and simple make, following the same procedures as before. This ceiling cap is the same design as the ''first floor'' center piece except it's a bit smaller.
The rest of the attachments were to be made by the metal piece you see in the photos. I got this piece from the previous chandelier that was hanging in the room.
To attach it, I drilled a few holes in a row to make a thin line just big enough for the piece to fit through. Then I cut a small gap in the top link of the chain, and slid the metal attachment piece through it. So one side of the metal piece was attached to the chain, while the other 'unseen' part of the piece was hooked onto a hook that hung from the ceiling.
To keep the wire from loosely dangling alongside the chain, I slid it through each link, which turned out to look very nice. Then with quite some effort, I managed to slide the wire through the tiny hole of the top cap and attach it to the wires coming from the ceiling.
There really is no correct order in which to connect the 3 chandelier wires to the 3 ceiling wires. But each unique order will have its unique result when flipping the switches, so you'll have to play around with it a bit to get exactly what you want. Just please don't forget to cut the power at the circuit breaker before you go messing with the ceiling wires. You don't want to end up like all them unfortunate deer.
Step 25: "Oh Deer"
Hope you guys enjoyed this little project of mine, and hopefully you got yourself a brain full of ideas. I'm pretty happy that I was able to put all this together with just a handful of tools. But probably the best part about all this is that I just saved a couple hundred if not thousands of dollars with this project. If I were to estimate, I'd say I spent about $40 on everything(estimating the electricity cost.) I'd say that's pretty good and if you want to make something similar, you basically have no excuse!
Anyway, check the video up top to see some geese chasing, calf reactions, dog scratching, and of course, chandelier building! It might just give you a better picture of how it all came together.
Take care now, my 'deer' friends;)
Second Prize in the