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How To: Adjust For a Missing Skullplate

In a recent blog I added more turn to a mule deer form.  As you might have noticed the antlers were attached to the form as I did the alteration.  I felt this would be best in order to better observe how the finished mount might look.  But as I attempted to set the antlers a whole new problem arose.  So I thought it might be good to step backwards and show what I encountered and the fairly easy fix, should you ever come up with a similar situation.

As I attempted to set the antlers on the form I realized that there was a lot of skull missing and in addition the skull was cut very unevenly. The form notch was deeper than how the skull had been cut leaving a 1/2″ to 3/4″ gap when the antlers were held in the proper position.

To fix the problem, check out the following…  first I set the antlers on the form and drew around the skull with a marker.  I then put four screws just inside the marks so that the screw heads would line up with the skull:

I like screws rather than shims as the screws are solid and so easy to adjust!  You can make them fit any irregular skull just by turning them in or out.  You can see in the following photos just how irregular the skull surface really was.When all 4 screws are adjusted and touching the skull,  and the antlers are exactly where you want them, put a mark in the front (see below) to make sure that when you Bondo the antlers in place that the skull does not move out of position or mis-align.  Remove the skull and pre-drill holes through the skull plate for future anchor screws, as you would with any mount.

Now, you have but one simple question to ask…  is the mount to be assembled using a long cut cape, or a short cut cape?

For a long cut cape, you can at this point add a thick layer of Bondo around the screws until they are completely covered, fill the inside of the skull plate with Bondo as well, and set the skull back in place on top of the screws.  Make sure the skull lines up with the front mark, and that’s it. When the Bondo hardens, you are now ready to finish up with several screws down though the top of the skull into the head block to anchor it all in place, again, just as you normally would.  You can now proceed with the mount just as if there had been no skull missing at all.

 

But, what if you are mounting with a short cut cape, as is so common today?  If that is the case, you cannot attach the skull plate solidly as I just explained because the antlers must, of course, be removable .  Not to worry.  For a “short cut” mount, do everything the same as above to adjust the position of the 4 screws to get the skull where you want it.  But then,  instead of permanently fastening the skull to the form with Bondo, set the antlers aside and proceed as follows:

First cover the screws on the head block with Bondo, and when the Bondo begins to harden, trim the excess Bondo so that you can see the tops of all the screws. The two pictures below show how this should look.

When the Bondo has hardened, lay a piece of saran wrap over the skull plate area of the form as pictured below.

Fill the inside of the skull with Bondo… 

…and set it back in place over top of the saran wrap…

Again making sure it aligns with the mark on top of the skull…

When the Bondo hardens, simply lift the skull plate back off of the form…

Pull off the saran wrap…

And now your “new” skull plate will fit back perfectly in place, yet, is removable…

As a last step, set the antler in place and install screws down into the headblock to make sure all is good.  Then remove the screws (now the holes are pre-drilled so it will go back together easily during the mounting process), remove the antlers once again and proceed with the mount.

This system is solid and really works!

 

 

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