Over the last year or so I’ve done quite a few do-it-yourself taxidermy videos, such as how to do European style mounts as well as other antler display projects. In this blog and video, I’ll be sharing with you some ideas for making your own antler plaques and/or display panels, whether for your taxidermy work or anything else you’d like to showcase around your house.
The first step in making a display panel is deciding on what kind of wood you’d like to make it out of. Now if you have something really big and heavy, like a set of elk or caribou antlers, then I’d recommend using a hardwood such as walnut or oak. If you’ll be displaying something smaller and lighter, like a set of deer antlers, then you can get by with softer woods such as maple and cedar. Buying brand new pieces of quality hardwood lumber at your local store can be very expensive. So if you’re looking for ways to cut costs, you might want to think about finding some wood you can salvage from other items, such as old furniture that people are trying to get rid of, or scrap wood leftover from some of your other projects, as I’m doing here with a couple of pieces of cedar.
After getting a decent piece of wood to work with, the next step is to decide on a shape for your panel. You can design your own custom shape, or simply trace it from another panel that you like, as I did here.
Next, depending on how thick the wood is, you may need to plane it down some to make it a bit thinner and flatter, as I had to do with these thick pieces of leftover cedar. You can use a routing sled to do this, which I’ve done a past video about, or you can use a power planer of one kind or another. I used the routing table on an old Shopsmith machine with a large, wide planing bit, which worked great. After getting the pieces of wood thinned out and leveled, I then cut them out roughly with a bandsaw. There were a few cracks and imperfections in the wood, so to remedy those areas I filled them with some wood filler I made from cedar sawdust and wood glue, and then later sanded it all down when it was dry.
Next, I shaped the outside of the panels with a drum sanding bit on my drill.
I thought I’d put a decorative edge on these panels, so the next step was to go around them with my router and then sand them down with some 200 grit sandpaper to get them ready to be finished.
You can stain, seal, and finish your panels however you wish, but for this project, I kept it very simple and just applied a few coats of satin finish polyurethane. When the polyurethane was good and dry, I attached a hanger on the back and later the deer skulls.
Check out the video below to see more…