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Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Michelle Steevens, Jul 21, 2022.

  1. Michelle Steevens

    Michelle Steevens New Member

    My friend sent me all his African skulls. What is the best way to get the horns off? Also there's a water Buffalo I know you can't get the horns off of that so how do I decrease it? My guess is it's not OK to put horns in the degreesing tank. I'm guessing to whiten the skull use the paste peroxide? There's a hippo in there and I know it will take months in the degreasing tank but does anybody have any pointers for me? And what on Earth would I charge for that?
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Good lord, you're starting out with some of the toughest things to work on. African stuff has been boiled to death before you even get it. Any grease is going to be cooked into the bone pretty deep. Try whitening them all first and see what you are working with. Buffalo with paste so the horns are not damaged any further than what they might be already. Look up hippo skull in this section as there is at least one that was done. It took many months and came out ok. You are going to have to find something big enough to submerge it in and maybe use 50/50 ammonia with maybe some Dawn added. I don't remember what the fellow ended up using. The other ones with horns you might get them off if you soak them in warm water for a few days and see if they loosen with a few raps of a rubber mallet. I don't think they take the horns off when they are cooking them and they will be dried on pretty good by now.

    Charge? Need to cover your time and materials as well as loss of your shop space for other projects for a long while. When you get the skulls, have your friend there when you unpack them (unless he is bringing them to you himself). Examine all of them completely and photograph them and any damage you see. Use good light and focus clearly. Document any damage and grease before you even touch them. Especially look for brittle, soft and flaking bone which means you might not even risk working on that particular specimen other than sealing and stabilizing it after whitening. Boiling destroys the bone structure and even more so when done for too long. Look into a product called paraloid B 72 and look for posts about it on here. If there are skulls that are disintegrating, this will stop it and prevent further damage as well as protect the skull and seal it.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2022

  3. steve torna

    steve torna New Member

    Hello from Montana,
    If these skulls represent a prized collection, why not just contact a professional skull preparer who has experience. I can't imagine "practicing" on these skulls. Just help your friend find the best preparer in the area who can handle the task. Here in Montana, there are several very reputable, experienced and skilled skull preparers. In any case good luck.
    Best Steve
  4. Michelle Steevens

    Michelle Steevens New Member


    Awesome that Is great advice Just what I needed to know thank you so much.