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Re: Bone folders

I don't know the history of bone folders, but an old retired binder once
told me that in his day they were expected to make their own bone folders.
He made his from the bone in a large roast.

Most of the bone folders available these days (and for some time past) are
made from cow bones.  This is not bad, but it ain't good.  The leg bones of
game animals are far stronger than domestic animal bones.

You don't have to be a hunter to get game bones.  In Oregon, elk season
happens last in the year and there is often snow on the ground in the
mountains where the herds are.  I go into those areas a couple of days
after the season ends stop at the abandoned campsites and collect the leg
bones which are left behind by successful hunters.  Often, they also leave
the hides.

They cut the legs off at the knees.  The fore legs have bones which make
good (long) blunt folders; the hind legs have bones which make good folders
which are pointed at one end and blunt at the other end.  Or is it the
other way around?  I really don't pay much attention to that anymore.

To make them, I remove the skin (fleshed, limed, dehaired, and alum tawed,
it makes great sewing supports or leather for a quarter binding); cut the
hooves off above the ankle with a hacksaw and toss them into a canning
kettle on the wood stove in the garage (for some reason my wife won't let
me do this in the kitchen...) wait for the neatsfoot oil to rise to the top
and skim it off; the tendons can be cooked down to make glue.

The bones are tossed into the pot (after the hooves/neatsfoot oil is
removed) and the meat is cooked off.  The marrow has to be removed and I
generally do this by taking a hot bone out of the pot with a pair of pliers
in one hand and grab it with the other (gloved) hand and swing the bone
hard.  If the cooking is done, the marrow slips out easily.  The cats and
birds really like it.

Then I change the water and boil the bones again to get most of the
remaining oil out.  When the bones are dry, I fire up my bench top band saw
and slice two folders from each leg bone.  The scraps of bone which are
left are useful for any number of purposes.

The folders are finished with files, sandpaper, belt sanders, scrapers,
steel wool, etc. depending on what you have available.

I don't make them for sale, but Jim Croft does.  I don't know what his
prices are, but he can be contacted at: P.O. Box 211, Santa, Idaho 83866

Hope these tidbits were interesting.


>Date:    Tue, 10 Jun 1997 22:46:19 EDT
>From:    Marcia Buch <buch@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>Subject: Bone folders
>What is the history of bone folders? How do they make them today?  Which
>country?  I use a bone folder all the time but know little about the origin.
>Does anyone having interesting tidbits about this wonderful tool?  Thanks in
>advance!  Marcia Buch   buch@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Lab
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, OR  97217


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