Horn heating and shaping?

Discussion in 'The Craftsman' started by WVAED, Feb 18, 2018.

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  1. Feb 18, 2018 #1

    WVAED

    WVAED

    WVAED

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    Guys, I bought a horn today to work on for full size powder horn. The big end of the horn is more oval than round. Can it be heated with boiling water or something else to be able to round the shape out for a wooden plug? This is my first attempt at making my own horn, so i may have other questions as well. Thanks.
     
  2. Feb 18, 2018 #2

    buffcreekforge

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    I use lard to heat a horn. I bought a small deep fryer at Goodwill for a couple of dollars and bought 3 pounds of unsalted lard at a local bodega (Hispanic grocery store). I turn on the fryer, get the lard hot and dip the oval end of the horn in for 5-10 seconds at a time. Check to see if it is flexible, if not, dip in lard for another 5 seconds. When the horn gets pliable, jam a form in the end. Forms can be turned on a wood lathe as a tapered cone, a wooden baseball bat can be cut to the proper diameter, a clay flowerpot of the proper diameter works, anything that is a tapered cone will be fine. Let the horn cool, then trace the end of the horn, and cut out a wooden plug for the end. Use toothpicks, tree thorns, iron nails, brass tacks of your choice to hold the plug to the end of the horn. A couple of cautionary words - don't overheat the horn or it will become brittle - sneak up on the heat for pliability. Also, do this outside and DO NOT use SWMBO's deep fryer or you may be finishing the powder horn as a single man. Good luck! You will enjoy the process! Others may disagree, but this has been my experience. I remain your humble servant,

    Just Dave :bow:
     
  3. Feb 18, 2018 #3

    WVAED

    WVAED

    WVAED

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    Thanks Dave, sounds like a pretty straight forward process.
     
  4. Feb 18, 2018 #4

    S.Kenton

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    ive done it two different ways... Boiling water and heat gun. Just be careful with the heat gun, if ya hold it in on place to long it will burn the horn, which results in discoloration.many will advise against the heat gun, but I've used it for years with great results. Boiling water works alittle better. I've tried the lard method, it's probably the best, however when done you have a mess to clean up. I'd rather make horns than clean up lard. If the mood strikes me, I'll simply leave the horn the natural shape and make a plug to fit it.
     
  5. Feb 18, 2018 #5

    Rifleman1776

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    Not fer me. :shake: Never have been able to soften horn in boiling water. Just make a stink. :barf:
     
  6. Feb 18, 2018 #6

    Ames

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    The horned toad says we should go to Mexico.
    Nothing but boiling water over in this camp.
    Of course, the horn has to be round able to begin with. Or you can take a non rounding butt and make it into a symmetrical oval shape. Those can be cool.
    Flat horns need oil. That's another story.
     
  7. Feb 19, 2018 #7

    omarick1948

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    Well! I guess it's time for me to add my two cents worth. Unless your horn is very thin, 1/8" or less, all of the hot water in the world will not soften cow horn enough to force a full wooden rounding form into it and round cow/buffalo/any horn. Years ago, I tried boiling horns for hours and they would get a little springy, but barely.

    Why? Hot boiling water can only rise to a temperature of 212 degree's F . Thicker horn above 1/8 inch can only be properly rounded and heated in hot cooking oil/lard to around 325-350 degree's. This is the only way that I have rounded and flattened horns for many years and do almost everyday.

    Sorry, I am not calling anybody a liar, but my comment is from experience.

    Rick
     
  8. Feb 19, 2018 #8

    omarick1948

    omarick1948

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    Unless your horn is very thin, 1/8" or less, all of the hot water in the world will not soften cow horn

    Correction: Unless your horn is very thin, 1/8" or less in thickness boiling water sometime can be used for rounding the butt (big) end of a horn, but not always.
     
  9. Feb 19, 2018 #9

    MSW

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    My experience supports Rick. I tried the boiling water method with my first horn, only to come out with a very clean horn - well boiled and with just enough softness to be frustrating. As soon as it cooled, it returned to its original shape and, as though taunting me, steadfastly remained there. Then, following Horner75's advice, i got a 'fry daddy' (had to go to the local WalMart - nothing at flea markets came up) ... plonked down my hard earned, overtaxed, God- entrusted dollars and dropped by the local grocery store for some oil, which i'm still using. That was years ago- can't remember what the whole deal cost me, and i'm still using it, so i guess it was a good deal.

    I heat the oil to about 360 or 375 Farenheit - many will tell you to go with a lower temp, but that's what works for me. You can always start low and if it doesn't work, increase your temp.

    Some other notes:

    i do this outside (the smell isn't very appealing)
    wear heavy leather gloves which are loose enough so that you can snatch them off
    wear a long sleeve shirt closed toe shoes and long pants
    drill the hole for the plug before you shape the horn: you don't want to run the risk of trapping air in the horn
    position your frydaddy on a stable platform: you DON'T want this to tip over
    have the plug handy, so you can push it into the softened horn as soon as you can.


    also, watch out for what looks like a milky, spore like substance coming out of the horn. if you see this, get your horn out of the oil immediately - you're about to delaminate and ruin the horn.

    you can put the horn back into hot oil after you have partially shaped it, so if your first attempt doesn't really get you where you want to be, there's no sin in taking another pass at it.

    here's a link to the Sibley's book, Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn
    https://www.trackofthewolf.com/Categories/PartDetail.aspx/1330/1/BOOK-R18CPH

    the fun part about horns is that, once you get a modest set of tools together, you can make them at a very low cost.

    Good luck with your project!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2018
  10. Feb 19, 2018 #10

    Pete44ru

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    I just cut to the chase, and trace/shape by base plugs to the shape of the horn, less the thickness of the horn wall.

    For a good seal, I apply a thin coat of epoxy around the plug side before seating it; then peg it in place for esthetics after the epoxy cures.

    If I opt for a horn-filling port through the base plug, I do all that's required for that prior to the final seating of the plug with epoxy.
     
  11. Feb 19, 2018 #11

    WVAED

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    Thanks very much guys.
     
  12. Feb 19, 2018 #12

    pwbsmokey

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    I have a horn that is pretty close to being round. The thickness ranges from less than a 1/16th of an inch to just shy of 1/8th of an inch. Do you think I could get away with using boiling water or do I need oil?
     
  13. Feb 24, 2018 #13

    omarick1948

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    WOW! That's even pretty thin for a powder horn, but very hot boiling water might work out for that thin of horn. BE CAREFUL!
     
  14. Feb 25, 2018 #14

    pwbsmokey

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    Thanks for the reply. I bought the horn from Powder Horns and More. It is one of their polished horns. Not part of a kit, just the horn. If I remember right, the opening is only about 1/4" or so out of round, and it appears to be cut square. It seems like a very good quality horn. I think I paid around $20.00 for it.
     
  15. Feb 25, 2018 #15

    Black Hand

    Black Hand

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    I heated horns in the oven. Just don't walk away or answer the phone...
     
  16. Feb 25, 2018 #16

    pwbsmokey

    pwbsmokey

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    thanks
     
  17. Feb 25, 2018 #17

    Tinker2

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    Are you single? :nono:




    :rotf: :rotf:
    William Alexander
     
  18. Mar 6, 2018 #18

    rafterob

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    Yes, unless you just really want to have a nice symmetrically round plug. Shape the plug to the horn.
     

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