03 Apr How to Make an Antler Chandelier
As one of the UK’s main suppliers of antler chandeliers we sometimes get emails from people asking how to make an antler chandelier. This year we decided to put together an article how we’d go about making them. Of course should you decide it’s all a bit too fiddly for you, you’ll find loads of stunning designs in our shop here.
Before we start
A word of warning – making an antler chandelier from scratch can be quite tricky. Antlers come in different shapes and sizes, and their weight can make them difficult to work with. Be prepared to get creative with your designs and inventive with your construction techniques.
Real Antlers vs Resin Antlers
If you are looking for the easiest way to build an antler chandelier we recommend either buying an antler chandelier kit or buying hollow, man-made resin antlers which are much easier to work with when it comes to installing electrical wiring.
That being said this article assumes that you are after a more authentic, home-made piece using real antlers so we have laid out some guidelines below.
A friendly reminder about real antlers
There is a common misconception that antlers used to make antler chandeliers are taken unethically from deer. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Male deer (stags) naturally shed their antlers every year between late December and mid-March, and then regrow them over the summer months. The older a stag is the larger and wider his antlers grow so if you see a chandelier with very large antlers you can be sure they have come from a mighty old stag.
If you feeling adventurous and love the outdoors then scouring the countryside during shedding seasons is one way to find real antlers. Alternatively you can buy real bone shed antlers from hunting goods stores, eBay, gumtree, farm shops and specialist outdoor companies that work with antlers such as Horn Carver. Be sure to select antlers of similar colour to have a consistent look.
As a starting point we recommend you have a design in mind. Take a close look at the antlers you have, or a design you wish to create before sourcing. This way you will be able to produce a symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing chandelier. Feel free to browse our catalogue to get some ideas. The general rule is that larger antlers make up the bottom layer, with layers above getting gradually smaller, but feel free to experiment.
Select a chandelier frame
You need a chandelier frame to build your antler chandelier around. Buy a cheap regular chandelier from a department store, or if you’re looking to save money there are plenty of second-hand alternatives on online marketplaces. If you are planning to construct an antler chandelier solely using antlers (without a metal frame) buy a chandelier wiring kit from a lighting store, preferably one with a central stem.
The most important thing to consider is the size of the chandelier’s arms and central stem. Is it large enough and sturdy enough to attach your antlers to? Are you going to use the in-built light fittings or make your own ones in the antlers? And does the frame size of the chandelier complement the size of your antlers?
Lighting and wiring
It’s important to note that real antlers are solid bone. This means, if your design has light bulbs coming out the antlers themselves, you will need to be quite handy with a drill. Depending on the size and shape of the antlers you may need some help with this. Alternatively you can simply use the antlers as decoration and shape and style them around a chandelier’s existing light fittings.
Prepping your antlers
It’s advised to thoroughly clean your antlers with oil soap, and when dry spray paint with a couple of clear coats of polyurethane. This will add a protective layer to the antlers ensuring they will keep their sheen and colour over the years. If your antlers are damaged in places you may also wish to fill these holes and cracks with putty and sand away bumps and knots before-hand. You can then stain the sanded parts of the antlers with wood stain to colour match the rest of the antler.
Alternatively if you are going for a specific look, such as all white or all black, a simple way to achieve this striking effect is to spray paint the antlers (and the frame) so they are all exactly the same colour. Take look at some of our all white chandeliers or all black chandeliers for inspiration.
A Drill, a long strong drill bit, a small strong short drill bit, long screws, a reel of string, lots of super glue, thin strong wire, modelling clay, electrical wiring, light sockets and bulbs.
Putting it together
If you are adding your own light fixtures to the antlers start by drilling lengthways through the neck of the antlers to create concealed channels to run your electrical wiring. Once you reach the point where you want to affix light fittings, stop and create holes in the top of the antlers where you want the lights to rest. Take some electrical wiring and thread it through the entire length of the channels you have created. Attach the wiring at the antler end to your new light fittings and super glue those to the antlers. If your antler’s surface isn’t flat here, use moulding clay to level it off.
You now need to attach your antlers to the chandelier frame. This is hardest part and will take some trial and error. Lay your newly wired antlers out on a table and being attaching them to the chandelier frame and each other using long screws, super glue and strong wire. You may want to screw pairs of the antlers together at the neck to simplify the attachment process. One way to ensure the weight is distributed is to super glue sides of the antlers to the arms of the chandeliers.
We recommend using a chandelier frame with at least 4 existing metal arms as this will offer lots of places to attach the antlers to. Once the antlers are firmly attached to the chandelier frame gather together all of the individual wires and connect to the mains wiring in your chandelier. Make sure the chain that supports your handy work is strong enough to bear the weight and get help when using a step ladder to hang it.
Stand back and admire your home-made antler chandelier.
We also found this video that gives some very good practical tips