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   Powder Horns and Such 

This is a simple way of showcasing some of my work of building and decorating beautiful Powder Horns, (and perhaps a few retailed items) that I make here at my shop in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. 
~Bob Gerard Sicoransa~


~ About my Horns ~

I build basically two styles of Powder Horns; “Lobed” and “flat backs”. These refer to the manner in which the horn is attached to the carry strap.

Also, note that horns will be referred to as “Right side” or “Left side” carry. Most horns have a curve to them and it’s best to have the horn curve inward against the wearer, that outward.

I will carve the horn into a nice profile, each horn having a Body, Throat and Spout. Each section will have some tipe of transition feature, such as edging or a raised rim.

I will engrave each horn I make in various ways and to various degrees. (My engraving tool is a simple nail stuck into a dowel handle).

I don’t copy existing horns but create each one out of my own imagination and, frankly, not having any specific ‘final design” in mind. Each horn takes on a life of it’s own in the process and thus no two are ever the same.


Making a Powder Horn

~ A Short Primer ~

There are many, many ways that Horn Makers (aka., “Horners”) have gone about the business of creating Powder Horns. This is simply my own approach to the craft and art.

First, after locating the end of the inside cavity, I add an inch or so and cut the remaining tip off. Then I drill a hole of 1/4” into the inside area.

Once that task is done, I mark off where I want the three sections of the horn to go and begin removing material using rasps and files.

With the spout end shaped (I will later do the sanding and smooth scraping) I form the ring that will support the forward carry-strap, and then determine where the neck section will extend back to. I like to have 3/5" of the horn be the main body area.

Note that the horn is held in place by a 1/4” steel mandril that is inserted into the spout. For this reason I leave the spout end a bit heavy so it will not easily crack under the pressure of my working the horn.






At this point I decide where the end of the horn will be, and the type of horn I will make (Either a Lobed or Flat back. I cut the horn, with the wide end supported by a wooden brace, and saw carefully with a sharp, small-tooth crosscut saw.



The cut-off horn makes a template for the base plug shape. I cut it and bevel the sides inward a bit to fit in the horn.

And after heating the end of the horn (I use a heat gun but submerging the horn in boiling water is a popular method as well), I will gently pound the plug into the horn. If the horn is hot enough it will bend and stretch and you will see the horn expanding around the lightly tapered edges of the plug, and you get an air-tight seal. Then cut away the excess horn.

When it is in place, I drill 1/6” holes through the end, insert some wood glue and drive in wooden dowels for a permanent attachment. 




And then comes the time for refining the horn a bit, by carving in some border work and  cleaning up the surface to start the scrimshawing.... 


Then after many, many hours you arrive at a completed, heirloom quality  Powder Horn.

Below are some  Bob Gerard Powder Horns   from 2022 and 2023

Each of these are hand-made and engraved in the manner shown above.













Above are two "Lobed" style horns. Notice the extended "lobe" on the back of the horns. This is where the back of the shoulder strap will attach. It is a feature of many "French and Indian War" era Powder Horns in the American Colonies. This method is very strong if done correctly.


Above are some examples of horns I engraved with Pennsylvania-Dutch or Folk-Art Motifs

Above is a personalized Map Horn with lobed base.

~ And Various other Horns Below ~





































































Looking forward to many more enjoyable hours creating other fine Decorated Powder Horns!

With any questions please email me at

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