Making inscribed antler plaques

Viking antler plaques for keepsake boxes


One of the fantastically versatile uses for antler is to make flat plates. These can be rectangular, curved, or irregularly shaped depending on the material and your need, and are used for a variety of purposes.

Antler plates are what make up the elaborate Viking antler combs you can see below:

The teeth are carved from many individual plates, held in place by the long braces, and riveted together. If you want to make your own comb, check out this blog for a fantastic how-to process:

You can also use plates for bracelets and pendants, plaques, inlays, and more. Ever seen wooden boxes or furniture with beautiful pearl inlaid decoration? Or bone, or ivory?  Antler plates can be used in exactly the same way, and either left blank to show off the natural beauty of the material, or inscribed with decoration.

For one of our most recent Hart of Ely workshops, we shared with the guys at the Dusty Shed how to make these plates, and then they created their own, decorating them and affixing them to pre-made wooden boxes, either with glue or copper rivets.

The results were fantastic, and really show off the individuality of the makers!  Check them out below!

These photos show Ian using a homemade replica hand-drill to make holes in the box lids, and then showing the guys how to attach the antler using copper rivets!


This box was made by Sid and his nurse Natalie – the runes say “EMILY”, and this box was made for his granddaughter


This beautifully elaborate box was created by Paul, and he used symbols to tell a wonderfully detailed creation myth, and show off his very impressive carving skills at the same time!


Peter's box

This one was made by Peter, again  as a jewellery box for his granddaughter Ella – whose name is on the inscription. Peter stained and varnished his box, and it looks great!


Michael's box

This final box was made by Michael, of the HOE project, and the runes here say “WODEN” – an Old English name for Odin, the head of the Nose Pantheon.