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I was thinking of crafting a wooden horn (like those used to blow, crafted from natural animal horns). I'd like to know how hard would it be to take a trunk piece and make a horn, drilling a hole making it hollow after giving it a desired shape and then paint it to tase.

The idea was to make a good looking and functional sounding horn.

Is it possible to do it at home? What tools should I use for this?

  • Hi, welcome to the Woodworking SE. It would be useful if you could provide a picture or two of exactly what you're looking to create so we're on the same page. If the shape I'm visualising (which I think is what @jdv was too) is correct this would be..... difficult for the newbie. I don't want to say impossible, because I've seen many amazing finished pieces claimed by their makers to be first-time projects, but very technically challenging or physically difficult might as well mean impossible for the majority of people. – Graphus Jan 10 at 18:06
  • Now as to horns made of wood, there are such things. Alpine horns are one type. I don't know about the other traditions but I suspect they may use similar (if not the same) construction methods, and it is both of the things I mention above — very technically challenging and physically difficult. – Graphus Jan 10 at 18:10
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    Oh! I'd forgotten about alpenhorns. – jdv Jan 10 at 22:18
  • It occurs to me that high end clarinets and oboes (and probably others) are made out of wood, usually African blackwood. Low end variants are made of cast plastic. That tells you something about the difficulty of making a playable horn-style instrument out of wood. – Charlie Kilian Feb 1 at 2:43
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Really, really hard.

A conic style instrument, in the manner of a vuvuzela, might be possible by an advanced wood-turner. But a more natural convoluted animal horn-like instrument would be pretty challenging.

I suppose one could carve it out by hand, as long as the convolutions were simpler (no real spirals, for example) but I suspect it would be a lot of work involving clever technique and special tools.

But the shape is not really the important part. It can look like a horn but not resonate, in which case it will not (easily) make a pitch. It needs to resonate as well, which is a function of the how the air space interacts with the "shell".

This can happen more naturally, as in the case of the didgeridoo, which is often made from wood where the heart and pith has been removed (often by termites!)

The comments reminded me of alphorns which are carved from softwood such as spruce. Apparently, these would often be made of naturally curved pieces, but modern design is to fit multiple carved pieces to get the intended shape. So, you could look into the techniques and tools used to make those instruments. In general, you would carve these pieces using typical (and likely custom) carving tools. But each instrument style will probably demand its own special techniques and tools.

  • I wonder if a really twisty root can be used to get most of the winding shape for free... – Eugene Jan 10 at 18:18
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    @Eugene, maybe, but the real trick is removing the insides in such a way that you have a shell left behind that can be made to resonate. – jdv Jan 10 at 18:20

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