Author Topic: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?  (Read 854 times)

Offline Frozen Run

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Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« on: March 21, 2021, 03:03:08 AM »
I have this oldish and really gnarly raw horn that I want to turn into a minimalist powder horn, pine plug, drill the spout and voila. It looks really cool as is and it also looks like it has shuffled around in boxes long enough to be relatively smooth to the touch. Were original powder horns ever left in the raw and if so are there any downsides or problems that could result from it? Thank you.

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2021, 04:40:44 AM »
Thinning a horn makes a lot of sense and I canít imagine making a horn and not getting the bark off and saving some weight. Iíve owned a few that had a rough scraped finish.

The horns we commonly get now from suppliers who know the horns are going to be made into powder horns or other cool horn things are de-barked and often thinned more than I like at the opening. They donít come like that off the carcass.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2021, 11:36:47 AM »
 Got a Pix?

   Tim C.

Offline MuskratMike

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2021, 05:58:57 PM »
If you want a rougher look than polished tan just scraped will work. it will give you that "hill country" look for a SMR. here is an example.







"Muskrat" Mike McGuire
Keep your eyes on the skyline, your flint sharp and powder dry.

Offline Elnathan

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2021, 08:09:29 PM »
My family owns a small antique horn, probably from the Appalachians, that is finished pretty rough and except that it has no tacks looks very much like Muskrat Mike's example above - it was scraped smooth to the touch but not enough to eliminate the rasp marks that cover it nor the cut marks from the knife used to shape the tip. It is rippled from the scraper, too. However, it was thinned down considerably - not much more than 1/16" thick around the spout hole or the majority of the body (beetle holes allow me to see the thickness in the center), and thinning down to 1/32 or a hair less at the base. Tapered spout hole, too, incidentally. It is a pretty good example of a horn that had a good bit of thoughtful work to make it functional but little effort towards aesthetics (though, the tip is cut cock-eyed to the centerline of the horn in such a way as to accentuate the twist, and I wonder if that was done intentionally....)

The downside to leaving horn with the bark on is going to be really thick walls, no rings or raised to to keep your strap on (guess you could use a incised groove), and a thick, perhaps very thick, spout area, which will make pouring powder into a measure without spilling rather difficult. Might look interesting, but I doubt you will be happy with how it works.
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Offline bbhf

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2021, 08:36:35 PM »
here is a smooth horn and couple with marks: skip












ibew 26


skip

Offline Frozen Run

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2021, 08:08:36 AM »
Thank you for everyone's feedback here, I've decided based on the advice given to go for a rough scraped look. I'll experiment by doing all the scraping with a trade knife instead of my scrapers to give it a certain look.

Tim: Yes, I can get you some pictures, I plan on using this thread to document my project. I'll take a picture of the raw horn and at various stages of completion. Right now I'm moving my workshop though so I can't start it until that's done.

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2021, 03:25:14 PM »
Thank you for everyone's feedback here, I've decided based on the advice given to go for a rough scraped look. I'll experiment by doing all the scraping with a trade knife instead of my scrapers to give it a certain look.

Tim: Yes, I can get you some pictures, I plan on using this thread to document my project. I'll take a picture of the raw horn and at various stages of completion. Right now I'm moving my workshop though so I can't start it until that's done.

 Thanks, look forward to seeing the progress.

   Tim

Offline Cory Joe Stewart

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2021, 04:56:44 PM »
There are a couple of horns in Madison Grant's book that were not scraped completely smooth, in fact there is one in the book covered in heavy rasps marks. 

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Offline Collector

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2021, 04:57:19 AM »
These from a previous post of a large 18th C. supply horn I have.

https://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=62057.0


You can practically visualize a guy sitting on a stool, with this horn in his lap, scraping first toward the throat with longer strokes as the horn is thinner and less resistant in that area and then reversing it to scrape toward the mouth.  I call them 'chatter marks', but clearly they are from a knife of some type being dug in a short stroked repeatedly from the mid point of the horn to the mouth, where the horn is thickest.  Reasonably smooth, but by no means polished.

If you want your horn to look like that, you have to do it the same way they did.

Good luck!

 






Offline Frozen Run

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2021, 08:31:14 AM »
You can practically visualize a guy sitting on a stool, with this horn in his lap, scraping first toward the throat with longer strokes as the horn is thinner and less resistant in that area and then reversing it to scrape toward the mouth.

Hey, that's a great tip, thank you!

I had read your original posting on the horn and found the observation you made about the three shallow holes intriguing. It makes you wonder that sometimes things are done for no particular reason or maybe just in the spur of the moment without giving too much thought into it. I think I'll try to implement that concept into my project. This "minimalist horn" idea I had is really getting more and more elaborate. This should be a fun little diversion.

I also noticed how the tip looks very polished, almost glass like, and just realized it was from years of grabbing it there, pulling the stopper out and jamming it back in. All that friction from the hand. How do you achieve that very polished look? I always see those polished horns that are sold for various projects and they look almost plastic they are so polished? Thank you again. 
« Last Edit: March 24, 2021, 08:51:10 AM by Frozen Run »

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2021, 03:21:11 PM »
 You can take a piece of antler and burnish a horn it will give it a nice finish. I tried a glass bottle once but that made it to shinny.

   Tim

Offline Not English

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2021, 06:57:22 AM »
Frozenrun, why ruin a good knife! Scrapers can be made out of many different things. Metal samples from tool and die salesmen make really great scrapers. The backside of a hacksaw blade also works well. Basically anything that will hold a burr or a square edge will work. If you're into custom wood work, any wood scraper used for finishing will work. A very good gunsmith friend makes scrapers out of tool and die samples that he grinds to match a particular rifle forestock profile fore shaping the forestock. Bottom line is that you can adapt/fabricate a scraper to do  pretty much anything you want.

Offline pilot

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2021, 03:13:23 AM »
Sixty years ago when I was a kid, my great uncle taught me to scrape a horn with a piece of broken glass.  When it got dull, grab another.  We weren't making powder horns, we were making dog calling horns.  Pretty much the same thing, though.

« Last Edit: April 13, 2021, 03:22:06 AM by pilot »

Offline Frozen Run

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2021, 10:48:27 AM »
Sorry for not responding sooner, I sort of lost track of this thread, it's easy to get lost on this forum chasing down different topics and learning different things...

Frozenrun, why ruin a good knife!


I want to give it a rustic look so I'd figure I would experiment by scraping it with a knife, holding it in my hand and scraping one direction with it and then flipping the horn around and scraping the other direction. Scrapers are one of my favorite tools, I'm sure the experienced horners here could emulate the look I am going for vised up with scrapers, but I'm not there yet. 



« Last Edit: April 13, 2021, 10:55:47 AM by Frozen Run »

Offline Frozen Run

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2021, 12:40:05 PM »
we were making dog calling horns. 

That's an interesting story, thank you for sharing, I've never heard of a dog calling horn before. It sounds practical though, if you had a bunch of dogs you wanted to call in at once or just wanted to save your vocal cords from all the shouting?

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2021, 03:32:28 PM »
I have original horns with chatter marks in the scraping. Seems on many plain horns they were going for overall shaping and thinning, not a furniture quality finish.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline pilot

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2021, 04:04:43 PM »
we were making dog calling horns. 

That's an interesting story, thank you for sharing, I've never heard of a dog calling horn before. It sounds practical though, if you had a bunch of dogs you wanted to call in at once or just wanted to save your vocal cords from all the shouting?

We were calling fox hounds and hunting in southeast Kansas.  They run coyotes, mostly.  The horns were used to call the dogs when it was time to go home. 

The object wasn't to kill the coyotes, just have a good run and listen to the dogs.  Sort of like catch and release bass fishing.

Offline Frozen Run

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2021, 08:05:47 AM »
Interesting story with the dog horn, I have seen paintings of early hunts with dogs and horses and a horn but I never connected the dots on it.

I've decided to undergo this project with broken pieces of glass instead of my original idea of a knife. If it will mess up a knife then I can't imagine it was a common practice back then when knives were extremely valuable, so I can't imagine a scraped horn using a knife will produce the results I'm looking for. Thank you to everyone for the help! 

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Were all powder horns scraped smooth?
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2021, 11:16:36 AM »
Interesting story with the dog horn, I have seen paintings of early hunts with dogs and horses and a horn but I never connected the dots on it.

I've decided to undergo this project with broken pieces of glass instead of my original idea of a knife. If it will mess up a knife then I can't imagine it was a common practice back then when knives were extremely valuable, so I can't imagine a scraped horn using a knife will produce the results I'm looking for. Thank you to everyone for the help!

 Use a knife, all you have to do is keep it sharp or glass or break/cut off a piece of an old saw blade for a scraper, you can sharpen it with a rock if you have to.  TC