Monday 31 December 2018

Making A Powder Horn.

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.


Friday 7 December 2018

Gun Cleaning. A personal Point Of View.

This post has been prompted by several posts on forums concerning the problems people are having with gun cleaning. Principally the cleaning of the barrel.

All of the problems I have read about to date, to my thinking, seems to come from the use of modern cleaning agents & solvents. I fail to see why anyone would bother to try & fix something that is not broken! A method that has been working for over 300 years, but it seems that muzzle-loader users are getting lazy; they don't want to use the old tried & true methods because it seems too arduous & time consuming. So they turn to simpler quicker methods.

Some facts: When you oil the bore of your gun, pistol or rifle, the barrel absorbs some of that oil. If you use a modern solvent or cleaning product it will remove that oil from your barrel. Then you will have to purchase some other modern product that promises to stop your barrel rusting after you have cleaned it!

The best method is the oldest method, clean your barrel & lock with boiling water, dry the barrel with cloth or some other natural plant fibre. If I have a fire going I usually let the barrel stand where it will warm but not get too hot. Next, using a natural plant fibre again I oil the barrel & lock with sweet oil or neetsfoot oil. Job done. If you are seeing signs of black on your cleaning cloth, then you have not washed the barrel sufficiently. DO IT AGAIN! If you are getting signs of rust on your cleaning material, it can be because the wash water was not hot enough, or you did not dry the bore sufficiently. Keep running oiled material down the bore with your ramrod or cleaning rod until the bore is clean.

There is such a product as water soluble engineers oil, my Father called it "Pigeon's milk"! This product is what my Father told me to use when cleaning the barrels on my guns, this is what he used on his guns. The same method was used as in these videos, but the water soluble oil was added to the wash water, just a small amount. I have not used this oil since I was a lad, but it worked well back then. If it is the right oil, it will turn white in contact with the water.
Take care out there.

Monday 3 December 2018

Securing Corked Bottles 2. Another Way.

Cover the cork with a piece of cloth or light leather & tie around the neck of the bottle.

Securing Corked Bottles. The Beer Knot.

The Apothecary Fold.

The apothecary fold is an 18th century paper container that apothecaries made to hold prescriptions. These same containers can be used to hold herbs or spices in your knapsack.

My thanks to weaver, one of our group members for bringing this item to my attention.
Many thanks weaver.
Regards, Keith.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

More Information on the Penny Knife.

I should have picked up on this information a long time ago when Willy contacted me saying that the penny knife looked just like a Trattenbach pocket knife. Somehow I missed Willy's post! Then recently I was contacted by Robert asking for more information on the Penny knife, I told Robert that I had no more information to give him. Then I get an email from Robert with this, to me anyway, astounding revelation that these penny knives were being made over 500 years ago in Austria, & they are still being made today! So my apologies to Willy for missing his post, & my thanks to Robert for the information he sent me that started a new line of research.
Here below then is what I have found so far:

Penny Knife Information.
Almost everyone knows the pocket faucet - a folding pocket knife with a turned wooden handle that fits in any trouser pocket and is used in a variety of ways, from jausen to mushroom picking. In 1422, the knife production in Trattenbach was first mentioned in documents, since 1682 it is considered an independent guild. One of the secrets to success was the hard, high-quality sharp steel used for the blades. The knives were exported to large parts of Europe and as far as Africa. Today two more factories produce the Trattenbacher pocket felts by hand. The knowledge about the history, production and use of the pocket fagot is still upheld today in Trattenbach:

The Trattenbach pocket knife, a foldable knife that consists of a blade and a lathed wooden handle, has been hand-produced in Trattenbach for nearly 600 years.
Since 1682, Trattenbach’s cutlers have been recognized as an independent guild. 
 The first written mention of knife-making there is from 1422. 

Monday 26 November 2018

Immigration in 18th century America.

Immigration in 18th century America.

1707: As a result of the Act of Union (the Scottish Parliament and the English Parliament united to form the Parliament of Great Britain), a large migration of Scottish to America began. They settled in colonial seaports and the Lowland laborers became indentured servants in the tobacco-raising colonies and New York.
1709: German Palatines, fleeing the devastation of war, settled in the Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania.
1717: As punishment, criminals in England were transported to America, mostly to Virginia and Maryland.
1718: Large numbers of discontented Scottish again emigrated to New England and later to Maryland and Pennsylvania; they had been driven out of their homeland by high rent, absentee landlords, and short leases for farming land.
1730: Germans and Scotch-Irish migrated from Pennsylvania to Virginia and the Carolinas.
1732: Georgia, settled by James Oglethorpe, provided a place for imprisoned debtors.
1740: In an attempt to encourage Jewish immigration, the Naturalization Act was enacted by the English Parliament. It gave British citizenship to colonial immigrants.
1745: Another wave of Scottish immigration when rebels against the attempt to re-throne the Stuarts were sent to America.
1755: On suspicion of disloyalty, Nova Scotia expelled French Arcadians. Those who survived settled in Louisiana.

Sunday 18 November 2018

The Gunpowder Bag.

Two of the author's five leather gunpowder bags.

A gunpowder bag is used for carrying extra gunpowder on extended journeys into wilderness area, or when one plans to be living in the wilderness long term. A leather bag of gunpowder is far lighter to carry than multiple powder horns.

The Gunpowder Bag.
   takes fire readily from the spark of a steel: but it is much improved by being kept dry in a bag that has contained gunpowder.”
Samuel Hearne, Northern Canada, 1772.
A hundred miles upstream from Jamestown, on an exploring journey by canoe, Smith was badly burned and injured by the explosion of a gunpowder bag.

Supplies for 24 Abenakis and Iroquois who have joined our party:
24 pounds of gunpowder in one bag of half an ell
Supplies for the six militia men: 6 pounds of gunpowder in bags of one eighth of an ell.
1756-1760 journal of Louis Antoine de Bougainville
France, Archives de Colonies series C11A, volume 117, folios 191v to 194, National Archives of Canada, microfilm f-118.

  15           Leather Powder Bags 
From American Fur Co. Papers. Vol. Y, Z. Missouri Historical Society
Invoice of Sundry Merchandise furnished Rocky Mountain Outfit 1837 under charge of Fontenelle, Fitzpatrick & Co.

"He thinks every man should have a wallet of Oznabrigs to carry his provisions in when they leave their horses at the passes of the mountains, and two pair of mockasheens, that blankets would be wanted and clasp knives, thread for the linen and woolen bags for transporting the powder when taken from the waggons...................
Letter of Judge Henderson to Propietors remaining in North Carolina
Boonsborough June 12, 1775.

"Wednesday Morning a sorrowful Accident happen'd at the House of Cap. Thomas Homans in the westerly Part of this Town near Hooper's Meeting House: A small Quantity of Powder (suppos'd to be about a Quart) in a Leathern Bag, having been some time since put up on the Jam of a Chimney in a Chamber wherein they had been us'd to make a Fire, and the Family being about moving into the Country, did not suppose they should every have Occasion for a Fire there: But a young Child being out of Order two or three Days ago, they made a Fire in the same Chimney, and unhappily forgot the Powder…….
The Pennsylvania Gazette
April 12, 1739
BOSTON, February 26.