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Best Wood Stain For Antlers: Guide On Finishing Your Head-Piece


“I wish my dead deer’s antlers looked more lively.” If you’ve uttered this ironic phrase to yourself, then you’ve come to the right place.

Deer Antlers, are comprised of high-density bones, more precisely Phosphorous and Calcium. With time, deer-antlers become pale and lose their color. 

For the sake of your room’s aesthetic, you must color them. Otherwise, you risk your house looking like a cemetery for hooved ruminants.

But that is easier said than done.

There are a lot of DIY and vague posts about how to stain your antlers. But we have found an elegant solution to the problem- wood stains.

So how do you get your hands on the best wood stain for antlers? If that’s the question your mind stopped at, look no further. 

Our post on the best stain for antlers revolves around a top 5 list. We’ve even added a treasure trove of tips on how to make your bones look less pale.

So without further ado, let’s get to revitalizing your dead deer!

Comparison Table

Verathane’s Premium Fast-Dry Wood Finish

Let’s start with the best of the best, shall we? The Verathane Premium Fast-Drying Wood Finish is regarded as the best by our team. So what makes this finish the champ?

Why don’t we find out the features that earned it the top spot?

When it comes to deer antlers, the lighter the stain the better. The Verathane Premium is the lightest stain of the bunch. Applying this stain will end with your antlers looking more lively than ever.

This is due to Verathane’s clear finish style. But don’t make this clear to finish to be white. It has a unique early American brown color which complements the deer antler’s natural color perfectly.

Moreover, the Verathane is extremely easy to use, which makes it perfect for beginners. The Verathane takes around 60 minutes to dry off completely which is 3 times faster than others! This is one of the most attractive qualities of the Verathane.

The Verathane also covers 75% more surface area with one coat than most others. It covers about 70 square feet of surface in one go. This makes it one of the most efficient finishes on the list.

It is recommended that you use a brush or lint-free cloth to apply the finish. The recommended temperature range for the finish is between 60-90 degrees Fareheight.


  • Excellent restoration capabilities.
  • Provides the lightest finish.
  • Good Durability.


  • Sometimes leave a grey overtone.

Minwax’s Stain Marker For Wood

In second place we have an interesting candidate. We’re not going to lie to you, this is the oddball of the list. And it’s none other than Minwax’s Stain Marker, that’s right, it’s a marker, not a paint.

So why does this magic marker rank so high on our list? Well, let’s look at its attributes.

For starters, the Stain Marker is the most versatile Finish on the list. This is due to how it’s designed. It’s much like a chapstick that you apply over your cracked lips.

But in this case, your lips are the deer’s antlers and the chapstick is the Minwax stain marker. This makes it ideal for those branching cracks on the deer antlers. This will fill those cracks up in a jiffy.

Moreover, the Minwax stain marker requires no brush or cloth for its application. It’s also the easiest to use of the bunch because of this. It’s the perfect tool you can use to treat nicks and scratches.

However, if the scratches and blemishes are too deep on the antlers, then there might be issues. If it’s too deep the Stain Marker might not be able to completely mask it.

If you want a darker application then you have to keep on applying coats of it. The Marker works by using layers. So the more lair it has, the darker its color will be. It’s also deceptively durable and long-lasting. 

The Stain marker is also in our opinion one of the more aesthetically pleasing stains. This is due to the cherry shade that it provides.


  • Accentuate the Antlers very well.
  • Easiest to use.
  • Restores antlers pretty well.
  • Excellent durability and longevity. 


  • The Top Dries out too fast.
  • Cannot cover big and deep scratches.

Minwax’s PolyShades Wood Stain with Polyurethane Finish

The Minwax’s PolyShades Honey Shaded Wood stain with Polyurethane Finish takes third place on our list. This brings an end to the top 3 best finishes for deer antlers. 

You can probably tell by now Minwax makes quite the stains. Since 2 of the contenders on our list are of the Minwax brand, you know they’re a quality brand. The PolyShades is no different either.

But this Stain is quite the special one. The Minwax Polyshades is not just a stain, it is also a polyurethane coating too! So what does this entail?

The Minwax’s PolyShades Honey Shaded Wood stain with Polyurethane Finish takes third place on our list. This brings an end to the top 3 best finishes for deer antlers. 

You can probably tell by now Minwax makes quite the stains. Since 2 of the contenders on our list are of the Minwax brand, you know they’re a quality brand. The PolyShades is no different either.

But this Stain is quite the special one. The Minwax Polyshades is not just a stain, it is also a polyurethane coating too! So what does this entail?

This means that you don’t have to add another layer of the Polyurethane finish. It is after applying the wood stain. The Polyurethane layer acts as a protective barrier that protects the wood, or in this case deer-antlers. 

One additional benefit of the PolyShades is that you can change the color tone of your antler. You could directly paint over the pre-existing coat. This will change the color to a darker tone.

However, the PolyShades require constant care. Otherwise, the color is reported to fade rather quickly


  • Excellent durability.
  • No need to apply a Polyeurathene layer for extra protection.
  • Easy to apply.


  • Needs to be sanded in between coats
  • Requires lots of recoats

FurnitureClinic’s Boiled Linseed Oil Finish For Wood

Next on our list, we have an unfamiliar name, FurnitureClinic’s Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO). You can already tell by the brand’s name that it’ll be worth its weight in gold. 

So why is fourth on our list? Let’s find out

The FurnitureClinic lives up to its name. This is because it has all of the characteristics of boiled linseed oil. This includes an excellent rejuvenating style of finish and rapid drying time.

But don’t take our word for it!

The Good Housekeeping Institute was founded in 1909. It has given it its stamp of approval regarding the matter. And this isn’t based on a random Reddit post on the internet. This BLO was tested by scientists all of whom can attest to its quality.

Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) from The Furniture Clinic is an outstanding oil that gives a deep dark brown hue. This makes it perfect for your white deer bone.

The FurnitureClinic is also pretty durable. Once dry, the FurnitureClinic BLO develops a durable layer around the wood that hardly peels off.


  • Excellent rejuvenating capabilities.
  • Excellent Durability.
  • Doesn’t allow for scratches.


  • Isn’t temperature safe and the oil might bleed.
  • Unpleasant smell.

Minwax’s Premium Penetrating Wood-Finish Oil

Last but not least, we have a familiar brand, Minwax’s Premium Penetrating Oil. Now you could easily write it off as being the least attractive choice on the least. Usually, you’d be right, but this time you shouldn’t. 

The Minwax’s Premium Penetrating Wood-Finish Oil is the best oil finish of the bunch. This is because it uses a premium oil-based base. So quality-wise they aren’t cutting any corners.

This is reflected by their deep-brown espresso color. This color also stays for a long time. All you have to do is wipe it for 5-15 minutes and voila! You end up with a deep, rich espresso color.

As its name suggests it’s the best when it comes to its penetrating abilities. No pore will remain untouched!

However, it does take longer to dry as a result of this. The Premium takes around two solid hours to dry off completely. That too in optimal temperatures and humidity.


  • Premium quality oil.
  • Has decent durability.
  • Penetrates any surface within 5-15 minutes.


  • The Amount of Stain is less.
  • Takes a lot of time to dry.

Things You Need to Consider Before Getting a Wood Stain

This section is dedicated to the more creative minds of the audience. Using wood stains is an unorthodox way of staining antlers. This is why it’s imperative you know the know-how on wood stains.

Knowing the details of what you do is always a plus point. There is never a punishment for doing extra homework. This applies not only to your deer mounts but in life too!

So, with that being said, let’s get to the grimy details-

Types Of Finish Of Stains

Now, in the above section, you’ve probably seen that there are different types of finishes available. Now all of these are a bit different in terms of durability, ease of use, and drying time.

Now all of these stains have a base type. But there are two different bases- Oil, and Varnish. Now let’s look at these more carefully.


Firstly we have the oil-based finish which mainly consists of tung or boiled linseed oil. Oil finishes tend to penetrate deep into the surface of what is applied. This means if the surface is porous then the better it is.

This means that for your deer antlers, it is a perfect choice. Since their bones have microscopic cracks in them, the oil fills those pores up. These type of finishes dries up solid.

Moreover, they also take longer to dry compared to water-based stains. Oil-based stains take around 8 to 24 hours to dry off completely in the initial coat.


Next, we have water-based substitutes for deer antlers. So if you’re looking for finishes that don’t require touch-ups, this is the one for you.

Moreover, they aren’t the aesthetically pleasing of the two. Unless you’re extremely skilled at applying it, water-based ones leave streaks behind. You might end up with uneven streak marks.

But if you’ve nailed the process of applying water-based stains then you don’t have to worry about a thing. These last longer and also dry quicker!

Water-based stains dry in mere hours. Most brands dry within 1-2 hours of applying it on a surface. This means that if you’re looking for a quick fix, this is the one for you.

Ease of Use

Oil-based stains are easier to apply and are more user-friendly as a result. Moreover, the oil-based stains provide even finishes and are not prone to streaks.

As for ease of use, water-based stains are harder to apply. This is because they don’t stick to the pores on a surface. Water-based stains are more susceptible to peeling off than oil-based ones.


Oil-based finishes don’t last that long. This means you have to reapply coats of it time and time again. So in cases of durability Oil-based finishes don’t edge water-based finishes.

On the other hand, water-based finishes are more durable. This is because water-based stains aren’t food sources for microbes and often come with UV protection.



Question: Is it wise to use Borax to clean deer skulls?

Answer: Yes, one of the most efficient ways of cleaning a deer’s skull. Applying some borax is the easiest way to preserve deer antler skull caps. Remember to allow it to dry completely. In most circumstances, this is sufficient enough to last a lifetime.

Question: What do I use to seal moose antlers?

Answer: You can use Beeswax to seal moose antlers. Work the beeswax into the microscopic grooves and crevices of the moose antlers with an old toothbrush. Beeswax will not only seal the antlers and protect them from further damage. But it will also restore their original color and brilliance.

Question: How do I make my antlers more white?

Answer: The ideal method is to make a paste with 40 volumes of peroxide and basic white powder. After making the paste rub it on the antlers. After it sets, it should probably be bleached pure white.


Well, that’s about all the info we could gather regarding wood stains for deer antlers. We sincerely hope that you found our post on the best wood stain for antlers to be a worthwhile read.

However, if you’re feeling indecisive, choose the number one contender on the list. After all, it was decreed as the best wood stain for your antlers by our research team. So it would be wise to pay heed to the hours of labor that they’ve spent picking this one.

Anyways, we’re confident that you’ll choose the right stain for your antlers. After all, you’re the best judge of character for what you need.

And as always, stay safe and take care!

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