'Preparing Deer and Antelope Hoofs to Use on Rattles, Bandoliers and Decorations', an illustrated four page article by Ken Smith
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Preparing Deer Hoofs:    page 2

Basic Trimming

At this point, you have a hoof like you would get from a trading post, but to make them useable , more work is required. First, the large open end of the hoof needs to be trimmed back square so that all 3 sides of the bell are about equal in length. You can lay the hoof, pad side down on a board and cut down thru the hoof and the pad with a sawing motion of your knife.

basic trimming cuts The next step is to trim the thickness of the rough, soft, swollen pad. If the pad thickness is not trimmed down, it will dry rough and thicker thus dampening the pretty sound of the finished hoofs rattling together. See fig. 1 again. Starting at the tip of the hoof, bring your knife blade down across the pad and trim flush with the side edges of the hoof material. Slice smoothly all the way to the wide base of the hoof. Inspect the bottom edge of the trimmed pad. About 1/16 inch thickness is good. I emphisize the word "about". I use a real inch measurement to give you an idea of what works, that is all. If you feel the pad is still too thick, just trim again. If you have trimmed too thin or have gone all the way thru the pad at some spot, don't worry, I'll show you some great ways to finish without this section.

The next step is to trim the tip of the hoof to form a flat spot. You want the flat spot fairly big so that once you put a hole thru it (to hang the hoof by), it'll be strong enough to keep the cordage from breaking through the hole's rim. Also, the further down you trim, the less distance to drill, burn or awl through. At this point. while the hoof is still soft, you can use an awl with a square shank and with a twisting motion, start a hole down thru the flat spot you have created. You can do the entire hole now or just start one that can be finished (by drilling or burning) once the hoof has dried.You will notice that the hoof now roughly forms a 3 sided bell if hung by the tip.

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