I am now in the final phases of restoring this very old White shark jaw, dating back to 09/09/1989, caught around Burrum Heads in Queensland. The shark was 3.9 metres long. The jaw has been with the original owner since, and I was contacted by them to repair and restore them as they had an unfortunate “encounter” with the family dog, who decided the taste of dried cartilage was pretty good after all. I received the jaw in May of this year, and after prolonged soaking, it had to be placed in the correct position for it to dry precisely, before starting the re-build. The jaw had a number of damaged areas that all had to be re-shaped and built up and deep cracks filled in. The right flange had to be completely re-built as a large section of it was missing. Another week of fine touch ups, and the jaw is ready to go back to the client.
Restorations of such pieces are very time consuming and complicated, as the cartilage ages quite badly and loses a lot of its moisture, rendering it very brittle. The jaw needs to be placed in a re-hydration bath which will allow the cartilage to regain a slight amount of suppleness, just enough for it to be put back into shape.
The client did not wish for the teeth to be replaced or moved, so they were left in their original state.
I have a very large mako jaws that I bought many years ago that I was wanting to reposition. It is in great condition but dark and dirty looking and was dried and set where it is only open about 4 inches. I was wanting to open it wide and whiten it. What type of solution do you soak it in to soften it up to reposition it open? How long do I soak it? How do I whiten it? What do I use to hold it in the position I want while it dries? Also, what things should I avoid that may ruin it? Thank you in advance.
Thank you for the message.
The easiest thing is to use hydrogen peroxide at around 6% solution and soak the jaw in cold water for around 5-6 hrs, or until you believe it is white enough Then rinse it under cold water, and position it open using wooden stakes. Makes sure the jaw is positioned properly and you immobilise it whilst drying, otherwise it will move during drying. Take your time, and if it warps during drying, then remove it from the board and re-soak it in cold water to make it soft and supple again.
Simon De Marchi