How to finish river/water buffalo horn?

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MyKidsDad

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I searched and found a few threads of pens made from river/water buffalo horn but didn't see any information about how they were finished. Is any sort of finish required or do you just polish them similar to an acrylic blank?

Anyone have any experience with the horn that Penn State sells or should I be considered another source for material?
 
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ed4copies

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When the river buffalo kicked the bucket, he didn't know PSI would beat CSUSA to his horn!!!

(Translated: All water buffalo is created equal)

No finish needed, Turn, Sand, remove scratches.
I polish NOW, but when I did a LOT of this horn, I used plastic polish. Over time, nearly every one has cracked.
 

its_virgil

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Anti-crack polish:biggrin::biggrin: I stopped making pens from water buffalo horn because, as Ed noted, most all of them cracked... I think I must have beat Ed at this because all of the ones I made cracked. I win Ed. My take on water buffalo horn is that there are too many other nice materials to use to continue using the stuff that is not suited for pens.
do a good turn daily!
Don

I searched and found a few threads of pens made from river/water buffalo horn but didn't see any information about how they were finished. Is any sort of finish required or do you just polish them similar to an acrylic blank?
 

jskeen

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you will probably want to be very specific what critter donated the "horn" for your pen as well. The term "Water Buffalo" is very generic, and can be use for any one of several critters from at least two continents.

African or Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) horn is almost always black, with occasional thin white stripes running through it. It is often thick enough to be sold in rounds or rectangles close to 1 inch thick.

Asian water buffalo, ( bubalus et all) varies from black to very light grey, and the horn is usually very thin, and hollow to within less than two inches of the tip. Therefore it is seldom sold as solid rounds.

I have worked with both, and the black cape buffalo horn is workable and not too odoriferous. The asian buffalo is almost impossible to get even one pen per horn out of, and smells incredibly foul.
 

ed4copies

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Well James,

Let's just say every time I have worked with ANY horn or antler, in my basement shop, I have gotten significant "feedback" (remembering we are family friendly) from the upper region of the house.

Remember the "feedbacker" (family friendly again) is also a large quantity Polyresin pourer----and we all know that sh,,, stuff don't stink!!!!!
 

ed4copies

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You can only stabilize things that are somewhat porous. At one time I asked a very well respected stabilizer about doing this, he replied he had tried it and no significant stabilizer entered the horn.

In short, I doubt there will be any difference, perhaps with the exception of cost.

You can always learn the same way all of us did--make a bunch of them--when they crack, YOU will KNOW the answer.
 

Chasper

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I soaked one in water for a week or so before turning it, someone told me that would prevent it from cracking. I suspect that at best the soaking just delayed the cracking.
 

jskeen

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Well James,

Let's just say every time I have worked with ANY horn or antler, in my basement shop, I have gotten significant "feedback" (remembering we are family friendly) from the upper region of the house.

Remember the "feedbacker" (family friendly again) is also a large quantity Polyresin pourer----and we all know that sh,,, stuff don't stink!!!!!
Well, My shop is out in the yard, so I don't have to worry about smelling up the house, but the black cape buffalo horn just smelled bad. That grey Indian water buffalo pen came very close to actually making me shut off the lathe while drilling to go evacuate my lunch, which was a first for me. And dry sanding was almost as bad, but fortunately most of the receptors in my nose had burned out at that point, so all I had to deal with was the nasty taste in my mouth. Fortunately, it's alcohol soluble, so a short single malt took care of most of it, and by the end of the second one, I didn't much care about what little was left. :)
 

phillywood

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Couldn't you conclude that it stinks because of the buffalo put a curse on his horn for being yanked out after he was killed, like OK you kill me and I am going to teach you a lesson when you turn my horn to pieces.
that may be it. Plus, don't you think there are enough materials for us to turn, than stinky horns? like you ever hear anyone turning a skunk bone? I don't think so.
 

Rfturner

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I have had success with I believe was the Indian buffalo horn from PSI BUT I took about four to five times longer making it for each step. I had to drill slow using some of my rem oil (type of gun cleaner/lubricant) to cool the blanks while drilling. My shop is in my garage and my garage door was open all the way and that stuff still stinks the only thing I have found that smelled worse was PR casting and Burning human flesh (went to india in 2008 trust me it does not smell good). The reason that often the horn can be brittle is that it is made of protein, like your hair. If the animal had a poor diet then its horn will be much more brittle.

To finally answer your question, I just sand and buff on horn it will retain a natural shine.
 

phillywood

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OK, Eric, Don, Ed , and ....... you guys need to enlighten me about this horn bus. why is it that you guys are so attracted to it, if it stinks? and it's hard to work with. Is it because your customers asking you for it; or,is it the cowboy thingy?
Any elaborations welcomed.
 

Smitty37

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learn learn learn

Thanks, Buffalo horn has joined the list of stuff that make up my "do not turn" list. Some folks seem to NEED to try turning anything that will spin on a lathe whether or not it turns well, if it goes round and round, they'll turn it into something.
 

ed4copies

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STRANGE??? Motivation???

OK, Eric, Don, Ed , and ....... you guys need to enlighten me about this horn bus. why is it that you guys are so attracted to it, if it stinks? and it's hard to work with. Is it because your customers asking you for it; or,is it the cowboy thingy?
Any elaborations welcomed.
Well, the real reason: It makes a GREAT LOOKING pen!!!


(For a few days, weeks or months, until it cracks!!)
 

its_virgil

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A blank with slight wisps of white streaks makes a really striking pen. I think rhodium or platinum metal parts look classy with WB horn. But, I've only made 5 or 6...none in several years...because the stuff cracks. The horn turns well and I don't consider it to be offensive odor wise.

But, as I said in an earlier reply, there are too many other nice materials to use to make pens. Sod, why use a material that cracks...except snakewood, of course.

Do a good turn daily!
Don

OK, Eric, Don, Ed , and ....... you guys need to enlighten me about this horn bus. why is it that you guys are so attracted to it, if it stinks? and it's hard to work with. Is it because your customers asking you for it; or,is it the cowboy thingy?
Any elaborations welcomed.
 

Rudy Vey

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I am turning a lot of shaving brush handles from Black Buffalo horn, and the recommendation I give with the brush for upkeep is to rub some oil from time to time in the horn. Horn, similar to our hair and fingernails, looses its natural oils when used and handled. Especially shaving brushes have a lot contact with water and soap. So oil the handle every two weeks a bit, the oil I recommend to use is Neats Foot oil.

I never understood why it is recommended to soak the horn in water. It adsorbs some of it, swells a bit, get turned and then over time the water will evaporate and the horn will shrink slightly. Shrinkage means most-likely also cracking. But then, I never turned a pen from horn, only brush handles.
 

bekeeper

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I should have read these post before I bought 4 blanks from PSI. I just came up to check the best method to finish. Ha Ha. My daughter comes this week to pick up this promised pen for an important gift. You guys reminded me of some guy years ago that turned poison Ivory. He got all suited up in a hazmat suit. Just does not seem worth it.
 

its_virgil

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Give it a try....maybe you will have pieces with the non-cracker gene. The pens are quite nice. You might seal the ends with thin CA...worth a try. Good luck.
Do a good turn daily!
Don

I should have read these post before I bought 4 blanks from PSI. I just came up to check the best method to finish. Ha Ha. My daughter comes this week to pick up this promised pen for an important gift. You guys reminded me of some guy years ago that turned poison Ivory. He got all suited up in a hazmat suit. Just does not seem worth it.
 
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