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Bone cleaning

Was: [Source] Bone disks

Hi…I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t know what the actual
question was referring to. :slight_smile: I did want to share this resource with
you…there are many people doing this. They use beetles,
mostly…but here you can get an idea on this one site. It’s a place
to start looking for bone disks. Hope it helps.

Check out the links…call a few places…someone is sure to know how
to help you.


Is the question still how to clean the bones?? I’ve sort of lost
track of this thread. If this post is irrelevant, just ignore it,
everybody. But this occurred to me when the topic first came up and
I assumed someone would suggest it. Maybe someone has…

Why not contact one of the Maori bone carvers - they use cow and
bull bones - and see what they do? I found one site:

if you click on Joe Katoa, you will come to a page that will link
you to a short description of how to prepare a bone, and also to
some books.

Seems like he just soaks the bones, scrapes off the flesh and them
soaks some more in bleach, the dries. (Could that be all there is to

I’m sure if you emailed him he would answer any questions about
preparing the bones, as would any of the Maori bone carvers on the
web. I would think they would be the experts on this.


Seems like he just soaks the bones, scrapes off the flesh and them
soaks some more in bleach, the dries. (Could that be all there is
to it?) 

This is fine if you want all the calcium to be leached out by the
bleach. Taxidermists use a special chemical to whiten bones, not

Lindsay Legler
Dreaming Dragon Designs

I always used the stock pot method but here are the bugs:

Start with beef shank bones band saw in half longitudenly scrape out
the marrow.

cook until clean (add soda - sounds good0 flaten on a sander and
saw out the pieces.)

see New Zealand bone carving – I brought a book back from NZ.


their real name is dermestid beetles (not sure on the spelling).
Taxidermists use them, you start with some adults ant they multiply
like bugs, and when the job is over they die. Or if your into it
you can keep a small colony around for the next victim. 

You cannot get away with that in practice. The larvae do most of the
cleaning, and if you just put in adults you will end up wasting the
beetles. If you are going to try cleaning anything with dermestid
beetles, you need to set up a large colony and get it really going
and healthy before ever introducing dead animal bits.

Lindsay Legler -who knows an obscene amount about taxidermy and
bones for someone who doesn’t mount animals for a living.

there are many people doing this. They use beetles, mostly... 

Well, blow me down… I had no idea! There’s even one in northern
Illinois! I kinda want to do this myself, but if not, now I know
where to go.


By simply boiling the bone, you can get it very white. I do this
quite often for some of my cultural objects, and a skull only looks
good when really white. You have to change the water fairly often,
and just keep boiling. The fat will make it look yellow, so skim it
off at every chance.

If you want it really, really white. boil and then time in the sun is
the only natural way. I know some people that use hydrogen peroxide,
but I don’t think it makes any difference. just my tuppence.

Frank A. Finley
Salish Silver