Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Please see Rick Sheets’ Website, “PatriotHorns.com”

December 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Horns by Rick Sheets, Powder Horns

I broke down and made my own website. Any future horn work done by me will be posted there and not here on BlackPowder411.com.

Please do have a look and like me on Facebook if you would.


Best regards,
Rick Sheets

WW2 Commemorative “Campaign” Horn by Rick Sheets

August 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Horns by Rick Sheets, Powder Horns

Here is a commemorative “campaign” style horn I made as a gift to a WW2 Veteran named Albertie Wall Jr. I have become friends with his grandson Ryan, who is a historic interpreter at Bennett Place State Historic Site in Durham, NC. At the last Memorial Day celebration at the historic site, I met Mr. Wall. He was a staff sergeant and an air policeman with the 81st Tactical Air Wing. He is truly a humble man and is representative of The Greatest Generation. I love these old veterans.

So here is the horn. It is loosely based on the French & Indian War “Lake George” style of powder horns. Of course the dragon is not very period correct, but used in a commemorative, modern-era horn I think it works.  I hope you enjoy my work.

Thanks for reading,
Rick Sheets

Kris Polizzi Custom Weaving


Kris Polizzi at the Lancaster Show

I met Kris Polizzi a few years ago at Dixon’s Gunmakers Fair and I was struck by her tightly woven straps. Subsequently she joined the Honourable Company of Horners and I have gotten to know her as an active and engaged member as well as a weaver of wonderful straps.

Scott Morrison is a well known horner in our Pacific Northwest and was asked to ruminate about Kris. He submitted this…

As a horn maker, I am always looking for the right strap to complement and complete a project. I have found that Kris Polizzi from Pennsylvania, makes excellent straps that will complete any project.
I first became aware of Kris and her work a year ago at the West Coast Horn Fair in Vancouver, Washington. Kris had donated one of her straps as a raffle prize which I was fortunate enough to win at the banquet on Saturday night. That day I had discussed a custom horn for a friend and when I picked up Kris’ strap I immediately knew that it had to be incorporated into the project. I was impressed with the quality of the strap; it was very well made with a historic looking pattern and would fit well with the project.
My friend participated in the David Thompson Columbia River Brigade this past summer. The brigade was a joint Canada/USA canoe trek commemorating the 200th anniversary of Northwest Company’s explorer David Thompson and his trip down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean in 1811. My friend carried the horn with Kris’ strap with him on the brigade and received many favorable comments on it.
When I was working on a French & Indian period engraved and lobed horn, I thought of Kris’ straps. I looked through the patterns on her Facebook page and chose pattern number 61. Kris worked with me on this and wove the strap to the length that I needed. (See Kris’ Facebook page here.)
Kris has over 100 patterns available to choose from with more seemingly everyday and a variety of colors. She is willing to work with the customer and customize the strap to their specifications. Though I have yet to meet Kris in person, I consider her a friend and a great craftsman. You cannot go wrong with her straps.

-Scott Morrison

I agree with Scott totally. I have two of her straps and plan to buy more.

You can find some straps made by Kris for sale on this link.Kris Polizzi Straps

Building the Southern Banded Horn – A Book Review

Scott Sibley on the range in Wyoming.

Everybody involved in our hobby of making powder horns knows of Scott and Cathy Sibley for their carved and engraved 18th and early 19th Century style powder horns. And if one wants to build such a horn the go-to book is “Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn.”

I love that book! When Scott and Cathy came out with “Building the Southern Banded Horn,” I had to have it. My first observation is that the new book compares very well with their previous one. If you liked the color photos and clear, concise descriptions in “Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn,” you will not be disappointed in their new book, “Building the Southern Banded Horn.” The quality is great in this 125 page soft-bound book.

As a Prideful Southerner and horner, I like to think I know a thing or two about Southern banded horns. I have had the privilege in handling a few originals, seeing many and being tutored by some wonderful horn turners in the Southern tradition of banded horn making. While this book was not written by a Southerner, it could have been!  So I must say, while it would not hurt to be Southern, it is not a requirement to turn a Southern Banded Horn.

Right off, I like the fact that there is no “outboard turning” in this book. That is a big deal as a lathe outfitted to do outboard turning with very slow rpm settings is very expensive.  What that means is you can do all of your turning with a typical lathe with a Nova type chuck.

As we have come to expect from the authors, the reader is carried step-by-step from a tool list to the completed project. Wisely, Scott and Cathy did not repeat their antiquing process in this book; they used the space for new information.

I must mention that there is a picture of a very easily made accessory that holds the horn tip between the chuck and the dead-center. This is makes for a scar-free horn tip. This book has just the right amount of detail.

The book has many full-color photos of many original Southern horns as well as a gallery of Sibley built horns. (By the way, sometimes the Sibleys sell their finished horns online <<click here>> to see if any are available.)

I heartily recommend this book!

Thanks for reading,
Rick Sheets

1132 RD 7
POWELL, WY 82435

To order the book online, <<click here>>

My New (Old) Horner’s Bench

March 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Living History, Powder Horns

If you are a horner and attend events and like to show a little horn work, you have thought about having a portable honer’s bench. The only problem is there really is not a true example of such a thing in history. We know our ancestors liked to sit to work when they could as one finds cobbler’s benches, broom maker’s benches and the ever-present shaving horse. But no horner’s bench. (If I have that wrong, PLEASE send me pictures.)

I was at the Salvation Army the other day and found a cobbler’s bench. No, not an antique, but a 1960ish coffee table made in the form of a cobbler’s bench. Fourteen bucks. How could I resist!

I used my organic approach of building to outfit it to do horn work. (Organic= Create the design as I go using what I have on hand.)

Fortunately the cobbler’s bench was over-built by the fellow who made it and it holds my weight easily. It is so comfortable and practical you would not believe it.

The horner's bench is modifyed with three holes for attachments.

Horners bench has a built in drawer.

All of the accessories fit in the drawer.

The horners bench has a horn holder and other features.

The accessories.

The cow horn holder is wedged in place.

The tapered stops and horn holder are jammed with a piece of oak.

This arrangement makes for a very solid horn holder.

You can change the angle of attack by moving the horn holder and the stops.

Steel pin acts as a lathe for horn work.

Jeff Bibb calls this a poor man's lathe. The transverse pin is put in the horn spout, while you turn the horn use a file to round out the spout easily.

The sandbag platform is jammed into place.

Here is the platform with a couple of sandbags in place. Works great.

My new, old horner’s bench may not be absolutely period correct, but it does look plausibly defensible as something that could have existed. (I sound like a politician.) It works wonderfully and I am very happy with it.

Thanks for reading,
Rick Sheets

Canvas Bag made by David Robinson

This squirrel hunting rig was made by David Robinson for his .32 caliber rifle. It is a double bag of Mr. Robinson’s design and made from heavy cotton canvas with three coatings of beeswax, trimmed with deer skin and sewn with waxed linen thread. The pouch is lined with a vintage cotton cloth. The strap is buff leather and has a forged buckle and a buff leather patch knife sheath attached. The pouch measures 10 inches in width by 11 inches tall. The horn was made by Mark E. Elliott, who is a well known Virginia gunstocker and horner. The horn is 2 1/2 inches in diameter at the butt and 10 3/4 inches around the outside curve.

I really like pouches in canvas. I am sure this one will last a lifetime.

Thanks for reading,
Rick Sheets

The Hartley Horn Drawings: A Collection of Powder Horn Drawings by Robert M. Hartley. A book review.

November 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Book Review, Powder Horns, Product Review

The Hartley Horn Drawings: A Collection of Powder Horn Drawings by Robert M. Hartley
79 Pages
11″ X 8-1/2″
Full-color illustrations and photographs
Presented by The Honourable Company of Horners
Published by the Scurlock Publishing Company

This review of The Hartley Horn Drawings (more commonly called The Hartley Book) is by me, a novice horn maker and the webmaster of The Honourable Company of Horners website. I know more about web design than horns, but I am doing my darndest to close that gap! And this book helps immensely.

What do illuminated script, calligraphy, folk art and history have in common? They all come together in a practical object used by our ancestors in the form of an engraved powder horn! Robert Hartley was inspired by these unique objects used by our ancestors.

Robert Hartley was a prolific collector of Americana and antiques and an amateur historian. He saw a need in the mid-1930s to document French and Indian War powder horns. His technique was to copy the complete three dimensional horns as flat drawings. (Imagine peeling-off a product label from a can and displaying it flat. That is not a great description, but I hope you get the idea.) In the process of copying the horns, Mr. Hartley created his own art that we get to enjoy today.

In the mid-1940′s, as least forty of these powder horn drawings were given to the Margaret Reaney Memorial Library in the Village of St. Johnsville, New York. There they were conserved, but they had not been published.

John Proud, a Master Horner, became interested in the drawings and thought they deserved to be seen by everyone in the form of a book. The result is a 79 page book with color illustration and photographs of the actual horns in a few instances. The book is pre-pended with a history of The Honourable Company of Horners and an informative article on how to render your own powder horn drawing.

This publication has become one of my new favorites. I highly recommend this for your library or as a gift for the lover of history.

Thanks for reading,
Rick Sheets
By the way, please see the review written by my friend, Rich Pierce, as it appears on the HCH Blog. Click here to see it.
To purchase the book, click here.

The Hartley Horn Drawings. F&I horns are drawn “flat.”

James City County Militia encampment at the Yorktown Victory Celebration 2010

The Yorktown Victory Center delivers on its promise to inform the visitor of the collective American and French defeat of the British under the command of George Washington on October 19, 1781.

I had the pleasure of visiting during the Yorktown Victory Celebration on October 16th. The museum invited Revolutionary War re-enactors to display camp life, cooking, fife & drum music and militia drill. I was awed by the spot-on impressions and the exact nature of the participants.

I spent a bit of time with the James City County Militia. These folks are actually a Roger’s Rangers Battalion that also provides a Revolutionary War impression when they need to.  If their Roger’s Rangers portrayal is as good as their Revolutionary War impression, I want to experience it!

Dennis Loba Militia Private

Dennis Loba portrays a private in the James City County Militia. Dennis described the use of a flintlock fowler by this member of the Militia. Note the forestock is cut-back to accept a bayonet. Dennis’ powder horn was made by Lee Larkin, who is a master horner with The Honourable Company of Horners (www.hornguild.org).

Bruce Roberts Camp Artisan

Bruce Roberts is the camp artisan. If his company needs a horn scrimmed, a sheath stitched, a flintlock made or anything bodged at all Bruce is their man. Bruce’s alter ego is Gideon Lott.

Gideon Lott His Horn 1756

Now this is a neat powder measure arrangement. The measure is on a thong threaded through a hole in the stopper. You cannot lose your stopper!

William Blair lights his pipe.

William Blair’s persona is that of a common soldier, today he is a camp cook. Note his patched over-shirt protecting his clothing.

There are about thirty members of the Jaeger’s Battalion in Virginia, see their website at www.rogersrangers.com.

The website for the Yorktown Victory Center is www.historyisfun.org.

Old Salem, NC a haven for old-time gunsmithing and Moravian History

My girlfriend, Pam, and I went to Old Salem for a fun day In September. It was a beautiful day with low humidity for the Piedmont, which is always welcome. We hit the MESDA (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts) and various artisan and craftsman venues offered there.

Drew Neill is the shoemaker. Drew was kind enough to tell me about the brogan or work shoe of the 1840’s period. Here is Drew explaining how the “last” would be built up with leather to be the same shape as the customer’s foot so the finished shoe would be a custom fit.

As a fan of such things as antiques, Moravian and North Carolina history, flintlock rifles, leather working and wood turning where else would I want to be on a beautiful North Carolina day? (And I want to thank Pam for never rushing me though museums or living history events.)

Here is just a little bit about the history of Old Salem. It was founded as Salem in 1766 by the Moravians, who were ex-Europeans who came down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania, to establish a religious community. While Old Salem is not an operational religious community today, it retains its Moravian flavor through the painstaking restoration of the original buildings, the staff in period clothing and their sharing of the town’s history.

Our Old-Salem day began at the MESDA. Our guide through the museum was Jenny Garwood. Jenny was conversant on anything I asked about. The museum has many period interiors from simple to quite fancy antique southern homes. You begin the tour in a simple room with simple furnishings and wind your way through doors leading from one reassembled interior to another. The rooms are filled with antiques and art that are appropriate to each room’s period of history. The tour ends with seeing the MESDA’s collection of longrifles and shooting accouterments. You will see super rifles from makers such as Kennedy and Vogler.

No pictures are allowed in the museum so you won’t see any here.

Here is the exterior of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. (Copyright pamlappegardphotography.com)

Bill Bailey is a real-deal gunsmith working in the Vogler Gunshop across from the MESDA. Bill’s historical impression is of an 1840’s gunmaker. He nails it! (Copyright pamlappegardphotography.com)

Bill Bailey tells the history of the Vogler Gunshop. (Copyright pamlappegardphotography.com)

Here is Bill's personal powder horn and bag. (Copyright pamlappegardphotography.com)

Blake Stevenson is the guy in charge of the Vogler Gunshop. Blake is a hands-on interpreter as well as the department head. Here is Blake with his copy of a Vogler rifle (with the iconic eagle patchbox). It is a shooter and has not been babied. It could pass for an original.

Here is Blake’s Personal horn with his own engraving. He says that his scratching is better these days, but I really like the folksy quality of this engraving.

I am lucky that Old Salem is just an hour and a half from me so I can go back soon. There are other artisan shops that I have not written about, but I will when I go back next year.

Here is the link to Old Salem. www.oldsalem.org

Thanks for reading,
Rick Sheets

John Shorb’s Personal Pouch and Horn

John Shorb knows horns! He is a Member of the Honourable Company of Horners and owner of Powder Horns and More. He is also a guest
John Shorb drilling horn tips.

author for BlackPowder411.com. Here is what John has to say about a personal pouch and horn of his creation:

“In 2001, I was getting read to go on a buffalo hunt and I decided I needed a good hunting bag that would compliment my English Sporting Rifle.  So, one afternoon, I sat down and started thinking about what features I wanted it to have.  I didn’t want it to be too big, but I didn’t want it to not be able to carry what I wanted, either.  It had to have a tie down flap and a belt loop as well so it wouldn’t be flopping around on my side.  I wanted it to carry a few speed loaders and some basic stuff, as well.  And it had to have a pocket on the strap that would carry a powder measure and a capper and a loop to carry a short starter as well.
So, I designed it with an accordion fold in the gusset so it could expand or contract according to the amount of stuff I was carrying.  It is built with a generous belt loop on the back and the strap is easily removable so it can even be carried as a belt bag.  The double pocket on the strap carries a Treso 40-200 grain adjustable measure and a Tedd Cash Musket Capper.  Inside the pouch are three loops to carry speed loaders in the main area and a back pocket to keep cleaning patches and a little tin of grease in.  A loop is sewn on the face of the bag to carry a musket size nipple wrench.  It is covered by the flap, which is secured with a lace that ties around a pewter button.  While hunting, I carry the speed loaders, an 800 grain round brass flask, a 2 OZ bottle of cleaning solvent, 3 extra round ball, 3 extra patches and 3 extra cushion wads so I can reload the speed loaders if needed.  I also carry a Leatherman’s tool and a Hawken Shop Flinter’s tool as well as a ball puller in the caliber I am shooting and a brass “T” handle for the ramrod.
In carrying on with the English motif, I discovered that Track of the Wolf sells an English style powder valve, similar to the old Dixon type.  I got one of those and affixed it to a horn.  I turned a maple base plug for it and installed a brass finial.  I feel the horn style is ideal for use with an English Sporting Rifle or a shotgun.”
I for one really like John’s personal rig. It is truly custom and tailored to a very specific function. John’s pouch is now available in a commercial version from October Country Muzzleloading and John can provide the same style horn from Powder Horns and More.

Thanks for reading!,
Rick Sheets

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