I am afraid that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted my supply of polished horns for powder horns. I currently cannot get any more horns from my most trusted supplier. I have small to medium sized horns, mostly left handed, suitable for applied-tip horns, but that is pretty much it. I do not have suitable horns for larger, early powder horns, either carved throat or applied-tip. I am told that more horns will not be imported until the shows open up again, most likely in 2021. I am very sorry for the inconvenience.
I can still get leather for bags and am happy to continue to provide those.
Given the current unrest and uncertainty over race, as a Christian and a person working a twelve step program of recovery, I have felt challenged and called to write on my experience with racism. This is my personal story, but I call on all white southerners, like myself, to examine their own story with racism. For me, this is a first step in making a living amends.
I am a 58 year old white male born into the Jim Crow south in the capital of the Confederacy. At home I was told that God loved everyone and that I was to treat everyone the same, as I would want to be treated. However, as a young child, I had to be taught that there were white and colored rest rooms and that I was only to use the white facilities. In the process, it was also communicated that the white facilities were better. A young child might be forgiven for concluding that white people were better than colored people and as a white child so was I; especially, since that idea was reinforced in so many other ways.
Black people were not a part of my early life except as servants of one sort or another; janitors, cafeteria workers, and nurses for example. They were the people who took care of me. They weren’t my friends or my parent’s friends. In downtown Richmond, according to my mother, white folks had free range of downtown everyday except Saturday. Saturday was reserved for black folks to do their shopping at the white owned stores like Miller & Rhodes or Thalhimers. Also black folks lived and worked on the north side of Broad Street and white folks lived and worked on the south side of Broad Street. I can’t remember going to the north side of the street except to drive through or visit the Miller & Rhodes warehouse with my father until I was an adult working where black neighborhoods had been systematically removed to make way for the Coliseum, Convention Center, and various office buildings, including one in which I worked.
I was an adult, working, before I had any real interaction with anybody who was black. By then, the damage had been done. I was polite and professional in my interaction with black colleagues in order to do my job, but I can’t say I was comfortable with them or that they became real friends. On the street, I would be anxious when approaching black men, particularly young black men, usually precipitating some form of distancing, or rolling up my windows if driving. Somewhere it had been communicated to me and internalized that black men were a threat.
When frustrated or challenged by a black man, I would find myself getting unduly angry, angrier than if I had been similarly challenged by a white man. I had internalized the idea that black men were supposed to be subservient to me, and was enraged when they dare step out of the role I expected them to inhabit. I suspect that I am not the only white male with this attitude, and hence the prevalence of the brutalization of black men by the police.
This is why, for me, black lives must matter. Of course, all lives matter, but black lives matter more in this case because I owe them a living amends for my past attitudes and behaviors even though the expression of my racism may have been subtle. I suspect, however, that it did not go unnoticed by the black folks I encountered. I suspect that they were all too used to dealing with white men like me. At least my racism is now out in the open. I apologize for it and all the harm I may have done over the years to my black and brown brothers and sisters. May God keep my racism before my eyes and help me to remove it from my character. Until he does, black lives matter and I choose to make amends.
On this page I have some southern multi-banded powder horns. These types of horns are typically found in North Carolina and south. The single banded horns are covered on the Virginia Applied Tip Powder Horns page. All these horns have applied tips with most being screw-tips. If you see something you like, use the Contact page to get in touch with me, and we can discuss making you a similar horn.
This medium sized horn (Horn #50) is a traditional right hand carry inspired by the horns found in North Carolina. It is about 14″ around the outside curve and about 11 1/4″ tip to tip. The walnut base plug is 2 1/4″ in diameter hollowed out about 3/4 of it’s length. The applied-tip is Axis deer antler. The stopper is walnut.
This little horn (Horn #47) is a traditional left hand horn, but can be carried either way. It is about 12″ around the outside curve and 10″ tip to tip. The walnut base plug is 2.03″ in diameter and hollowed out about 3/4 of it’s length. The applied-tip is Axis deer antler. The stopper is walnut.
The following horn (Horn #42) is historically a right hand carry, but can easily be carried either way. It is about 14″ finial to tip, not including the stopper, around the outside curve. Tip to tip it is 11.5″. The base plug is 2.41″ in diameter. The base plug is hollowed out about 3/4 of its length. The Axis deer antler tip is pinned on. The base plug and stopper are both Black Walnut. There is a slight gap between the base band and the base plug, but it matches the grooves in the base plug.
The horn below is a particularly small one. It is pretty straight and could easily be, historically, either a right or a left hand carry; about 11″ around the outside curve staple to stopper. The base plug is a little less than 2 1/4″ in diameter. It has a screw-tip with a female thread. The base plug is hollowed out about 3/4 of its length.
The following horn (Horn #31) is historically a left hand carry, but is setup as a right hand carry. It can be carried either side without a problem. It is about 13 1/2″ staple to stopper around the outside curve. The base plug is a little less than 2 1/4″ in diameter. It has a screw-tip with a female thread. The base plug is hollowed out about 3/4 of its length.
The following horn (Horn #32) is historically a left hand carry, but is marked assuming a right hand carry. It can be carried on either side. It is about 15″ button to stopper around the outside curve. The base plug is a little more than 2 3/8″ in diameter. It has a screw-tip with a female thread. The base plug is hollowed out about 1/2 of its length. There is a slight gap between the base ring and the base plug, but the horn is air tight. This horn is also a little on the heavy side at 7.4 oz. All that being said, this is still a very nice looking little horn.
The following horn (Horn #33) is a big one inspired by some early Virginia horns in Jay Hopkin’s book. I think it would work well with my early Virginia shot pouch. It is historically a right hand carry, but I think it would work better as a left hand carry. It can be carried on either side. It is about 17″ button to stopper around the outside curve. The base plug is a little more than 2 5/8″ in diameter. It has an applied tip made up from horn and antler. The base plug is hollowed out about 3/4 of its length. This horn is actually very light weight for its size. It weighs 6.8 oz.
All these multi-banded, applied tip horns are priced at $275 plus shipping for a bespoke horn. Availability of any particular style, size or carry side of powder horn depends on my stock of raw horns. If you see something you like, use the Contact page to get in touch with me, and we can discuss making you a similar horn.
Shipping/insurance on a single multi-banded horn is $25 . VA residents will have to pay an additional 5.3% to 7% sales tax depending on their locality.
Right or Left Hand Carry?
What is right or left hand carry? Simply, it is the side of the body on which a horn is intended to be worn. Historically, a curve of the tip to the left as viewed from the top is a right hand carry horn and also from the right side of the cow. A curve of the tip to the right would historically be a left hand carry horn and from the left side of the cow. If there is no significant curve of the horn as viewed from the top, then the horn can be easily worn on either side with no conflict. Most horns have so little curve it really doesn’t matter much and the modern pattern of carry is frequently opposite of the historical pattern.
Carrying a horn on the same side of the body as it came from the cow results in the tip pointing toward the body and the base pointing away from the body. I also like the base of the horn to point to ward the body, as do many modern wearers, so I usually use the opposite side horn and rotate it about 90 degrees so that both the tip and the base of the horn point into the body. This makes a horn from the left side of the cow into a powder horn you can carry on the right side of the body. This is my personal preference, but not generally historically correct. Historically, powder horns were usually carried on the same side of the body as they came from on the cow. If you want to be completely historically correct, you need to understand that.
Sometimes a horn that is technically a left hand horn might wrap around the body better on the right hand side and vice versa. So, in describing a horn, I will tell you whether a horn is historically a left hand or a right hand. Then I will tell you on which side the horn was built to be carried, if it is different. I will also try to include a photo from the top of the horn so you can see the curve for yourself. On which side you actually carry a horn, that is up to you.
I just wanted to post a quick note about leather care. Leather dries out and cracks over time. I recently saw an old bag of mine that had been put away for several years and had cracked badly. Fortunately, the leather had not cracked all the way through and the bag could be saved. It just looks like it is a hundred years old now. That was not the look I was going for.
To maintain the appearance and functionality of a shot pouch, hunting bag, or any other leather goods, I recommend that it be oiled at least once a year; every six months would be better. I oil my leather goods with a high quality Mink Oil. Some people prefer Neatsfoot oil I think it gets a little gummy, but that might depend on the quality of the oil you use. As to the Mink Oil, I use Fiebings Mink Oil Paste.
Apply the oil/paste liberally with a rag and rub it in all the nooks and crannies and into the stitches. You don’t want to leave any white paste. After you have rubbed the paste in good, wipe off any excess. Then brush vigorously with a stiff horse hair brush to a sheen. Your leather item is now good for another six months.
I made this shot pouch and powder horn for a Virginian headed south to the Texas fight for independence. It represents late flint pouch from the central Valley of Virginia, and is based on an example from Rockingham Co, VA as documented by Madison Grant in his book on hunting pouches. The horn is my standard Virginia, single banded, screw-tip powder horn.
This approximately 8″ x 8″ pouch is a three piece design of 3-4 oz vegetable tan cowhide consisting of a back, front, and flap. The back and flap are connected by a separate panel that is perforated at the top for the straps which are sewn inside. The pouch is not lined, as most original pouches were not, but it does include a small hanging pocket suitable for balls or other small items. The bag is gusseted to increase the capacity; and all seams are welted which improves longevity. The flap and inside edge of the front panel are bound in goat or calf skin. All my leather work is hand sewn with a saddle stitch using waxed linen thread. The 6 oz leather strap is 1″ wide and is adjusted with a plain forged iron buckle. There is also a leather keeper to keep the strap end neat. The pouch is stained with a vinegar and iron solution which results in a dark brown to blue/black color through the leather. This is a chemical stain; not a pigment. It will not wash out. The outside and part of the interior of the pouch is rubbed with Mink Oil and then brushed to protect the leather.
During the construction process, the leather and the finished pouch was distressed giving it a well broken in appearance. Almost all my work is slightly aged. Hopefully, those of you who are re-enactors will not be accused of being farb on my account.
Click and drag your mouse cursor horizontally across the image to spin the powder horn below. You can use you mouse wheel (scroll) to zoom in and out. You must zoom all the way out in order to spin the horn.
Shown below is a slightly larger version (approximately 9″x 9″) of the bag above made for a fowler paired with a plain southern powder horn.
You can obtain your very own pouch and horn outfit like the ones shown above for the following prices:
Late Flint Virginia Shot Pouch (as shown above) – $500 plus $25 shipping/insurance.
Powder Horn Hangers for Late Flint Virginia Shot Pouch – $15 (Option with a pouch order)
Add Decorative Tooling on the flap and front panel – $20 (Option with a pouch order)
A leather knife sheath added to the back or strap – $35 (Option with a pouch order – client must provide the knife)
Virginia Single Banded Screw-tip Powder Horn – $250 plus shipping
Plain Southern Horn – $150 plus shipping
Shipping on a single item is $15. Shipping on an outfit is $25. I will collect VA Sales Tax for items shipping to VA residents.
To order a pouch or horn like the ones shown above, or to discuss a different project, use the Contact form to send me an e-mail. See FAQ for more information on purchasing custom work.
I decided that I wanted to combine my fraktur (18th & 19th Century German-American folk art) work with my leather work in some way. Some sort of embroidery seemed the most sensible way to do it. So, I decided to create an original fraktur design hand embroidered on a canvas insert in the flap of a Fur Trade era hunting pouch. This hunting pouch (#36) is the result of that idea. This is not a strictly historically correct pouch. I have taken some creative license to pursue my artistic interests in fraktur.
The fraktur is titled the Face of God; representative of Jesus Christ (in the form of the peacock) as the human face of the trinity (in the form of three tulips on each branch of the tree of life stemming from the heart of God) and the model for our lives. It is stitched on natural cotton duck canvas using cotton embroidery floss. About half the time to complete this pouch is in the execution of the fraktur. More pouches with different original hand embroidered fraktur are to follow. That art work will be featured here.
The pouch itself is the best that I know how to make. It is hand stitched using waxed linen thread out of 2-3 oz (new pouches will have 6 oz leather straps) vegetable tan cowhide, fully lined with a period red print, and incorporating rolled welts, rolled bindings, and a flap lining of calfskin. The pouch is 8 1/2″ x 9″ overall with a main storage area that is about 5″ x 8″. There is an internal pocket for small items. The strap passes through the top of the apron and is stitched inside the pouch for the cleanest possible appearance. The strap can be adjusted via a brass buckle to a maximum of 57″ top of bag to top of bag. I will make the strap accommodate any buyer.
As with all my leather work, the leather is stained with the period correct vinegar and iron for a blue-black to dark brown finish. Mink oil is put on top of that. I have not aged this pouch in any way. The wrinkles in the leather are just from turning it.
This pouch is sold, but the bespoke price for a similar pouch with a one of a kind embroidered insert is $950 plus $25 shipping/insurance and the applicable Virginia sales tax if shipped to a Virginia resident.
The God of Peace and Love
This pouch (#38) is identical to the one above (#36) in all ways except for the fraktur insert. The insert is hand embroidered on natural cotton duck canvas using French made cotton embroidery floss. The design is entitled “The God of Peace and Love.”
Pouch #38 is available for sale for $450 plus $25 shipping and any applicable Virginia sales tax.
Photos of Pouch #38 are shown below.
A Pouch for My Brother
This hunting pouch (#40) was created just for my brother. He wanted the first bag I created above (#36), but spoke up a little too late. That bag went fast. The followup fraktur embroidery that I did wasn’t all that appealing to him. So, I created this one. It has a similar symbology to the first pouch with a single peacock, front and center, representing Christ as the human face of God. The three tulips represent the Trinity. I have just included a photo of the flap. The rest is pretty much the same as the bags above.
Shown here is my version of a simple mid 18th Century shot pouch. It is a variant of my Early VA shot pouch which is based on an original Virginia shot pouch that was documented by Wallace Gusler in the December 2009 Muzzle Blasts(pp. 4-8) as well as a French and Indian War shot pouch documented in the Clash of Empires exhibition catalog (p. 30). This pouch is much more like the Clash of Empires pouch.
This pouch is a one piece bag, approximately 7″ x 7″, with rounded bottom corners. Essentially, it is a “D” shaped pouch just like the Clash of Empires pouch. There is a welt that acts as a center divider. It is flat stitched up the sides. This construction is common to both my Early Va pouch and the Clash of Empires pouch.
As there is no strap on the Clash of Empires pouch, I used the same strap arrangement as on the Early VA pouch which was documented by Wallace Gusler from period sources. That strap arrangement uses double buttons (think cuff links) to attach one side of the strap to the back of the pouch. The other end of the strap is stitched to the back of the pouch.
This pouch is made from 3-4 oz vegetable tanned leather and the strap of 6 oz leather. It is hand stitched with waxed linen thread and stained with vinegar and iron for a blue/black color.
Vinegar and iron is a period stain for leather and wood. I like it because it is quick and easy to apply, doesn’t require a lot of stain, is permanent and doesn’t rinse out. It works by reacting with the tannic acid in the leather.
This pouch has the flap tooled with a typical English pattern using an hand made star stamp. Unfortunately, this leather didn’t take tooling as well as I would have liked. Some leather works better than others.
If I can make a pouch like this for you, use the Contact page to initiate an order. The bespoke price for this pouch is $115. The tooling is an extra $20. The shipping on a single bag is $15. Sales tax of at least 5.3% (higher in some areas) will be added to orders shipped to a Virginia address.
1775-1785 Augusta/Rockbridge Co. Virginia Longrifle Templates & Layout Guide
This offering is my attempt to help the beginning gunmaker by making some of my layout tools available to them. As the title indicates, this drawing has templates for my interpretation of the 1775-1785 Augusta/Rockbridge Co. Virginia longrifles documented by Wallace Gusler in the Journal of Historical Armsmaking Technology (JHAT), Volume II.
This drawing contains my stock profile layout template for an Early Virginia longrifle along with my layout guidelines. The stock profile is basically the same as an early Lancaster, and I use this stock profile template for any colonial period longrifle. For a Pennsylvania longrifle, make the side walls of the lower forearm 1/8″ thick as opposed to 3/32″ for a Virginia longrifle. I have also included notes for the gunmaker describing the barrel pin placement for Virginia longrifles versus Pennsylvania rifles. Otherwise, basic stock layout and construction is the same.
I have included templates for the gunmaker to cut out the brass blanks to make a patchbox (with two different finials) roughly in the style of the rifles documented in the JHAT II article. Additionally, a full size cross section is included for the gunmaker to create the lid/finial former as well as a hinge former, the rear thimble mandrel, and the rear thimble tang former with the notes required to make these items. There are templates for the brass blanks to make the thimbles and two sizes of nose pieces with details about the required mandrels as well as plans for the rear thimble mandrel and tang former. Some stock cross sectional profiles are included to help the beginning gunmaker. I have also included the details for the scratchstock to shape the upper forearm. The scratchstock blade template recreates the moulding unique to the unknown maker of the antique rifle documented in JHAT. That moulding is also used by John Davidson which is why many believe he was an apprentice to the unknown master gunmaker.
Gunmaker Instructions for Using the Templates & Layout Guide
All the templates and plans are actual size. You just need to glue the paper templates to stiff cardboard such as poster board or mat board, and cut out the templates with an Xacto knife. You should cut along the outside edge of the lines. I would suggest that you print two copies of the plans; one to use for templates and the other for continued reference.
The image above shows the drawing that you will receive. The full size drawing is approximately 24″ x 75″. You can download the plan here; Download Full Size Plan This is an .pdf file and you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.Adobe Acrobat Reader Download
I want to make it clear that this offering is NOT intended to be a full set of plans, notes, and instructions necessary to build a complete rifle. It is merely an offering of some of the gunmaker tools necessary to produce a similar rifle. If you like the work I did with my Rifle #17, this will just help you layout a similar rifle from a stock blank and make a similar patchbox, side plate, thimbles, one piece nose piece, and upper forearm moulding. Someone who is building their first rifle from a blank, may find my approach to layout informative.
Copyright & Printing Information
I used to offer this plan for sale, both as a finished print and download. It never sold as well as I had hoped; and given that I don’t want to go to the expense to make this site secure enough for continued online sales, I am offering it as a free download for personal use. I still hold the copyright and it may not be used for any commercial purposes. You should be able to get the drawing printed locally for about $10 a sheet on standard bond. I get mine printed at the local FedEx Office store. I send them the file electronically via their web site and then pickup the prints when they are ready.
Today, I was fortunate enough to be present for the charcoal bluing of a longrifle barrel. Richard Frazier, a former journeyman at the gunshop at Colonial Williamsburg, was charcoal bluing the barrel for his latest rifle. He was sharing the process that they used for years, and still use to blue gun barrels at the CW gunshop. Al Edge, a well respected gunmaker and restorer, was the host for this effort and his apprentice Corey Pheasant helped out with the setup, fire building, and some of the barrel handling.
I have documented the process in photos as shown below.
We started with a box constructed of 1/8″ thick steel sheet. It was approximately 8″x8″x50″ and set about 12″ off the ground on a pair of simple welded steel supports. The box was wired to the supports to keep it from moving around.
Below is the fire being started. It needs to be a big fire with plenty of firewood under and stacked around the box.
Here, the fire has just about burned down and the charcoal in the box is starting to turn white at the top. We were just about ready to go.
Here is a close up of the mandrel used to handle the barrel and place it in the charcoal. The short leg goes in the breech of the barrel. The long leg of the mandrel is used to handle the barrel.
Here is the rag and rottenstone used to rub down the barrel. The barrel is removed from the charcoal every 15 minutes and lightly rubbed on the top five flats.
In the following photos, Richard is inserting the degreased barrel into the charcoal for the first time. The bore was NOT packed with charcoal.
Here the barrel has been removed for the first time to be rubbed down with an old cloth dusted in rottenstone. We put the barrel in the charcoal three time for 15 minutes each; removing it twice to rub it down.
Once Richard was happy with the bluing job, the barrel was removed and the mandrel clamped in a post vise so that the barrel could be sprayed with WD-40 and rubbed down. The barrel was a splotchy blue gray when it came out of the charcoal. After rubbing it down a few minutes with the WD-40, it was a fairly even dark blue.
Richard noted that the charcoal might have been a bit hot, but it is hard to adjust that with the wood fire. You have to guess at the amount of fuel to add, and I am told that too little is worse than too much. They were aiming at about 1000F.
In case you were wondering, Richard case hardened the breech plug along with the lock plate and cock.