How to Make Cow Horns

Updated February 21, 2017

Cow horns have crafted and sculpted for thousands of years for a variety of different jobs. Horns have been used as a vessel for drinking, for blowing like a trumpet and even shaped and moulded to make things like window panes, cutlery and coin holders. You can prepare and make your own cow for personal use.

Remove the soft core inside the horn. Before it can be used, the soft inner core of the horn must be removed. There are various ways of preparing for this, all of which involve enduring a pretty bad smell. The most hygienic way is to soak the horn in boiling water until the outer portion of the horn softens a little. Be prepared for a bad smell.

Dry out the horn in hot, dry place. This can be near a furnace or outside in the summer. As the horn dries, the inner and outer portion will separate from the outside of the horn, making it easier to remove. This is not the most hygienic method of removing the inside of the horn, but it is probably the easiest.

Soak the horn in cold water for a few months. This is the best way of removing the inner portion from multiple horns in one go. The soaking method was used was by horners in history but can create a nasty lingering odour unless the water is regularly changed as the blood drains from the core

Scrape out the contents of the horn, using an old teaspoon, piece of bamboo or split piece of wood to reach inside. Anything harder than wood is likely to damage the horn's casing and should not be used. Scooping out the core of the horn requires a strong stomach, especially if the horn has aged. Use scouring pads or a bottle brush to reach down to the very tip of the horn.

Cut off roughly an inch from the tip of the horn. This will form the mouthpiece of the horn and can be sanded into shape. At the wide end of the horn, consider removing roughly half an inch and sanding to prevent splitting.

Drill a hole from the mouthpiece of the horn to the cavity inside. The size of the horn will dictate how big the drill hole can be without damaging the horn. When you reach the inside cavity of the horn, remove the drill and re-sand the mouthpiece.

Learn to blow your horn. Try adjusting the shape of your lips on the mouthpiece to create your first sound. Instead of just blowing, try keeping your lips tight together and blowing as hard as you can.


Sand the outside of your horn until it is completely smooth to improve its appearance. Use increasingly fine sand paper grades to achieve a good matt finish on the outside of the horn.

Things You'll Need

  • Cow Horn
  • Old spoon
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamps
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