Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Sawing elk teeth

Hi again,

For Christmas, I received 10 elk teeth. The are many years old and
came from a deceased uncle-in-law. Can anyone offer me advice on
sawing them properly for thier ivory, rather than using the teeth
straight up?

Thanks in advance,


I use my jeweler’s saw with a 2/0 blade to cut the dentin and root
off the tooth. Depending on how you want to set it use your flat lap
(I think I remember you had an Inland Swap Top) to shape it. Be
careful not to destroy the rings on the teeth that have them. For
molar teeth I cut the roots and dentin off then grind a bevel around
the edge to the tooth can be set as a cabochon. You might want to
wear a mask when working with Elk’s teeth. Something about once
alive can make you sick. Better safe than sorry.

Rick Copeland

A couple of years ago, a friend asked me to make a pendant to hang an
elks tooth. It was for his son and he had shot the elk with his own
bare hands. If I recall correctly with travel weapons, guides, room
and such it cost him around $8-9,000 which I thought was crazy but I
guess that is really none of my business. Anyway I made a silver
holder that did not require much work on the tooth. I thought it was
dreadful, they both liked it a lot. The more interesting part is that
several of an elk’s teeth are considered ivory rather than tooth. I’m
not sure which but it might be worth looking into. And use a dust
mask if grinding on teeth and such.

Gook luck Jim


Elk teeth are great! I have made 100’s of pieces of jewelry with
them. Just use a 2/0 saw blade cut the eye off with 2mm to spare and
set as you like. The root can be used for jewelery also carving the
slicing them and even setting stones in the centers.

Chip Stone
Stonecraft jewelers

I have a hint - don’t breathe the dust! They can be cut with your
jeweler’s saw or just abut any other.


Good Afternoon Ganoksin

I have been following this string with interest, (as I do all of them
actually) and it has brought up a question for me about wearing a
mask when working with Ivory. I have a stash of Mammoth Tusk Ivory
that I have been cutting and grinding designs and shapes into for
into assorted cabochons and such. Is the material unsafe in some way
and can it actually cause health hazards? I know it stinks to high
heaven. I have sat over the work in very close proximity sometimes
for hours while working on it with different burs in my flex shaft
and it never occurred to me to wear a mask, DOH!, so now I am
wondering if I should have taken better health precautions. Most of
my ivory is really clean cut scraps, (I purchased it all from a knife
scale manufacturer), but there are some pieces that are what they
called “bark” or the outside of the tusk and are a little dirty.
Having been a nurse for years before returning to school in Fine Art,
I don’t know why I didn’t flash on wearing a mask, I just dealt with
the stink and ignored it. I would also be interested in knowing what,
if anything in particular, I’ve exposing myself to, if anyone knows
for certain.


For Christmas, I received 10 elk teeth. The are many years old and
came from a deceased uncle-in-law. 

You uncle-in-law was an elk??

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

That’s the English language for you. As Groucho Marx said, “Time
flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

Happy New Year, and keep laughing.