The process of combmaking requires a number of specific tools.
The shape of the comb is chopped out of a 'plate' of horn using a cutter (1). The tool is placed on the 'plate' and put under pressure to cut straight through the horn.
A stadda (2) is used to hold two blades or files when hand cutting the teeth of combs. One blade is placed in each slot in the wood.
The mechanisation of combmaking made the process quicker and less wasteful. Using a pair of blades (3) in a twin-cutting machine two combs could be cut out of the material together.
The teeth are then mechanically filed using a grail plate (4) or manually with a hand grail (5).
These two sets of objects demonstrate some of the different stages in making horn combs:
Dust or Nit Comb
A 'plate' of horn is chopped into shape using a cutter (6). The material is shaved to give a smoother surface (7). The teeth are cut out using a saw (8). The teeth and surface are rounded off and the surface refined further (9). The final process is to polish the surface to give a shiny, smooth finish (10).
The shape of the comb has been chopped and the surface has been shaved (11). The teeth have been cut out and filed smooth (12). The decorative pattern on the crest of the comb has been pierced and filed smooth (13).