My first powder horn

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by frontiergander, Jul 9, 2020.

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  1. frontiergander

    frontiergander Member

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    Done! Made the staples myself out of a coat hanger, flattened them, heated then up and put a twist in them. A little wood glue for some support and they tapped into the horn and wood base plug nicely. The base plug & spout I lightly torched for some age and color. A hand rubbed coat of linseed oil and shes done! Already hanging off my shooting bag. 100% sealed air tight including the staple that goes through the horn. Later I finished up adding the brass tacks to add some back up in case the epoxy ever fails.

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    .38 Special, Frulk, kBob and 6 others like this.
  2. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Neato!
     
  3. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    Looks good to me.
    Real bison horn?
     
  4. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    Awesome work mr.frontiergander!
     
  5. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    This is certainly a serviceable powder horn made from a bison horn. It will work fine and it's a good first effort. The staples look great.

    However, as someone who has made a few powder horns, including a couple of bison horn ones, I think that some guidance would assist you in your future efforts.

    First of all I would suggest that you pick up the softcover book by Scott and Kathy Sibley called "Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn" from "Track of the Wolf". It's only $20.00 and despite the grandiose-sounding name it's a great instruction manual for beginners. The first sections are about just preparing and building a horn in general and it's really helpful.

    Also, I'm not sure why you chose to leave the rough exterior on your bison horn. Perhaps you were going for a rustic look which is fine. It's your horn.
    But if you were not aware, that bark will sand off with flexible sanding sponges of various grits. (That's in the book as well).
    Ultimately a natural horn has plenty of material to polish down to a very smooth finish with less effort than it might seem.

    I hope that I don't seem critical. I'm just trying to be helpful. Horn making can be a great hobby.
     
  6. frontiergander

    frontiergander Member

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    No smooth shiny finishes on this one!

    If you were a mountain man in the day and were need of a horn in a hurry, you weren't worried about making it super thin, shiny and scrimshawed. All that IMO is nothing but pretty rich boy stuff back in the day unless you truly had a lot of down time, say during the winter when trapping was shut down.

    My story behind it... I was crossing the mountains when my powder horn was lost/broken and I had to make one with materials that nature offered and what I had in my packs. Local pine for the base plug and mule deer antler for the spout.

    Mountain men lived a rough life and a thin fancy scrimshawed horn would be a very delicate and rare item.
     
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  7. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Could you show us the hole in the spout?
    I thought that what I was looking at was the spout cover.
    Silly me, I thought that the cover was decorated wood.
    But now it looks like it's antler.
    I was wondering what was under the cover, I thought that it might be a brass spout.
    Because I didn't see any hole showing.
    We're missing out on seeing all of the features.
    If what's shown is not the cover but it's the spout, where is the plug for spout, or is that a cover for the spout?
    BTW, nice looking horn.

    P.S. I would be concerned about the side staple being pulled out by accident in the woods if a strap were directly attached to it.
    Another method of securing an attaching point for a strap might be safer in the long run, and would take more abuse.
    Did you intend to directly attached a strap to the side staple?
    That staple could be used to help secure a leather or cord wrap in place, which a strap could then be attached to the wrap.
    Perhaps then there would be less strain on the side staple.
    After all, I have no idea how secure that side staple really is on the inside of the horn.
    Did you use expoxy to secure it on the inside like JB Weld or something?
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
  8. frontiergander

    frontiergander Member

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    all staples had a little dab of glue as a sealant and back up. The staples I made are not your usual. I made mine to look like a fish hook. One side is longer and curved. This side gets set first and it goes and grabs the underside and then i tap down the other side into place. This is an extremely tight set up and even the holes were drilled under sized. I hate having my leather straps come undone, so I went went the staple set up as its a lot more secure. I still have to make another tiny staple to secure a thong to the spout plug. I'll take some more detailed pics here in a bit.
     
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  9. frontiergander

    frontiergander Member

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  10. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    That piece of antler is a post like plug that fits into a simple hole in the horn?
    You could drill a hole into the top of the antler and attach a short string to the staple so that the plug won't get dropped or lost, and which might help to free up one hand after it's pulled out.
    We're being a tough crowd today! ;)
    Thanks for the photos.
    It's a beautiful and rustic mountain man horn that has obviously been made with a lot of love and precision fitting.
     
  11. frontiergander

    frontiergander Member

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    I was actually thinking about making a D ring out of the coat hanger and make it square, then twist it like i did my staples. Something better to attach the thong to and a much smaller hole.
     
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  12. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Great idea, as long as it doesn't make any rattling noises when hunting.
     
  13. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    Mountain men usually bought powder horns at Rendezvous or at trading posts. They really didn't have the tools to make them. In a pinch a mountaineer might have to cobble something up I suppose.

    The vast majority of powder horns sold to mountaineers and Indians were trade horns. These were not scrimshawed or engraved or decorated in any way. They were just plain mass-produced horns with a smooth sanded finish with a simple cord or leather thong to carry them and with a wooden spout plug. Often they were sold filled with powder.
    Elegant scrimshawed horns were mostly made in the 18th century. 19th century horns were mostly plain. Even so, most powder horns used in the 18th century were also just plain horns sanded smooth. The main reason that so many fancy horns have survived is because they were prized enough to put away and save.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
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  14. Iggy

    Iggy Member

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    That’s fat cow doin’s that is.
    Even got a ” quick capper.”
    Well done.
    Now find some heavy leather and glue several layers together. Cut it in a strip and drill holes in it big enough to hold some greased patched round balls, and you got yourself a speed loader.
    Put it on the muzzle, punch a ball through with the short starter and your half way done.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
  15. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    Everybody knows mountain men got their powder online. Pshh read a forum. But in all seriousness i always wondered about the quality of powder used in the fur trader era...do any good samples still exist? I know some of the stuff from the 19th century was swiss quality and they used a little bit less due to using a finer powder such as 4fg powder in revolver cartridges. Im actually thinking about using 4fg from now on and see if i see a difference in my .36 cal navies when compared to 3fg. Ive read when using 4fg powder that its best to use and start at 10% of the bullet weight. But im thinking maybe up to 12-13% of bullet weight may be worth a try too.
     
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  16. Iggy

    Iggy Member

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    never mind..:cool:
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
  17. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    Speed loaders sounds like a great idea.
     
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  18. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    Nope. They mined sulpher, cooked their own charcoal, and saved their urine and ran it through wood ash to make the saltpeter. Every mountaineer had a gunpowder mill near his log cabin and had his squaw and young'uns trained to make the holy black. :D
     
  19. TOOT44

    TOOT44 Member

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    you did good my friend. it looks like an original, not loaded with BELLS & WHISTLES, KUDOS!
     
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  20. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    A working trappers' horn made by him.
     
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