The Shofar, like many other articles in Judaism, varies according to custom and tradition. Though the curled Ram horn Shofar is the most common and best known, Yemenite Shofars, for example are made of Kudu horn, which is straight.

In either case, the animals horn needs to be processed and polished before a properly polished Shofar, be it a polished Ram horn Shofar or polished Yemenite Shofar can be made. An animal’s horn is made of an outer layer of hard keratin, the material that makes up our bones and hair are made from. To transform a horn into a Shofar, the interior bone tissue needs to be removed from the horn. This is done by letting the horn sit for at least a year. By the end of the year, the tissue inside has dried, shriveled and decomposed

The horn is then heat sterilized to eliminate any residual bacteria, leaving the craftsman with a hollow horn that can be crafted into a Shofar. Usually at least some part of the Shofar needs to be straightened in order to drill the mouthpiece. This is done by carefully heating the Shofar and bending it. Many Shofars break or split at this stage and end up being discarded. The very tip of the horn is sawed off and a hole is carefully drilled to form the mouthpiece.

This is the point the horn is brought to the finish desired for the polished Shofar. Extreme care has to be taken not to over polish the Shofar to the extent that a weak spot is created where it can crack. There are different types of polished Shofar finishes. Some are fully polished to a very high gloss. Others are left partially unpolished in order to display the natural look of the horn.

At this point, the Shofar is tested to determine if its sound is good. If necessary, the mouthpiece is adjusted by widening the hole until it produces a loud, clear sound. Note that a polished ram Shofar will produce a very different sound than a polished Yemenite Shofar, with the latter being usually more strident and piercing.