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Topic Archives => Build Alongs => Topic started by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:17:00 PM

Title: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:17:00 PM
I’ve had some people ask in the past how to prepare Oryx horn for use on the belly of a bow, so last winter I started taking a few pics when I was messing with some.

With the Torges/Bowyers Journal challenge being mulled over some people have been toying with the idea of using horn on their “contender”, so this might be a good time to try and post these.  

Keep in mind I’m still experimenting with all of this, and I’m certainly not claiming I’ve got it all figured out.  
Started with adding baleen to the belly, until I ran out of my supply and tired of the high price of material….and the legal issues.  
Tried using Gemsbok horn as a substitute and it seems to work OK, although it takes a little work to prepare.  
It’s fun to fiddle with as an alternative, although the jury is still out on the actual benefits with the type of bow I normally build.  

For those of you considering a bow for the challenge mentioned above, keep in mind that at one time baleen was used as a backing material.   I believe horn would be more durable then baleen on the back of a bow.  
Someone might consider building a 58” horn bellied and backed bow, perhaps somewhat styled after some of the short hybrids that seem to be kinda popular.  
Based on a comparison of horn to fiberglass, suspect the core laminations would be key.

Anyway, I’ll try to get these pics up with a few comments and maybe someone will get some good out of them.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:19:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040003.jpg)

 The horn blank.   Gemsbok, Oryx.  Ebay is a good source sometimes.   Try to get male horns.  (thicker) and get them as long as you can.    Make sure they are somewhat fresh.   I’ve been burned on some old relics that are unusable.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:21:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040013.jpg)

The horn needs to be split.   It saws easily,  just stinks a little.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:30:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040015.jpg)

The horn after splitting.   Note it is hollow for most of the way, and will need to be flattened with heat.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:32:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040017.jpg)

Before flattening, it’s a good idea to grind the ridges off the outside.   Easier to flatten.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:33:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040019.jpg)

A heat gun works great.   I sometimes start by using a very special horn flattening tool to open up the horn.   You can pass this step if you trim the horn a little more on the sides.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:34:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040020.jpg)

After the round horn is partially flattened using the very special caul; you can finish in the vise.   Must be hot enough to bend w/o cracking.   I heat until my finger sizzles a little when I touch it.   You might gauge the correct temp by wiggling the unheated section of horn around as your applying heat.  You can tell when it’s getting rubbery and ready to bend.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:35:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040021.jpg)

The butt end partially flattened.   Keep working your way up the horn, flattening 4-5” at a time.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:36:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1050026.jpg)

Horn after being flattened with heat.  Next step is to grind the horn to the initial thickness and clean up the edges.   I normally like to leave the horn a little thick during glue up, easier to apply uniform clamping pressure then with a thin piece.   .100 - .125 is about right.   Plan on thinning down to at least  .060 to .080 during the final tillering process.    I’m starting to think thinner is better, but I’m still experimenting.     Added horn to 4 bows over the New Years weekend that I’m trying to thin the horn to .040 -.050.    I have high hopes for something better as a result.

Note, when sanding you’re going to make a stink, and it will linger for some time.   If you’re shop is in your home you might be in trouble.   If a neighbor stops by that you’d rather not visit with, you’re in luck.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: loyd on January 03, 2006, 06:38:00 PM
John i have a pair of them , been wondering what to do with them, your shop is way to clean for me to work in. loyd
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:40:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1050027.jpg)

Sometimes it needs to be straightened sideways.   Do not pull into place when gluing.   A little heat will allow it to line up properly.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:41:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1050028.jpg)

Prior to glue-up, the horn should be shaped to match the limb.   Trace it out and grind to shape.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: '46 on January 03, 2006, 06:42:00 PM
John, thanks. I'd like to see those bows (works of art) when your finished. You are waaaay too modest my friend.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:44:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040009.jpg)

Back of horn after grinding.  The ridges will be removed after it is glued to the bow.  Looks bad now, but when finished it will be wonderful.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:45:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040007.jpg)

Two blanks ready to glue to bow belly.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:46:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1050034.jpg)

Another view of both horn pieces ready to glue on.   (Timo, I think this is the carp backed bow blank)
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:47:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040010.jpg)

The bow blank the horn will be glued too should be flat tillered to aprox 6-8# under your target weight  This will vary depending on how thin you want your horn to end up, and how much you radius the belly.   I’ve been trying to get the horn thinner now then I did on my first attempts and hope the end result is a better shooting bow.  
  Belly of the bow and the gluing surface of the horn must be flat or very slightly concave.  

  I prepare the surface of both with 36 grit just prior to glue up.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:48:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040012.jpg)

 A trial run before glue up is helpful.   On this bow, the horn will not run all the way to the tips.   The bow blank is also left wide, and once the tips are narrowed all will fall into place.  Probably.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:49:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040024.jpg)

 Messy glue up bench.  Many clamps.   I’ve only used Smooth-on or G2.    Heard Urac may work, but I haven’t tried it yet on horn.    Back in the hot box to cure.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:50:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1040023.jpg)

During the glue up, I use ¼” Polycarb as a pressure strip.   I like to see where the horn is positioned, and since its clear this is helpful. (also get it free out of the trash)
If it’s a BB backed bow make sure you have adequate padding between the clamp and the BB.   I’m  starting to suspect some of the BB failures that people are experiencing are the result of denting/bruising the BB during glue up.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:51:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1110046.jpg)

Two horny bellies…ready to re-tiller
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:52:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1110048.jpg)

The horn works great with a scraper.  Nice fine shavings.    I alternate scraper with sanding block.  
If your dog is hanging around, the shavings are a nice treat.  
The puke on the living room rug later isn’t.    You’ve been warned.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 03, 2006, 06:55:00 PM
(http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/horn%20belly/P1050037.jpg)

The horn is blended into the belly.   This is the start of the fun part…..    You can run the horn to the tip of the bow, or not.    The horn on the last 4-6” is not doing anything but adding weight, IMO.

You’ll need to re-tiller the bow, but if it was properly tillered to start with it’s not much of a chore.  

All the pics I have…thanks for taking the time to look.


This is a pic of a belly from a few years ago.  The horn cleans up and finishes nicely.  

 (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v75/John4040/Bows/Oryxb3.jpg)
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Jim Spencer on January 03, 2006, 07:02:00 PM
John,this is probably a stupid question,but is the bow tillered the same way,from the belly,shave the horn down.Or is it tillered from the sides?....Jim.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Dano on January 03, 2006, 07:03:00 PM
Outstanding pictorial John, I knew there was a little work to this but had no idea  :banghead:  Certainly worth the labor, thanks bud.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: DCM on January 03, 2006, 07:21:00 PM
Nice tute John.  Thanks for posting.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Timo on January 03, 2006, 07:24:00 PM
I knew that boy would shake the cobwebs off his camera! :D

Very nice John! And John,I have a dog....It's an outside dog!    :readit:    :D
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: knife river on January 03, 2006, 07:30:00 PM
Very nice work.  Really looking forward to pics of the finished bows!
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: clintopher on January 03, 2006, 08:27:00 PM
I'll second the tutorials idea.  Also am looking forward to finished pics.

Clint
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Shakes.602 on January 03, 2006, 08:36:00 PM
All I can say is : WOW!!!  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Crooked Stic on January 03, 2006, 08:43:00 PM
This is the kind of thread I like. Nice looking bow   :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Timo on January 03, 2006, 09:36:00 PM
Mike,come to mojam, and you can see those bows first hand!(and alot of others)  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Walt Francis on January 03, 2006, 09:42:00 PM
Great thread!
Excellent pictures!
More important, at least for me, its motivates.  I'm headed for ebay in search of some horns.  

Walt Francis
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Bodork on January 03, 2006, 09:49:00 PM
Really neat tutorial. Can't wait to see the finished bow.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: James Wrenn on January 03, 2006, 10:02:00 PM
Really cool! Thanks for posting this.I have always wondered how in the heck they get those horns flat like that.  :)
btw.. you can send me that bow when you get tired of it.   :D
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: horseapple on January 03, 2006, 10:18:00 PM
Well look what the cat drug in:)  Guys John sure nows his stuff on these horn bellied bows and bamboo bellied bows and osage bellied bows and bloodwood bows and... the list goes on as you get my point:)  He's a true inspiration for guys that want to learn something other than selfbows, and for someone from Iowa he's pretty nice:) I'm lucky to own one of his horn bellied bows and believe me they look way better in person than pic's can show. Do you think I'll use it for a pattern on my next horn bow:) All I can say is thanks John for pushing the envelope and opening eyes to new and great ideas in bowcrafting.

Joe Don
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Bloodtrailer on January 03, 2006, 10:27:00 PM
that is nice work cant wait to see the bow that they are going on   :bigsmyl:
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Huntrdfk on January 03, 2006, 10:35:00 PM
Wow, that is just awesome work.  Thanks for sharing...  :notworthy:    :notworthy:    :notworthy:  


David
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: wolfhawaii on January 04, 2006, 02:10:00 AM
Very illuminating, thanks for sharing, John!
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: NorthShoreLB on January 04, 2006, 02:57:00 AM
I had no Idea how all that horn thing worked,

thanks for sharing.

I think I'll stick to selfbows  :rolleyes:  

   Manny
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: SamuraiWarrior2 on January 04, 2006, 04:08:00 AM
i think a backing of horn would fail catastrophically in tension.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Orso on January 04, 2006, 05:11:00 AM
What an awesome thread/turtorial...Thanks so much for sharing this with us.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: ber643 on January 04, 2006, 06:18:00 AM
My, my, my, what an interesting thread and I'll bet it makes a beautiful bow.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: gifford, MO on January 04, 2006, 07:27:00 AM
Outstanding pictoral, thanks for taking the time to document the process and share it with us.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: the Ferret on January 04, 2006, 07:42:00 AM
JBS your shop looks just as I imagined it would.

Nice job on the tute. Doubt I'll be making any of these soon, but it's neat to see how they are done and I can't think of a person more knowledgable to show the process. Thanks.

I need to be asking you some questions on another subject  one of tese days. Would you email me so that I can get your email addy?

huntinsticks@fuse.net
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: NativeArcher on January 04, 2006, 07:42:00 AM
beautiful job I like the look of the ridges on the gemsbok horns it would be a nice backing. I do most of my own work but havent tried bow making yet so again hats of to ya .. matt
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: TexMex on January 04, 2006, 08:25:00 AM
Beautiful, gracias!!
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: wingnut on January 04, 2006, 08:52:00 AM
Nice job John!!

you have better luck with the flattening then I do.  Probably more patience.

I finally got some water buff horn to try.  I'll let you know how it works out.

Mike
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Scifres on January 04, 2006, 09:06:00 AM
Neat.  Thanks.  I always wondered about that.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: TexMex on January 04, 2006, 09:09:00 AM
How well would watusi horn work?
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Tom Leemans on January 04, 2006, 09:40:00 AM
John - et al,
I bought some 1/4" thick rubber of the appropriate hardness/softness from McMaster Carr to pad the bamboo during glue-up and for a pressure strip, I rip 1/8" to 3/16" thick strips of wood from 2X4's. It's easy to get a full length pressure strip, they're flexible enough and you just dispose of them when done or cut them up and use as clamp pads for something else. They seem stout enough to transfer clamping pressure and the wood gives in to the clamp pad a little. I've had no failures or problems with this set-up and it's cheap!
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Shaun on January 04, 2006, 10:10:00 AM
Wow! Nice pics and clear explainations. Thanks a bunch John.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Celtic Archer on January 04, 2006, 10:56:00 AM
Why is horn only used for a  belly backing and not on the front?

Thinking about tackling a bnow build and I was just curious.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 04, 2006, 01:16:00 PM
Thanks guys, hope someone can use this someday.  

To answer a few ?’s.

Jim, the bow is re-tillered from the belly.   Since the blank is tillered before the horn is applied, it’s not too difficult.

ClintV., I’m not sure if you could run the material thru a planner.   I’d be leery of it.   I’m sure a drum sander would probably work, but I prefer to do it by hand.

Mike, very interested in how the buff horn works out.   Particularly if it appears to be better quality.   Do you think you get more then one bow per horn?

Tom; good idea on the clamp pads.   I’ve started using thick harness leather.    Used rubber for a while but the stuff I had did not hold up in the hot box.   You probably have some better quality rubber.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: huntersim on January 04, 2006, 02:55:00 PM
Mr. Sturtevant,
 I just bought some horn last week for a different type of bow. But now after seeing this I guess I'm gonna have to get some more. In this, I'm am also sure my wife wont be too happy about my venture (with all the horn I may go through). And you did such a good job with this. Do you think you could give me tips on how to deal with her? :)  Seriously....great job.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Jim Spencer on January 04, 2006, 03:09:00 PM
Thanks for answering my question John,I was worried that it had gotten buried.This was a great tutorial,you are a master craftsman....Jim.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: wingnut on January 04, 2006, 04:29:00 PM
John,

So far I bought the pre cut horn slats.  They are 1 3/4 " wide and 23" long.

Also very thick.  Almost wish I could rip em and get two per slat.

Mike
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Timo on January 04, 2006, 06:48:00 PM
Mike, can't you resaw them them on your band saw?
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: SamuraiWarrior2 on January 05, 2006, 12:20:00 AM
John,
How wide have you gotten pieces out of gemsbok horns?  They look almost 4" wide at the base.
How thick are they right after the ridges are sanded off, before you grind them to your need.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 05, 2006, 05:04:00 AM
Hwarang, The base can be 3"+ at the base after flattening the split.   Quickly tapers to about 1" to 1 1/4" mid horn.
They are fairly thin at the base, 1/8" or so without the ridges.  The thickness increases towards the tip to 3/8" - 1/2".  

Mike, I've split baleen that was 3/16 to 1/4".  It's a little nerve racking, but possible.  How thick is the buff horn?   Had no idea you could buy strips.   Do they come any longer then 23"?

Where does a feller get Watusi horns?   Are they similar to a buffalo, or a longhorn?
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 05, 2006, 05:09:00 AM
Huntersim, my wife will flat not come in the shop when I'm grinding horn.  She even suggested I stink and should shower before coming to bed just because I have horn dust on me.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Timo on January 05, 2006, 06:54:00 AM
A few around here farm them john, but not in great numbers. They are some kind of exotic.Their horns are huge!

Got a blackpowder friend that make tea pitchers and glass sets from them, scrimshaws them up,some of his are 9"-10" dia at the base.And there is plenty of length. I'll give him a call.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Tom Leemans on January 05, 2006, 09:40:00 AM
I told my friend that the next time he goes down to his Iowa property, stop down the road and cut the horns off the Texas longhorn while he's sleeping.

Where did you get pre-cut slabs Mike?
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Aeronut on January 05, 2006, 10:11:00 AM
Here's a link for Watusi cattle that shows a good picture.

 http://cattle-today.com/Watusi.htm
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: KellyG on January 05, 2006, 02:49:00 PM
Can you say Holy Cows.  :eek:  

John,
Do you think one could splice two pieces to gather and sinew the back, for a horn composite that would produce enough weight to Hunt with.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: wingnut on January 05, 2006, 06:03:00 PM
I got the slabs from Peter Cua in the Phillipines.

Send me an email if you want his address.

John they comes as long as 25"

I figured with tip overlays 23 was perfect.

Mike
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Richard Saffold on January 05, 2006, 08:20:00 PM
Good show John!, that oryx at the zoo is getting a tranq dart and a manicure.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: John Sturtevant on January 06, 2006, 08:40:00 AM
Kelly, if I understand your question…do you mean a bow entirely of horn with a sinew back?
If this is what you mean…I believe you would end up with a bow with so much mass that it would be extremely inefficient.    
In fact I made one once w/o the sinew, although I’m not sure why.  Would have made a great club….but clubs are not legal to hunt deer with in Iowa.  
Fortunately it broke and provided me some horn pieces for other projects.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: wingnut on January 06, 2006, 08:49:00 AM
John,

I've made my horn lams at .070 and .080 on two different bows.  They were in the .050 to .060 range by the time I tillered and sanded them I'm sure.  They were smokers!!

I'm going to take a good look at this horn about ripping it.  Might get a bow outta each plank.


Mike
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: BobCo 1965 on January 06, 2006, 08:57:00 AM
That's really cool. Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Oryx horn belly, pictorial
Post by: Tom Leemans on January 06, 2006, 10:01:00 AM
Thanks fellas. I won't repeat the reply my friend had for me when I told him to get the horns off of "Tex". Ol' boy has at least 3 feet per side, prolly closer to 40 inches.