How to Make a Drinking Horn (Step by Step Guide)

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on crafting your own drinking horn!

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a reenactor, or someone who appreciates unique drinking vessels, this guide will walk you through the process of creating a drinking horn from start to finish.

Let’s embark on this exciting journey together!


Drinking horns have been a part of human culture for centuries, used by various civilizations across the globe. In this guide, we’ll delve into the art of making a drinking horn, combining historical techniques with modern safety and design considerations.

A wooden table with woodworking tools laid out ready for work.

The History and Significance of Drinking Horns

Drinking horns date back to the Neolithic era and have been used by various cultures, including the Vikings and the Saxons.

They were not just functional but also symbolized status and were often richly decorated.

Who Should Consider Making a Drinking Horn?

This project is perfect for anyone interested in historical artifacts, DIY crafts, or unique kitchenware. No prior experience is required, just enthusiasm and a bit of patience!

Choosing the Right Horn

The first step in making a drinking horn is selecting the right horn. This choice is crucial as it affects the size, shape, and appearance of your final product.

Types of Horns Suitable for Drinking

Common choices include cow, buffalo, or goat horns. Each has distinct characteristics; for example, cow horns are larger and have a more pronounced curve.

Where to Source Quality Horns

You can find raw horns at local farms, online marketplaces, or specialty craft stores. Ensure the horn is ethically sourced and from a reliable supplier.

Understanding Sizes and Shapes

Horns vary in size and shape. Consider the volume you want for your drinking horn and the ease of handling. Larger horns make a bold statement but can be heavier and harder to balance.

Tools and Materials Needed

Gathering the right tools and materials is essential for a smooth crafting process. Make sure you have everything before you start.

Essential Tools for Crafting a Drinking Horn

You’ll need a saw for cutting, sandpaper for smoothing, a heat source for shaping, and brushes for applying sealants.

Selecting the Right Sealing and Polishing Materials

For sealing, food-safe epoxy or beeswax is recommended. For polishing, use a non-toxic, food-safe polish.

Safety Equipment and Best Practices

Always use safety goggles, gloves, and work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling dust or fumes.

Cleaning and Preparing the Horn

Cleaning and preparing the horn is a critical step. This process will remove any debris and odor, making it safe and pleasant to use.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

Begin by soaking the horn in warm, soapy water. Use a brush to scrub the inside and outside thoroughly. Rinse well and let it dry.

Shaping and Smoothing Techniques

Use sandpaper to smooth the surface. For shaping, gently heat the horn and bend it to your desired shape. Allow it to cool and set.

Two plain drinking horns on a table bench.

Sealing the Interior

Sealing the interior is vital to make the horn safe for drinking. It prevents liquids from seeping into the horn material and also preserves the horn.

Choosing the Right Sealant for Safety and Durability

Select a food-safe sealant like beeswax or an epoxy resin. These materials are safe for contact with food and beverages.

Detailed Application Process

Apply the sealant evenly inside the horn, ensuring complete coverage. Use a brush for epoxy resin and a heat source for melting and spreading beeswax.

Curing Time and Additional Coats

Allow adequate time for the sealant to cure, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply additional coats if necessary for a completely sealed interior.

Decorating Your Drinking Horn

Decorating your horn is where you can get creative and personalize your project. Traditional designs or modern motifs can both look stunning.

Traditional vs. Modern Design Ideas

For a traditional look, consider Norse or Celtic patterns. For a modern twist, think about etching or painting your own designs.

Engraving Techniques and Tips

Engraving can be done using a Dremel tool or by hand. Start with a simple design and practice on a scrap piece first.

Close up of an old drinking horn from Cyprus with intricate carvings on it.

Adding Fittings and Stands

To make your horn more functional, add a stand or a leather strap for ease of handling and display.

Finishing Touches

The finishing touches will enhance the look and feel of your horn, making it a true piece of art.

Polishing and Preservation

Polish the outside with a soft cloth and non-toxic polish. This not only enhances its appearance but also helps in preserving the horn.

Customizing with Straps or Holders

A leather strap or metal holder can be added for practicality and style. This also makes it easier to carry or display your horn.

Two curved drinking horns in a white wood background.

Caring for Your Drinking Horn

Proper care and maintenance will ensure your drinking horn lasts for years and stays in good condition.

Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

Always hand wash your horn with mild soap and water. Avoid dishwashers as the heat can damage the horn and sealant. Here are some more maintenance tips.

Storage and Handling Recommendations

Store your horn in a dry, cool place. Avoid leaving it in direct sunlight or in high humidity, as this can warp or damage the horn.


We hope this guide has inspired you to create your own drinking horn. With patience and creativity, you can craft a unique piece that celebrates both history and craftsmanship.

Share your creation with friends or at historical reenactments, and enjoy the satisfaction of having made it yourself!

Recap of the Making Process

In summary, the key steps in making a drinking horn are selecting and preparing the horn, sealing the interior, decorating, and applying finishing touches.

Each step is vital to the overall quality and functionality of the horn. Of course, if you prefer to avoid the hassle of DIY, check out our range of ready-to-use horns in various styles.

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