Whether you are a hunting enthusiast or you just like to repurpose offbeat, secondhand finds, deer antler chandeliers add rustic charm to your home. There's no need to fork out big bucks for them if you can source a set of suitable antlers and are willing to delve into a little DIY.
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Gather Your Materials
Of course, you're going to need some antlers. If you or someone you know is a hunter, you may have ready access to some. Otherwise, trawl secondhand stores or look online to see what you can find. If you're opposed to hunting on ethical grounds, it's good to know that deer naturally shed antlers every year, so killing an animal isn't necessary to obtain real antlers. If you can't or don't want to use real antlers, you can use fake antlers for a chandelier. Make sure they're made from a sturdy yet hollow material so wire can go through them.
Along with the antlers, you'll need a chandelier base. A premade chandelier base from a lighting store, home improvement store, or hardware store is an easy option, or you can look for something secondhand. If your chandelier base is too decorative for your taste, you can remove the trimmings and simply construct your antlers around the most important structural supports. You'll also need a drill and some thin screws and nails in varying lengths.
Prepping the Antlers
If you've chosen to use natural antlers, you may find they're rather brown and discolored. Instead of whitening them with harsh chemical bleaches, give them a scrub with some water and detergent and then spray them with a primer and sealer. This will give them a bright finish. If that's a bit too white for you, a light coat of wood stain adds a nice, natural touch.
Fake antlers probably won't need to be cleaned to the same degree, but you could still spray them your preferred color.
Assemble and Hang the Chandelier
Before you break out the drill, arrange the antlers in a pleasing configuration on the floor or a table so you can see how each piece fits together. If it helps, you could even do a rough sketch on paper. Fixing the antlers together and around the chandelier base with cable ties can also be a good way to get everything in place before you permanently secure everything.
Next, drill holes into the parts of the antler you want to secure to the chandelier base. Drill a thin pilot hole first and then go back through the same hole with a wider drill bit. Insert screws of the appropriate length into these holes and tighten so the antlers are firmly fixed to the chandelier base. Once the foundations are secure, you'll need to join together any overlapping antlers so they don't shift. Drill some thin holes and then hammer thin nails into them.
The screwing, nailing, and drilling may have left your antlers with visible screw and nail holes. You can touch these up with epoxy filler and then paint over them so these joins aren't visible.
The final step is to hang your handiwork. This is where using a premade chandelier base is important because it will be ready to install on your ceiling without you having to mess around with the electrical parts.
Important Safety Tip
The National Electrical Code requires all light fixtures to be listed by an organization like the UL or the ETL to ensure they are safe. Lighting inspectors cannot pass DIY light fixture jobs unless they are listed as assemblies. This is another reason building your antler chandelier around an existing, commercially made chandelier base is a good idea.