Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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


5 Responses to “My New (Old) Horner’s Bench”
  1. Ricky Roberts says:

    Rick, Good looking project, very functional.

    Ricky Roberts

  2. Earl Martin says:


    I saw your new/old Horner’s Bench and it occurred to me that I could make one.

    In researching the history of powder horns I came across a web site that shows a powder horn establishment depicting the workers sitting down (see attached.) http://home.earthlink.net/~richguild/html/powder_horn_history.html

    Hope you don’t mind if I borrow your bench idea and combine it with a collapsible camp bench I saw in the James Townsend catalog (page 64) to make my own version of a Horner’s Bench. (36x14x17)

    Earl Martin

    • Rick Sheets says:

      Hey Buddy,
      Please use or respin my design as you want. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
      I really like the Diderot illustration in the link you sent! Baskets of horns, just what a horner wants for Christmas. I wonder what horn objects they were making.


  3. Rick, I’m not much of a horn maker (have made a few and know it is a lot of work). Holding the horn securely is the most difficult aspect of building. Your use of the cobbler’s bench is a great idea, and if one cannot be found, would not be difficult to make from scratch. Adding a pad on the seat for my boney old butt would be a plus.

    • Rick Sheets says:

      Hey Fred,
      I will be making a new post soon on my new bench arrangement. My new bench is based on the Denis Diderot 1700′s engraving of a shaving horse that was used to hold horn in a professional horn workshop. I appreciate you taking the time to comment on my posting.
      And, by the way, I do not need any padding on the bench.
      Your friend,
      Rick Sheets

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