The following are some pictures of a powderhorn that I am working on.
This page like the horn is a work in progess.

Now I'll be the first (and probably not the last either) to say that I am not a horn maker by any stretch
of the imagination.  I do projects like this for fun and to try out techniques that I have learned from other
folks who are far better at this that I will ever be.

Enough with the banter and on with the show.  (As always you can click on the picture to see it full sized.)

I picked up a raw horn at this year's Dixon's 
Gunbuilder's Fair. As you can see, raw is an 
understatement.  And the brown stuff wasn't 
mud either!
Well after some washing and some scraping
I got this far. I used a regular cabinet scraper blade
to start working it down. There it sat for a few months
(got to let things mellow a bit..yeah right)
The next step was to trim the end and the tip for the 
spout. I had decided to try making this into what is 
called a lipped horn. That piece on the front will get
prettied up a bit and then 2 holes drilled in it for
attaching the strap.  I also did more scraping, then a
sanding with 100 grit sand paper to even things out a
bit, then another scraping.  As you can see the color
of the horn is starting to come through.
The next step was to drill the spout and start working
on the spout treatment.  Now spout drilling can be quite
traumatic.  Lot of horns get ruined during this phase. 
Since there was a bit of a light core showing, I first used
a tool called a brad awl to go through the core then
followed up with a gimlet. Now I did make a wee 
mistake in gauging the depth of the cavity of the horn
and normally you want the full length of the spout
to be solid. Well this one is about 1/2 way before
hitting the cavity. Not fatal but it does require a bit of
caution in shaping the spout end.  The spout hole will
need to get opened up a little more (3/16" or so).

The decorative work on the left side of the spout area was done by drilling a series of holes (again using a brad awl)
lightly into the surface of the horn, then a light saw cut was made through the center (more or less, the line wasn't
exactly straight) and another saw cut was made to mark the spout end.  Using a pocketknife I carefully carved out
out the excess.  Then worked it down with a rasp and a file.  I started shaping the spout a little as well.  Depending
on how adventurous I'm feeling, I might get a little fancy with that as well.

Now the lip has been cleaned up a bit and the spout
enlarged and worked (rasp & file) into a hex shape.
Plus there has been a lot of overall cleanup.  The
main area was scraped, then sanded (100 grit then
400 grit).  Lot of folks don't like sanding a horn 
but I find especially with the 400 grit that the dust
highlights a lot of the flaws, original and work
induced like rasp marks and scraper nicks.  Those
areas were worked with a file and or scraper, then
the horn was washed and scraped again.
This is a shot of the back side of the horn still
at the same stage.  I have also been sanding
down the inside of the horn.  Normally you
don't worry about doing that, however this
horn has a bunch of ridges on the inside. I
just want to get a reasonably smooth surface
so that the plug will seat and seal tight.

The next step will be to heat the end of the horn and use a tapered round piece of wood called a
sizer to get the end, well round.  Gonna have to figure a way do that at the house without
getting killed (horn does have a bit of an odor when heated).  The end is also a little uneven
and will need some trimming to get it nice and straight, but I'll be doing that after sizing it.
Well while waiting for some time to get that step done on the horn I decided to make the horn
tip into a powder measure.

The first thing I did here was to drill a hole in
the center (well almost). Then I widened the hole
using a variety of brace tools (bigger bit, reamers)
and even the tip of a wide turnscrew blade was
called in for duty as a scraper.   
The outside was scraped like the horn itself was,
then a couple of light cuts with the saw were made
around the tip. The end of the tip was carved
flat (or almost). 

This is the finished measure.  The cuts were rounded
over with a file, as well as the outer and inner edges of
the filling end.  The measure was wet sanded with 400
grit paper, then given a last scraping (the detail
scraping was done with a pocketknife blade).  The
hole for the leather thong was drilled with a brad
awl, then widened using a needle file and the edges
dressed down.  Finally it was giving a coat of paste wax
and here it is.  

Now back to the horn (hopefully) this week.

Stay tuned!

Last updated 12/27/2005

Return to the Accoutrements Page