Hi Gringo, thanks! I started with the front shinbone of a domestic cow. My brother and sister-in-laws raise cattle and I had them save me a few over the years. Only the front shinbones have enough thickness to use for slabbing. The ones they gave me weren't fresh, but they weren't thoroughly dried either. So, I built a cage from wire mesh and put the bones under the cage on the roof of one of my outbuildings to finish drying. The cage keeps the critters from gettin' to them.
After a good, long, hot summer, they were dry enough to slab up. To slab them, I started by cutting the center section into 4-5" long pieces. Discarding the knuckles. Next I used a large belt sander to flatten one edge of each piece, 'till I had a flat surface about an inch wide. I used this flat surface to run against a fence on my bandsaw. I had several pieces, so I made a variety of thicknesses from about an 1/8" to 1/4". After slabbing, I let the slabs dry for another month or so. I actually stickered them, kinda like you would do for drying green wood. During this drying process, most of the slabs developed small cracks, but the majority were surface cracks and only added character imho. Surprisingly, none of the slabs warped or twisted too awfully much.
Next, I used a Dremmel tool and tried doing a variety of jigging on a few sets. Results were, so-so. That's another area that will require a bit more practice.
I set back a few sets to leave natural. The others, I decided to do in 2 different colors. (blue & red)
I started by putting the slabs in a 175 degree oven. (as low as our oven will go) My thought was to open the pores of the bone, thinking this would allow the dye to penetrate deeper. In the meantime, I mixed up the 2 color batches using RIT fabric dye. I can't remember if the directions on the box called for it, but I heated the dissolved dye in a pan on the stove. This seemed like a good idea and I hoped this heat would also help the dye penetrate deeper.
Out of the oven and into the dye. I steeped the slabs for about 30 minutes and then shut down the burners and allowed them to cool slowly to room temp. Again, my theory was that this would lock the dye in and achieve maximum effect. I took the slabs out, rinsed them under cold water and allowed them to air dry for about 2 weeks.
All together I ended up with around 10 sets of each color (natural, red and blue) and roughly about 3 or 4 of each were in the jigged versions.
My brother is a fairly well established knife maker down in Ft. Smith, so I shipped the majority of the sets down to him. The rest i've used on a few stick blades i've custom built, but have sold or given away most all of those. I'm down to the last pair or two and it's about time to give it another try. I'm not sure what to do different, but as you can see, what started as a deep rich red, ends up more of a pink when shaped down to handles. The blue was pretty much the same way.
I'll try looking through my archives and see if I have pics of some of the other sets I had from this last batch. If I do, i'll post them. The jigged versions actually look pretty cool. The jigging stays dark, while the rest ends up the pale red and blue. I probably should have jigged more of them, but will practice my jigging technic before getting too carried away.
Anyway, that's the long winded version of how I did it. I liked the results, but it really wasn't what I was hoping for. WB