Working Rams Horn
Horn work has come a long way since the old Shepherds and Horners days. There were more sheep and they were allowed to live much longer, which produced far larger horns than those most of us can get today. The older the horn, the more solid the horn so they never had to use any hollow where the bone has been. All they used were the solid tip and cut and bent these into the shapes they required for their handles.
To make a Rams horn handle, first find a good sound horn with no splits or blood clots. If it is fresh of the head leave it for at least a year to dry out. Using a piece of net curtain wire down the hollow, to measure the depth of the hollow, 5cms for a Market stick and 40cms of horn for a Crook. Once you have decided on what shape handle you can get from your horn, remove the surplus hollow, ideally you will need a wall around your hollow of 5mms. It is very difficult to work with less than this thickness.
The following press is the result of 30 years working Rams horn. Everything can be done in the one press and you will be able to use smaller horns and get the same results as the others, using larger horns. You will have far more control of the horn than using a vice and wooden blocks to press out the concave. The only problem is the cost of the set up around £200.00, but the price is well worth it if you are considering making Rams horn handles, 2 horn sticks sold and you will have your money back.
This Rams horn press is designed to use a 10 ton car repair jack and a 20 ton lorry jack
You will need to get an assortment of forming shapes made up. Mine are all cut from a sheet of alloy 25mm thick. Take off any sharp corners that may damage the horn.
To press out the concave you will need the concave plate Number 1 and the side plate fixed to the side of the press Number 2. Start at the at the nose end heating and working 50mm at a time , reverse the concave using the side press, working down to the beginning of the hollow. The sides should now look fairly even.
Next step. Attach the top rounder Number 3, it should slot over the top of the side plate. Change concave plate for Bulking plate Number 4. The bulking plate must have the shaped lip, this helps to push the concave further over when pressing from underneath. Start heating the horn again from the nose end, place between plates, pump side jack until no daylight can be seen on the concave side of the horn. Select one of the pushing plates, No 5, that fits the gap tightly below the horn, pump up the lorry jack until the horn is pressed tight to the top rounder. When tight pressure is felt, release side press a little then press again from below. This part takes practice, experiment with an old horn first. Work along the horn as before you will need to repeat this part once maybe twice more. Don’t try to do too much at a time. If your concave reverts use the concave plate again.
You should now have your horn looking square and solid tapering evenly to the nose. To close up the hollow you will have to have a wall thickness of about a 5mm. Before you start to close up, remove top rounder, put the concave plate Number 1 back in the press and heat all the hollow. Use the podger Number 6 that best fits the hole to hold the side walls apart and hammer it right in. Now use the concave former, press on the concave to push the top and bottom over, do not crush the horn too hard against the podger and press all along to the end.
Select a pair of channels Number 7 that will tightly fit your horn and place in the press fit the flattening plate Number 8 on the ram. Reheat your horn holding it loosely inside your press, when hot pump the side jack up to the channels and fill the rest of the hollow with the wood wedges Number 9. When you have some pressure on, remove or break of the wooden pegs and start to unscrew the podger with a wrench. So jack up a little and unscrew a little, keep this up until the podger is out. Drill out the remainder of the pegs and press up tight, this has to stay in the press until cold. When you remove it from the press, tighten a jubilee clip around the end to keep the horn closed in case it gets hot and reverts to an opening again, when you bend it to shape around a former. The Buffalo horn former is ideal for this job.
Good luck and Happy bending. Remember to practice first. Any problems get in touch.
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