Building a Dance Floor for Angels: Pinmaking Pt I

When last we spoke, I was in the dark a bit. That too has passed, but we’re falling behind a bit, so I’m going to go through this pretty fast so I can get to the Haberdashers, which should be an easy transition at least.
The Bone
When doing something like this, it’s easy to forget that the tools are not the object of the exercise, but steps necessary to achieve the real object. Because of myriad interruptions by the real world, this has been a bit like focusing a black smithing book on how to make an anvil.

Let’s get the bone out of the way then, shall we?

As previously noted, I ended up making my pin bone from a beef bone sold at a pet store for dogs to gnaw on. I boiled it until the ‘meaty’ bits were loose and then scraped it with a knife blade until it was clean and smooth. There followed an extended stint in a hydrogen peroxide bath both to bleach the bone and hopefully clean out any remaining contaminants that might foul my experience.

I carefully chose my bone from the pile at the pet store by laying them on the floor, looking for the most stable base for pin making. I have to wonder what the pet store folks thought of this madman crouched on the floor, examining how steadily each of their dog bones lay on the tiles. This meant I didn’t need to shear slices off my bone or futz with it much at all to get a nice stable surface.
Using a saw and a file, I carved and cut several v-shaped grooves into the thickest part of the bone at an angle that I am guessing to be a good one for filing points onto pins.

Safety When Working with Bone
Note that I did not use power tools to work the bone. There’s a reason for this aside from my promise to prejudice my methods toward the Elizabethan: Bone dust isn’t something I want to line my lungs with. I’m not sure if we know the period methodology for working with bone beyond “Grab a knife sirrah, and go to with a will!” If I find something in my reading I’ll let you know.

I worked this bone wet, but if I wanted to something more refined and give it a proper finish, there would be a great deal of polishing in my future with progressively finer grits.  Thankfully, this is a tool that doesn’t require much refinement beyond what you see above.

When next we meet: Making the pin and the sad plight of the Pin Maker.

One comment

  1. […] I used a ‘make do’ bone. Also, I bleached it with hydrogen peroxide in the modern manner. Though I don’t really think the bone makes that big of a difference, it may have and I can’t discount it until I’ve tried this with a fresh, greasy, unbleached bone. Also, aesthetically it always bothered me that my pinner’s bone never looked like the ones we see in the museums. […]


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