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Thread: HORN SCALE QUESTION

  1. #11
    Senior Member RaymondMillbrae's Avatar
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    Okay, I know it's been a few months since I started this thread...but I'm finally getting around to working with it.

    I'm just gonna put it in a smaller toaster oven to heat it up.

    What would be a good temperature to set the oven?

    And how long should I keep it in there?

    TIA.
    Last edited by RaymondMillbrae; 10-17-2021 at 02:57 AM.
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    Senior Member jfk742's Avatar
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    Keep the heat kind of low. I usually shoot for 180-200f. Too much heat will give you delaminations. You can boil the blanks too. Afterward get them clamped between two flat culls and let cool to room temp. Repeat until they’re good. For bad warps I shape the profile but leave the blanks thick. Sometimes they start to warp again as you thin them down to final size. Watch your heat build up if shaping with power tools. I also oppose the bows so they leave a gap between in the middle. When you pin it together it will help straighten them and give you a little better resistance when open in the stropping position.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    I don’t measure heat, mostly use hot water from the tap, heat until you can bend easily, usually too hot to hold in your hand. If you need to, reheat.

    You are over-thinking it. Hot enough to bend. A heat gun is inexpensive, can add extra heat quickly to spot bend, tweak.

    Once you have cut to shape and thinned, they heat and bend easily. For example, a scaled razor with slightly bent scales can easily be straightened by heating under running hot water, 2-3 minutes and shimming the open razor with3-5 tongue depressors to slightly over shape the scales or put in a wood vise or couple of clamps. Let cool 10-15 minutes and reheat and tweak until you get the shape you want. The whole straightening process takes 20-30 minutes, depending on the warp. While it is clamped and cooling I am doing other things.

    There is no formula, it is trial and error, hard to screw it up. It is easier than it sounds.

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    Some people use hot water and if that works for them great, but professional horners never use hot water and always use a dry heat, usually some kind of flame. The keratin in horn needs to get closer to something like 300F to become pliable enough to work and also loose it's memory of it's previous shape, if your heat is too low the horn won't lose this memory and will start to shift back over time. Heat gun as mentioned above is ideal.

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    Hones & Honing randydance062449's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, this is very useful.
    Randolph Tuttle, a SRP Mentor for residents of Minnesota & western Wisconsin

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    Senior Member jfk742's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thp001 View Post
    Some people use hot water and if that works for them great, but professional horners never use hot water and always use a dry heat, usually some kind of flame. The keratin in horn needs to get closer to something like 300F to become pliable enough to work and also loose it's memory of it's previous shape, if your heat is too low the horn won't lose this memory and will start to shift back over time. Heat gun as mentioned above is ideal.

    Thanks, that would explain some of the issues I’ve had with memory in a couple of blanks I’ve not been able to get flat. Is there any reason I would get delaminations at that level of heat? They’re honey horn blanks.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth PaulFLUS's Avatar
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    A hair straightener is the easiest way I've found but an iron also works well. I have also put them in between two cast iron skillets. That way you get the heat and flat weight all in one. Heat both skillets and use them like a sandwich press. That's actually where I got the idea. The one caution is that you want to put the scales between foil if they are honey horn to avoid staining them from any residue on the pans but that won't be as big an issue with the black horn. Still, you don't want to get a whiff of grilled cheese sandwich every time you shave.
    Last edited by PaulFLUS; 10-19-2021 at 01:29 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfk742 View Post
    Thanks, that would explain some of the issues Iíve had with memory in a couple of blanks Iíve not been able to get flat. Is there any reason I would get delaminations at that level of heat? Theyíre honey horn blanks.
    You should be fine if you are careful. The trick is to just be getting the heat into the horn without starting to, for lack of a better word, cook it. PaulFLUS's idea of using a hair straightener or skillets is a better option than just placing the scales in the oven imo and I have used those methods also, I switched to using a flame when I watched a video of the workers at Abbeyhorn and started looking into the horner trade.

    I actually found that delamination was a lot worse with water methods than dry heat, everything looks fine when it's boiling but as everything dries I always got a lot of thin, almost like peeling skin on the surface of the horn along with wrinkling and delamination would develop more over time.

    You also want to shape your scales as close to final shape so that the horn is at it's thinnest so it's easier and quicker to get the required heat into it, trying to bend a full thickness horn blank (most horn for this sort of thing being 1/8 or 3mm) is difficult without starting to damage the outer surface. Honey horn needs more delicacy because it is easy to discolor the horn with too much heat.

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