buffalo handle walking stick

Only buy good sound horn with an even shape, no deep ripples, concaves, large bulges, but with an even curve. You need 13” (33cms) plus measured on the outer edge to make a market stick with a nose in and 15” (38cms) plus to make a nose out, with a turned up nose.

The most important thing you will need is a former. You can buy the metal ones for about £45.00 or get one made up by the blacksmith or someone with a welder.

To make a former you will need;

  • A piece of ¼” (6mm) plate 8” x 8” (20cm x 20cm) for the base plate.
  • Some ¼” (6mm) x 1 ½” (40mm) flat steel for the horn former
  • A piece of angle iron welded on the back of the plate to hold it in the vice.

The tools you will need are;

  • An electric hot air gun.
  • A piece of 2” (5cm) piping about 24” (60cm) long.
  • Some thin wood strips to put between the clamps and the horn.
  • A 24” (60cm) sash ramp, if you have one.
  • An assortment of rasps, G clamps and files.

You will need to trim the horn to shape using a band saw, coping saw or rasps. If you have a slight bit of the hollow showing on the head end, cut this back to solid. File the sides flat, taking out any deep ripples if you can leaving your horn 1 1/8” (28mm). Take off some of the outside of the arc to give you a flat edge, this will help you hold it in place with the clamps.

Next cut out a piece of horn from the head end, removing a piece ¼” (6mm) deep going up the horn 3” (76mms). (If making a working crook this measurement needs to be 4” (101mms). This bulge when bent will become the heel. Remove some of the inside to leave the horn 1 ¼” (32mms) deep. Reducing the horn like this will help to get the heat into the centre and make it easier to bend to shape.

Your horn should now look like this.

buffalo horn walking stick

Now for the fun bit, you really need some kind of boiler to boil the horns eg. an old large saucepan that will take at least ¾ of your horn. Put the thick end in the water and boil for at least ½ hour. Whilst it is getting hot enough, get everything on the bench ready to start your bending as you don’t want to lose any heat. Place a strip of wood about ¼” (6mm) thick on the base plate where the first clamps are going, but keep clear of the part where the horn Is going to be bent. This will allow the horn to bulge out without it getting squashed against the base plate. Take the hot horn, clamp it tightly against the former using another strip of wood between the clamps and the horn, so you don’’t mark the soft horn.

buffalo horn walking stick

Using the hot air gun continue to heat the horn where it is going to bend. Heat each side and the inside of the horn without burning. Never heat the outside of the horn as it will cause the horn to crack and tear instead of stretch.

Put the pipe on the end of the horn and try to pull it around the former while still heating. You don’t need to force it too hard. It will go when it’s ready.

When you have it against the former use a strip of wood and a G clamp and tighten it to the former. Do not let the horn go until the clamp is on, or the horn will crack on the inside of the bend.

buffalo horn walking stick

Now carry on heating the rest of the horn. Rather than using the pipe. I find it easier to use a sash cramp to pull the nose to the former as the pipe can get in your way. As you pull it around the former keep it clamped tight to the former in case the clamp or pipe comes off.

buffalo horn walking stick

When the horn has gone in tight to the shape of the former leave it to go cold, preferably over night.

Remove the horn from the former, you should have a nice horse shoe shape. Next decide whether you want a nose in or nose out. For the nose in you can put it in the vice to hold it in place and apply heat to the spot where you want to bend the horn. When hot enough tighten the vice and again leave to go cold. For a nose out scroll you will need some mole grips, mark the horn with a round file on the inside of the scroll, this will help your bend. Do not heat the outside of the bend. When it is hot enough, start to bend your scroll. Using your round file keep the horn smooth on the inside, when you have it to your liking tie the grips some where to hold it in place and leave to go cold.

How to shape your handle (what you should be looking for is, across the top of the handle, it should be 1” (25mm) wide x 1 1/8” (28mm) deep and an even taper to the end of the nose. Where the stick end is , file this to 1” (25mm) square, do all this with a file) Starting with the inside line, file this first to get your shape, then match this shape to the outside. When you are happy draw a line along the centre of all four sides. This line you leave on to help you to round your handle.

buffalo horn walking stick

Using your file, file from one side line to the next line, to round off all the corners. When all the corners are done strop all around with emery cloth. (To join your head to the stick refer to the dowel joint section)

buffalo horn walking stick

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