Author Topic: Softening horn with vinager?  (Read 2935 times)

Offline Dutch Blacky

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Softening horn with vinager?
« on: May 27, 2023, 12:34:17 PM »
There are actually offers of some very interesting powder flasks in eBay. Among these flasks there is one manufactured in Austria.  (https://www.ebay.de/itm/266266425976?hash=item3dfeb73a78:g:d8cAAOSwbFxkanRZ)

Powderflaskhunter, a collector from the Netherlands, is writing:
"...... typical Austrian made powder flask - or horn.
It has been manufactured around the 1840`s most likely in Vienna (Wien).
The body consists of 2 halves of pressed lanthorn.
Did you know they manufacturers used vinegar to soften the horn?!"

Does anybody among you know some more about this old technique?

Offline Tim Crosby

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2023, 03:29:43 PM »
 Never heard of that. If cold that would be one thing but if the vinegar had to be heated I would think it would work like water. Worth a try.
 I did straighten a piece of Whitetail antler once by soaking it in vinegar but that took 3 months.

    Tim 
« Last Edit: May 27, 2023, 03:33:23 PM by Tim Crosby »

Offline Dutch Blacky

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2023, 09:13:41 AM »

Maybe @feltwad would know more about  the method of softening horn using vinager?

Offline TDM

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2023, 07:32:35 AM »
Always heard and read that hot oil was used in colonial times. But I suppose hot vinegar would work. But it would be more about the temperature working the horn. I donít remember the exact temperature, but horn has to be heated above a certain point for it to forget itís previous form. Above the boiling temperature of oil would do that.

Offline Robert Wolfe

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2023, 03:37:34 PM »
I don't know about horn, but vinegar can be used to soften antler so that it can be straightened (or bent).
Robert Wolfe
Northern Indiana

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2023, 03:54:53 PM »
I don't know about horn, but vinegar can be used to soften antler so that it can be straightened (or bent).

Good point. Antler had collagen which is denatured by acid. Horn is keratin and I think less affected by acid. 
Andover, Vermont

Offline bigsmoke

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2023, 06:49:38 PM »
I don't know about vinegar, but I sure do like to use a heat gun to soften horn.  Thousands done and no cracks yet.
'Nuff said.
John (Bigsmoke)

Offline Cory Joe Stewart

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2023, 01:12:07 AM »
The ancient greeks used vinegar to soften ivory and then would form it into shapes for altars. 

Cory Joe

Offline Dave B

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2023, 09:32:33 PM »
I was talking with a man at the CLA show about restoration work on European pieces that were missing Ivory ribbon as a scroll inlet into the wood.  He said he used vinager to soften ivory/bone it to bend it to fit the mortice cut. It firms up when it dries. I thought he was pulling my leg at the time. Guess not.
Dave Blaisdell

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2023, 01:06:33 AM »
Ivory, like bone, has some collagen in it., which can be denatured by acid.  Horn is made of a different protein, keratin. Not sure how a mild acidity d would work on it.
Andover, Vermont

Offline Frozen Run

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2023, 04:29:27 AM »
Has anyone here tried using cleaning vinegar, the higher acidic vinegar sold in the bleach aisle?

Offline Jeff Murray

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2023, 04:49:28 AM »
A lot of the "pliability" of horn depends on the thickness of the horn.  Horns scraped thin are pretty easy to "round" at the base.  Thicker horns just don't cooperate.

Offline Top Jaw

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2023, 10:28:03 PM »
Horn wall thickness definitely plays a roll.  As well as how much you have to round it.  If your rounding a mostly round base, a heat gun will work.  If your making a flat horn in a press, or rounding a thicker or more oval base, itís important to get beyond the ďmemoryĒ heat point (roughly 325 to 350F).  I prefer hot oil in these cases.  Some stubborn horns I have had to ďroundĒ twice.  Initially a rough rounding to work the horn down further.  Followed by a final rounding to set the base shape and turn a base end.  I also leave the more stubborn oval horns on a sizer when Iím not working on them. Until I finally get the bass plug installed.  And a sizer shaped more like a bullet works better for these ovals, as it doesnít leave a hard edge

Offline davec2

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2024, 04:16:20 AM »
When I was a kid (~12) I confounded my teacher at school by putting an egg in a milk bottle that had a neck much smaller than the egg.  I had soaked the raw egg in vinegar until the shell became translucent and very rubbery.  I squeezed it through the neck on the bottle and then let the vinegar evaporate.  The egg hardened up just like it had been originally.  Eventually I had to shake the bottle hard enough to break the egg to prove it was a real egg.

My next trick was to slice a banana crosswise several times inside the skin and without cutting the skin.  When a schoolmate peeled the banana, it fell out of the skin in slices.  Never did tell him how that happened..... ;)
« Last Edit: April 03, 2024, 05:20:27 AM by davec2 »
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Offline Bob Gerard

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2024, 11:37:03 PM »
Ok davec2, you got me- how did you slice the banana inside the skin???
« Last Edit: April 23, 2024, 05:09:21 AM by Bob Gerard »

Offline Tanselman

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Re: Softening horn with vinager?
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2024, 05:49:47 AM »
I'd guess he stuck a needle through the skin in a couple places and worked it up and down to slice the soft banana.

Shelby Gallien