I have had a request to demonstrate how to make a powder horn by one of my video channel followers, Tony, but I do not have the time at present or in the near future to make a video of this, so I am going to try & explain how it is done here with images.
The very first thing I do is cut off the tip of the horn & drill the hole for the pouring spout. The reason for this is that if I make a mistake drilling the spout, then at least I have not wasted much time & I can start again with another horn. I recommend that you use hand tools as I do & take your time getting it right.
Cow horns are the best choice for a powder horn, bull horns tend to have less hollow space & more solid horn extending from the tip into the horn.
You can make the hole any size that suits the horn, from a 1/4 inch to 1/2 an inch. You can use a piece of dowel for a plug, or you can make your own plug. The plug will need to be slightly tapered so that it will fit securely into the spout. Making the spout plug can be done at any stage, it is the last thing I do when making a horn.
I used the tip I cut from this horn to make a cap for the spout plug.
Next I cut off the base plug end of the horn to get rid of any ragged edges. This image shows the base of an original horn & base plug.
I then choose the wood for my base plug. It can be of any timber you wish, a board from the local hardware store, or you can rive a board of your own. Place the base of the horn on the wood board & draw around it with a pencil. Next cut out the shape you have drawn.
I shape the base plug with a horse hoof rasp, shaping it to the concave of the inner part of the horn. Every now & then I try the plug in the base of the horn & make a pencil mark around the plug at the edge of the horn so I can see where I need to remove wood.
When it is close to fitting, I finish with sand or glass paper for a smoother finish. Once the plug fits nicely in the base of the horn, I melt beeswax around the edge of the base plug & push it into the horn.
DO NOT glue the base plug to secure it in the horn, this base plug also acts as a safety release valve if the horn should ever take a spark & explode. Rather than the horn shattering into your side, the pressure from the explosion will blow the base plug out of the horn.
Secure the base plug with 4-6 metal or wooden pins.
This horn sent to me from Scotland uses small tacks to secure the plug. Once this part of the making is done, blow into the horn to make sure it is totally sealed. If air escapes around the base plug, simply melt some more beeswax around the edge & rub it in with your hand.
Next you need to add a staple to the base plug to secure the carry strap to. You also need to shape a groove around the horn at the spout end to secure the carry strap. This is a good time to file any design into the horn if you so desire, or you can just leave it plain. All shaping I do with a horse hoof rasp, a round bastard metal file & a fine flat metal file.
This lower horn was the very first horn I made when I had few tools to work with out bush, so I made a leather base cover instead of a wooden plug. The spout plug I carved with a clasp knife.
The final polishing of the horn I do with wool fleece & wood ashes as per original horn work in the 18th century.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.