Antler Needle Case

The need to protect and store valuable items such as needles, fish hooks and other precious belongings can be traced back thousands of years; these containers have taken many forms and have been constructed of a range of materials. One that caught my attention was an antler neck case and with some spare antler in the shed a fresh craft project was in order.

To start, I selected a straight section of antler and cut off a length (7.5cm) large enough to comfortably store the needles I wanted to protect. I then drilled a large hole through the centre of the antler, removing the soft inner marrow but leaving plenty of wall thickness to keep the case strong. I used some wood offcuts to protect the antler from my vice. I then filed the inside with a round file to smooth out the surface and remove any remaining marrow.

File the top of the antler flat

I filed the top of the antler flat and then found some pieces of oak board to use as the end stoppers. I roughly marked the outside shape of the antler on the oak (leave plenty of space to work with) cut out a piece and then using a thin pencil, marked out the inner hole shape on the board. Using a rasp and file I formed the inner part of the stopper. Take your time with this and aim for a snug fit, where the stopper fits flat against the antler.

Using a rasp and file I formed the inner part of the stopper

Repeat this for the other end making sure the stoppers are thick enough to drill a hole for some elastic to pass through. Once shaped I glued one stopper to one end of the antler with epoxy glue and allowed it to cure.

Shape the stopper to match the outside of the antler

I then used a file to shape the stopper to match the outside of the antler, I clamped the other side and then filed the top stopper to match.

Clamp the other side and then file the top stopper to match.

To finish I drilled holes through both the stoppers, adding some elastic to hold the top stopper into the case and smoothed the whole case with the file and sand paper. I finished off the case with a few coats of Danish oil and used a small piece of felt to hold the needles together.

Finished needle case Credit images: Andy Wetherell

The project has been a mixture of old and modern techniques, using modern epoxy and elastic to keep the case closed. I’m intending to repeat the project using only natural glues and materials but that’s one for a rainy day.

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