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Garry Keown

Handle material

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After a great deal of time and expense the box finally arrived from South Africa with the giraffe bone and impala horn. Much of this is preordered for 7 giraffe bone and three impala horn handled knives but expect to have sufficient left for other orders in the near future. 

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I can smell it already! :D

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I decided to cut the giraffe bone (or most of it) today to get enough for the knives that are ordered. All of the bones had one end cut off (to facillitate the process for export) so I marked the bone off in 5 inch lengths and cut them with the metal cutting bandsaw. 

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The knob end still had some of the porpous honeycomb type bone and was not usable but I got 4 good engths from each of the arger bones. One side of all the bones was too thin for the knife handles but may work for pocketknives which I do not do. 

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I have a guage for the other bandsaw that I use for cutting the scale thicknesses so set to (having the apropriate breathing gear on as there is a lot of dust made and floating in the air. 

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I managed to get three pieces plus core waste from the larger bones but just two from the smaller ones. 

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With enough cut for these ones. From the right is a Lion knife, 6 Safari knives and a Light Hunter. The last Safari knife (marked on the taped blade is to be this years knife giveaway and will have curve backed buffalo horn bolsters where the rest will be full giraffe bone handles. 

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Having done that and having three of the Light hunters to do with the Impala horn handles I had a serious look at and some research on the usual handles done with this material and many are in fact bone jiged to resemble the horn so I found where the old time horners(those who work with the horn) would heat the horn to near 350F and it would become pliable so I did that and have it clamped flat so will see in the morning how it has reacted to this procedure. The orders are for handles from the horn that Tony had hunted and wanted for his sons so as there was a set of extra horns in the box I cut these first to check the process.

Cutting the appropriate length from the smaller set 

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Splitting them lengthwise and removing the core which is dried and loose inside. 

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Ready for heating and clamping flat 

 

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7 minutes ago, Garry Keown said:

Having done that and having three of the Light hunters to do with the Impala horn handles I had a serious look at and some research on the usual handles done with this material and many are in fact bone jiged to resemble the horn so I found where the old time horners(those who work with the horn) would heat the horn to near 350F and it would become pliable so I did that and have it clamped flat so will see in the morning how it has reacted to this procedure.

 

Garry, I'm fascinated to see your results, I tried boiling Oryx to achieve the same but they all cracked.  How did you heat up the horn if I may ask?

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17 minutes ago, Gerhard Gerber said:

Garry, I'm fascinated to see your results, I tried boiling Oryx to achieve the same but they all cracked.  How did you heat up the horn if I may ask?

I put them in the oven  at 100 C for 30 minutes and clamped them flat. The morning will tell me whether it has worked or not. I heard creaking (hope it was not cracking) and thought it may be the edges scraping against the wood as they were pushed outward as the clamping force came down.

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Hi there Garry. I do hope these came out flat and I for one am interested too! I’ve tried antler and other bone, boiling, steaming, etc. without success. However a hollow item as this might work and I have a source to get some if yours proves out!!

Good success to you!

Gary LT

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Garry, the horners I know use hot oil.  Soak the horn in 300-degree F oil for half an hour, then clamp flat.  That's for cow horn, dunno if it would work on impala seeing as it's a lot thicker.

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17 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

Garry, the horners I know use hot oil.  Soak the horn in 300-degree F oil for half an hour, then clamp flat.  That's for cow horn, dunno if it would work on impala seeing as it's a lot thicker.

I too haven't worked with horn this way but have had success flattening ivory by boiling in vinegar.

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4 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Garry, the horners I know use hot oil.  Soak the horn in 300-degree F oil for half an hour, then clamp flat.  That's for cow horn, dunno if it would work on impala seeing as it's a lot thicker.

The smaller horn is reasonaly thin Alan and the hot oil sounds like a very workable way to do this as being a wet heat rather than a dry heat may help to stop cracking etc. I have heard another maker say about  steamed heat as @Gary LT did

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First stage completed sucessfully with only a short crack at the end that will not effect the length needed for a knife handle. There was some springback from the 9mm thick they were clamped (down from about 16mm) to but as this is old and very dry horn I am going to boil it next in black dyed water and re-clamp to fix the thickness needed. It was sugested that I use oil to boil/heat in but my concern is that there may be oil penetration into the horn and conflict with the epoxy

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Good call, the oil would indeed mess with the glue joints.  

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