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Rounding difficult powder horns

 
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bingothehutt
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Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:21 pm    Post subject: Rounding difficult powder horns Reply with quote

Here's a question for all you horn makers. If you have a pretty oval based horn you want to turn into a powder horn, how far should you go to try to make it round? Should I be happy with more-or-less-round to a-little-less-oval, or should I push it to almost round? I'm new to horn making, and I want to know how easy they are to split while they're being rounded. I don't mind a not perfect base. I'm going for something in the neighborhood of an "early ugly", but want it to look alright at the same time.

Thanks again guys!

Justin
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rick tull
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Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:37 pm    Post subject: Horns Reply with quote

Hi It depends on the horn thickness and type how far you can go when rounding. If its a thin walled one, it is easier. Beef cattle horns are generally more brittle, and harder to work. If it softens fairly quickly, you won't have many problems as a rule. If its heated too much, It may become too dry, which is not good for the longevity of the finished horn. Picking good horns to start with is the most important thing for success! Hope this is some help-Good luck, Rick
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Yaquina143
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Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would suggest the following...

Find something round and tapered that can almost fit into the base of the horn as is. I use a cut off piece of an old baseball bat.

Boil the base of the horn in water for 15 minutes, you only need to submerge about half of the horn from the base, not the whole thing.

After it has boiled for a bit, carefully take it out of the water (wearing leather gloves in a good idea) and gently press it down on the form. The horn should be quite soft and should form around the glass easily. You only need to get the first quarter inch or so onto the form, no need to shove.

Let the horn cool in place and once it is cool to the touch, it should pop off the form and the end will be perfectly round.

Good luck!
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R. Blanchard
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Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 18
Location: Northern Illinois
Real Name: Robert Blanchard

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 12:32 am    Post subject: horn work Reply with quote

I never had much luck with boiling water and horns myself. I am probably too impatient. What I would suggest is to start watching the garage sales for a fry baby. You know, one of those inexpensive little deep fryers. Toss in a couple of pounds of lard and fire it up. If you have a thermometer your shooting for around 220 degrees. Please note with caution that the lard is entirely quick and hot. Proceed at your own risk as this is just as dangerous as any deep frying whether it's french fries or horns. Keep all critters, kids and distractions away. IN CASE YOU HAVENT ALREADY FIGURED IT OUT THIS DEEP FRYER AND LARD WILL HENCE FORTH BE EXCLUSIVELY FOR HORNS. Gently submerge your (completely dry) horn or portion there of to be shaped. Don't let it rest on the bottom. Let it come up to temperature (220 degrees) and it can start to look like an Alkaseltzer, kinda fizzy. If you over heat it, it can change color, get blisters and even delaminate so take it easy. If the horn is thin and the lard up to temperature it only takes a minute or so. Experiment on how long to leave it in to achieve the proper level of flexibility. When you think it's there carefully lift it from the hot lard let it drain a bit then press it onto the form. Be sure to wear thick gloves when handling the hot horn. It shouldn't take an excessive amount of force. I put my forms in the vise so I can lean on the horn a bit if needed. Then leave it be until it has completely cooled to room temperature, not even a little warm. This allows the horn to take a permanent set. Give it a tap with a rawhide mallet to pop it loose if needed. It be shaped! If you don't like the shape put it back in the hot lard and generally they return to their original shape as well as get soft again. The hot lard helps condition the horn as well , especially the buffalo horns which can soak up a lot. I have used this method to shape and or flatten over fifty horns and so far its served me well. Sorry to be so windy but that's one more way of doing it.
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Capt Mike
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Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 5:09 am    Post subject: shaping Reply with quote

I use a hot air 'heat' gun,,,but a hi watt hair dryer will do....just put the small end of the horn down in a coffee can/bucket/kettle,,anything,,,that will put the butt upwards. Heat around and the edges of the open base from the outside and inside till the horn is pliable. Using leather gloves,,,put your 'sizer/rounder' into the plug. Let it cool

You have round base.

Water will only get so hot,,,and its not hot enough to take the memory out of the fibers of the horn. After you soften it with water, round it,,,and removed your sizer,,a water soften horn still has some 'memory' left and will not stay perfectly round. With a heat gun, you get it hotter, eraser the 'memory', and it stays round if perhaps you need to work more on the horn after you remove your sizer.

Iv not tried the fry baby with hot grease,,but I'm SURE would work good also. The fry baby would exceed water temps,,and thus remove 'memory' from the horn.

I just use a heat gun,,bascially,,,,because I happen to have one.

If you need any more assistance feel free to message me sir.

Capt Mike
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bingothehutt
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Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:22 am    Post subject: thanks Reply with quote

Thanks, guys for all the good advice. I looked at Lowes, and they have a cheap hot air gun that I'll get, and since I was planning on boiling it anyway before putting it onto the shaper, I'll just do both! haha.

This thing has fairly thick walls at the base, and has all sorts of "ridges" toward the bottom on the inside, so I wasn't sure how much trouble it was going to be to shape. Thanks. I'll give these ideas a try!
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Rich Pierce
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Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 218
Location: St. Louis, MO
Real Name: Richard Pierce

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

File out those inside ridges and make sure your form goes deep enough so you are not just shaping the opening, but get a smooth shaping of the whole big end of the horn. Otherwise you have a round ring end of an oval horn and it looks weird.
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Jim H
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Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 11
Location: Andalusia, Alabama
Real Name: Jim Hallford

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All of the above suggestions are really good ones. Another thought, depending on just how "oval" the horn is. Sometimes it's easier to make a fine flat horn out of a severe oval than to reshape it. Like I said, just a thought. Another thought is that to clean the inside, ( I like to take them down pretty thin, sometimes translucent) a cylinder hone works wonders on a hand held drill. Looks like a "pom-pom" on a stick but does a fine job.
Edit...had an email question as to what type of hone that is. I believe it's called a "ball hone" and is available at parts houses.

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Michael Archer
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Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 290
Location: West of Fort Pitt
Real Name: Curt Schmidt

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How d' ye!

Just an aside...
It can depend upon how far the horn is ovoid.
Meaning, sometimes one can end up putting a round base section on a horn body that is oval from "there on up..."

When sorting through potential horns, I try to select the horn that best meets my "pre-conceived" notion or vision of what I can get out of it.
(Sometimes it works, sometimes, well....) ;-) :-)

Michael Archer

(I have three or four lathe-turned tapered walnut "base former" plugs of differnt diameters, about 4-6 inches long that help. Previously I used heavy plastic "patio or ice tea" glasses from the Dollar Store....)
And I have sometimes boiled horns all day and not gotten beyond the hardness I had a few minutes into the process... ;-) :-) )

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Michael Archer
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Mike/MO
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Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 106
Location: East Central Missouri
Real Name: Michael Petersmeyer

PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One other thing to consider is the odor when boiling a horn han be pretty intense. This is one of those activities to do outside where there is plenty of ventilation or this may be just a one-time activity.
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Michael Archer
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Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 290
Location: West of Fort Pitt
Real Name: Curt Schmidt

PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How d' ye!

Indeed.
Wives, Significant Others, and Insignificant Others may not appreciate what hornwork can do in a kitchen... or to an apartment or house.
:-)

Michael Archer
Eau du Horn Cologne

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Michael Archer
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