Can Horn As A Material Be Fixed?

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mau1

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
913
416
Canada
George was showing an amazing repair he performed on a horn-shaped pipe that was snapped in two. In his posting, he mentioned horn as a material which prompts me to ask "can a crack in the horm/material be easily fixed?"
I have a nice Preben Holm pipe that has a couple of serious cracks in the horn that need to be repaired. I'm not thinking of doing it myself, rather having it done by one of our repair guru's, but I find the solution intriguing.
Would jamming the stem in have caused the cracks in the first place because of natural weakness in the horn? Would it happen again after a repair but in another section of the horn?
I was thinking it might be possible to fill the cracks with super glue or other bonding material but you would have to have a pretty light hand and matching the colour would prove difficult. Would you clamp the horn? And would the stem fit afterwards? Inquiring minds wish to know :)
Thanks


 

mau1

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
913
416
Canada
Now that I'm thinking about it, and looking at the picture, it appears as though the cracks are from the outside rather than inside. I don't have the pipe to hand so I can't confirm. What would cause that?

 

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mau1

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
913
416
Canada
Now that was a response I was not expecting :)
Would their method of repair stand up to the rigors of pipe smoking? An interesting question.

 

alaskanpiper

Preferred Member
May 23, 2019
5,321
12,055
Alaska
Would their method of repair stand up to the rigors of pipe smoking?
No idea. I don't usually set my mounts on fire, haha. Taxidermist might be able to guess at that though. Just a thought, you may get better answers from pipe makers. Just thinking out loud.

 

georged

Preferred Member
Mar 7, 2013
2,705
655
Animal horn is categorically unsuitable for pipe use. It simply isn't stable enough. There are a few top-end guys who have discovered a small supply of a very specific type that is acceptable when used in certain ways and in certain sizes, but that's it.
Since there are excellent synthetic copies, that pipe makers continue to use real horn makes little sense to me.
Regarding the original post, that's especially low grade horn, and filling cracks in it will be a never-ending process. They'll keep appearing. Eventually, after enough delamination and splitting has occurred, it will detach from the shank altogether.
Wish I had better news. :(

 

mau1

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
913
416
Canada
Oh boy. Not what I wanted to hear George, but glad you posted; thank you sir! I will definitely steer clear of any pipes I see with horn from now on. A shame it had to be a Preben Holm pipe too! Perhaps a synthetic replacement in the future if I find someone who can do it.

 

lonestar

Preferred Member
Mar 22, 2011
2,820
1
Edgewood Texas
Natural Horn is a beautiful thing, but inherently weak and prone to failure. That said, I still love the stuff. When used properly it *can* last a long time, but using it , unreinforced, as a mortise is asking for failure. That horn could be superglued back together, the stem *might* still fit, but it would be far from ideal and would just break again some day. It really needs to be replaced for this pipe to be properly repaired.

 

georged

Preferred Member
Mar 7, 2013
2,705
655
Perhaps a synthetic replacement in the future if I find someone who can do it.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFwwtvtKlXW8SRXA56QSybk63EIQNkUpE

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
29,383
8,733
If it were mine -- and it is magnificent pipe otherwise -- I'd smoke it until it is mechanically unsound, thinking of this as patina, and then go to the synthetic repair. I don't see repairing it just for cosmetics. It looks pretty great as long as it stays together.

 

mau1

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
913
416
Canada
Thanks George, I recognize that vice. Mso, I think you're right, for now. I have other pipes that are a higher order on the repair list. Although this one will keep nagging at me.

 

stevecourtright

Junior Member
Oct 4, 2018
82
109
Evanston, IL
Sorry about your pipe!
I would guess that the horn material expands and contracts thermally a great deal more relative to the inside material of the stem, and as it cooled (while the interior stem material was still warm) the contraction of the horn caused the cracks to form because the horn material is trying to shrink over the still warm/expanded stem. Since they are fitted at the same (room) temperature, it's hard to predict how the fit will change when heated unless the maker knows how thermally stable the different materials are and whether they are about the same.
I build acoustic guitars and different woods have different stability in reaction to changes in humidity. As a result, guitars tend to crack in predictable places depending on the wood choices. The result looks the same.

 

jpmcwjr

Preferred Member
May 12, 2015
16,096
6,496
Monterey Peninsula
Me, too.
I suspect it was more about humidity - perhaps the bone dried out over time- than about heat stress. The mortise area shouldn't get very warm, much less hot.

 

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