Abbey Horn - Taking Horns by the Bull

Making a Shoehorn

As promised in our previous piece on Abbey Horn, we're giving an overview of how horn is worked to make a shoehorn.

As indicated by the name, shoehorns are traditionally made of horn. Made well, a proper shoehorn will last a lifetime. And they look so much nicer than a plastic equivalent. If you take your footwear seriously, then one of these is an absolute pre-requisite.

Shoehorns are typically made from cow horn and the natural grain of the horn is utilised to provide the strength required.

The models from Abbey Horn you see here are the 18" Shoehorn With Stag Handle above and the 10" Tip End Shoehorn below.

Stages of Manufacture

A piece of horn is specially selected in its natural form, with no prior heat treatment or shaping. It is then split into two pieces.

The horn is treated under a soft gas flame and shaped to make it straight. It will appear charred on the surface, but the underneath is untouched.

The shape is formed in a metal vice and the tip is straightened; it may take several treatments with heat to get to this stage.

The shoehorn is formed by hand on abrasive discs. It then goes through a smoothing process using emery cloth of increasingly finer grade.

Once shaped and formed, the piece becomes more recognisable as a shoehorn. All that’s needed is a polish to bring out the natural beauty and colour.

The shoehorn is finished with its leather loop and tag.

Thanks to Abbey Horn for providing this information.


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