Dave Farley, APF-I CF Demonstrates Modifications Using the Kerckhaert SX-10

Dave Farley visited the FootPro Shop and did a variety of shoe modifications using the Kerckhaert SX-10 unclipped shoes. The SX-10 is a 3/8” thick shoe that allows you to do various modifications without sacrificing the strength of the shoe. You can find videos of these modifications on the FPD YouTube channel.


HEEL CLEAN OUT MODIFICATION
The heel clean out modification is used to promote the sole to naturally clean out or unload the material that collects or packs into the foot and sometimes snowballs. Open the heels by hammering the inside of each heel, or grinding bevels on each heel. Taper the material from the ground side of the shoe. This shoe modification helps the foot to clean, especially if the horse is working at higher speeds.

ONION MODIFICATION
The onion modification is done by forging and displacing steel, widening the material to cover or protect an area of the sole, especially at the seat of corn at the juncture of the bar and hoof wall. There are many ways to accomplish this modification. This demonstration was done by placing the shoe on the horn and simply hammering the SX10 material inward to cover the area of the corn. This forging exercise can be forged on any area of the shoe where the foot is compromised by a puncture, bruise or being cut too short.

DOUBLE LATERAL MODIFICATION
The double lateral heel modification is done similar to a trailer but we take almost an inch or more of material to forge a longer trailer, forging it more outward or more laterally. Then, using the horn, hammer it back into the heel area of the shoe. This provides more lateral support without as much length as a trailer. It can be forged wider by hammering from the hoof side of the shoe outward. This modification is used for horses with run under bilateral heels or contracted run under heels. For example, the type of hoof conformation that loses traction or support on tight fast turns.

ROLLED TOE MODIFICATION
The rolled toe modification is a very simple one. It requires forging the toe of the shoe approximately from the center or middle of the branch from the second nail hole outward to the second nail hole of the opposite branch. This forging of the toe area will widen the width of the branch as it thins the material the direction it’s being hammered. This thinning and widening of the toe encourages the foot to break over easier and sometimes faster. This modification is helpful to take stress off the soft tissues in that limb at the break over of the foot. If you have a horse that naturally breaks over either laterally or medially, you can adjust the roll to allow that breakover in that direction.

LATERAL SUPPORT MODIFICATION
The lateral support modification is made by forging the steel at the heel of the shoe from the hoof side. Placing the ground side of the shoe on the edge of the anvil and holding the hammer at approximately 45 degrees, hammer the material outward. This will widen the branch or heel area. This modification is forged to help support a contracted or run under heel. It is very commonly helpful on hind feet but can also be used for fronts.

TRAILER MODIFICATION
A trailer modification is made by turning the end of the branch of the shoe to line up with the diagonal toe of the shoe. It can be medial or lateral but most often is used laterally. The trailer modification should extend farther back and outward to alter the landing of the foot. This modification, if used laterally, will widen a horse’s landing. Useful for a horse that rope walks.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 18, Issue 2. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Clipping Methods by Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

Volume 3, Issue 1 of The Natural Angle featured a story on clipping shoes using the edge of the anvil. In the step by step discussion in that article we used a clipping hammer, which is similar to a ball pein. In this article, the photos show the clipping process with the clipping, rounding and cross pein hammers as well as a handled bob punch. As you can see from the photos, the three hammers are used in an identical manner. The starting of the bubble using the bob punch is different but the drawing of the clip is the same. The point of this article is to illustrate the fact that the clips you end up with can be very similar- making it a matter of personal preference as to which tool you use to start your clips.

The hammers all require good control to produce a consistent bubble. The bob punch is somewhat easier to control but you have to be cautious not to drive the punch too deep as you may pierce the shoe. The bubble is not always as easy to draw but with practice it can provide a very consistent clip and may help avoid distortion to your crease and nail holes if your hammer control is not just right in the bubble step.

No matter how you start the bubble you need good hammer control when you are drawing the clips. Also keep in mind if you don’t use the edges of your hammer or anvil you will end up with clips that look like toe caps.


Photo 1. Use the tool that works best for you.


Photo 2. Establish a good balanced position for starting your clips using the various hammers.


Photos 3, 4. With each of the hammers, you want to drive the hammer at a 45 degree angle,
directly at the edge of the anvil.


Photos 5, 6, 7. No matter which hammer you choose,
you have to have good control to establish a good start to the clip.


Photo 8. The bob-punch requires a different starting method. Start first by setting the point of contact.


Photos 9, 10. You then slide to the edge of the hardy hole to finish producing the bubble.
Be careful not to drive the punch too deep as it can easily pierce the shoe and leave a hole.
As you can see the bubble is slightly different from the one produced by the hammers.


Photo 11. This is the bubble produced by the hammers, you should flatten the area behind the clip
with the clip toward you and using the heel area of the hammer.
This makes it much easier to see your work.


Photos 12, 13, 14. I like to draw the clips working from the same end of the anvil.
This gives me clearance for the tongs as I rotate the shoe during the drawing of the clip.
In this case I am using the flat of the hammer and the edge of the anvil to draw the clip.


Photo 15. Use the corners of the hardy hole to set your clip base.


Photos 16, 17, 18, 19. You can see that you can get similar results no matter which tool you choose.
The key to consistency is practice and hammer control. The method I use for the hammers, working from the end of the anvil, gives me a nicely balanced position where I can get good control of my hammer and the tongs.


Photo 20. The goal is consistently strong clips no matter what method you use.


This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 5, Issue 2. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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What Happens When Hoof Care is Neglected

In July of 2020, we had a horse come in the FootPro Shop that proved to be a good example of what can happen when hoof care is not done on a regular schedule.

Dave Farley, CF APF-I came to the shop to talk about the evaluation process he follows before shoeing his horses. It was obvious the feet had not been trimmed for some time, indicating no farrier had been scheduled to keep them in reasonable shape.


JULY 2020
Annabelle before trim.


Beyond the excessive growth, Dave could see immediately she had a problem with her right front that needed to be dealt with. The owner told Dave the horse had just popped an abscess a few days before coming to the shop. In examining the size of the break in the hoof wall, it seemed likely a considerable amount of wall undermined as the abscess worked its way up the wall. There were also indications the sole had been compromised, as well.

Dave was able to get the foot trimmed, treated with FootPro CS+ and a shoe applied, despite the discomfort the abscess caused. He recommended the owners ask their vet how to treat the open wound and to make sure to follow up with a local farrier. The abscess appeared to have been ongoing for some time to cause this amount of wall separation and the poor condition of the hooves indicated she had not had any recent farrier work done either. The question was whether that neglect would change.


JULY 2020


Fast forward to March of 2021. We contacted the owners to see if they would like to bring the horse back to the FootPro Shop to be shod by Hank Chisholm, CJF. We had no idea that she had not been done since July of 2020. You can imagine our surprise- and Hank’s- when she walked into the shop. You can see from the images that the wall had grown considerably in the months since she was in the shop but she had not received any farrier care and a large area of the lateral wall of the right foot was broken off. What was still there was undermined and significantly detached. The sole was also undermined and had cracks and separation that were going to require extra care. Hank wasn’t rattled, he just knew this was going to be a tedious shoeing job that was going to take some time to get things back on track.

We had no idea that she had not been done since July of 2020.

Have a look at the images from 2020 when the abscess first caused damage to the wall and the work Hank went through to get this horse back on a good path.

This may be a good article to share with your clients that don’t stick to a good schedule. Perhaps they’ll understand why it’s important for the health of the horse to work with you to get a reasonable schedule set up.


March 2021
Missing wall and lateral Toe quarter undermined.


We had Bobby Menker, CJF APF-I come to the shop for two follow-up shoeings on this horse after Hank got her on track for recovery. The hoof is almost completely grown back and in a cycle or two, she should be as good as new.

Let’s all hope the owners learned how important it is to keep a regular schedule for her hoof care, whether it’s just to be trimmed or to be shod.

The work that Dave, Hank and Bobby did is documented in video footage that you can see on our YouTube channel.


MARCH 2021


APRIL 2021
Hoof is growing down and a much smaller area requires the Adhere patch.


JUNE 2021
Very little patch needed to fill void in toe quarter.


This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 18, Issue 4. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Application of Tungsten Pins

THERE ARE ANY NUMBER OF TRACTION DEVICES ON THE MARKET TODAY but a few of the most useful and least likely to create problems with the upper limb are the Tungsten pins, drive-in studs and nails with hard facing. All three are easily applied and provide significant security for horses that have to spend any time on blacktop, concrete or slippery rocks. One word of caution – always wear safety glasses when you are applying traction devices, as there is always a danger of your tool or the material chipping.

The V-Trak nails are simply applied by choosing the position where you wish to establish the traction (very often in the heel nail) and driving as you would any other nails. This is a very useful device when you have already shod a horse and find that it needs something to help give it confidence when loading or unloading in a trailer or on the show grounds where there is concrete or blacktop that has to be crossed. The nails are used extensively in the Standardbred market, particularly in the winter months.

Tungsten carbide pins are also easy to apply. They require a smaller drill bit than drive in studs (the fp brand works with a 4.5mm bit) and the 100% tungsten material provides just as much traction as the drive-in stud.

For either the pins or studs, you should first center punch the spot you plan to drill. This will help keep the bit from sliding out of position.

To avoid reaming the hole or distorting it, use a drill press or place your shoe in a vise to keep it secure. Once you have the hole drilled, place the pin in from the ground surface and tap into the depth you desire. Avoid bottoming out and making contact with the anvil face or flat surface you are using. The pins are tapered so they will tighten as you drive them in. It is also recommended to use a hammer that has a tempered face so that you don’t chip the tool. Another method of driving the pin into place is to flip it over once you have it started, and either on a metal plate or the chisel plate of your anvil, hit the foot surface of the shoe with your hammer until the pin has seated.

The drive-in studs are applied in exactly the same manner as the tungsten pins. Again, use caution when applying and don’t bottom out. The fp brand studs require a 17/64” drill bit.

Typical applications might be a pin or stud in each heel – approximately half way between the end of the shoe and the end of the crease (or last nail hole). This allows the heel landing to still have a slight bit of slide before the traction kicks in. In the toe area it is typical to see the pins or studs placed just in front of the end of the crease. You will have to make your own judgment as to whether you need something in the toe and heel area. Just keep in mind that too much traction may be counterproductive and create soreness or lameness.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 11, Issue 4. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Forging a Plain Stamped Shoe

By Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I provided us with an opportunity to get some good step by step shots of him forging a plain stamped shoe using 5/16”x3/4” flat stock. Notice that Roy, right-handed, works with his struck tools in line with his center-right side and is not trying to cross-over the shoe. This allows much more controlled use of the tools and allows you to strike the center of the tool in a balanced position. You are likely to get better results in the shoe and also avoid damaging your tool with off balance impact. You can see Roy talking about tool maintenance and forging in videos we have posted on our YouTube channel.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 16, Issue 3. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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The Tool Corner: Tool Maintenance

The overwhelming majority of tools that are returned to manufacturers of top tools are not defective. Most tools show obvious signs of misuse and/or lack of maintenance. Even under correct use you have to realize top tools are not lifetime tools. If you have used your tools properly and taken the time to maintain them you will generally find you get your money’s worth.

The following photos will give you some idea how simple it can be to extend the life of your tools. When reworking tools, the most useful piece of equipment in your truck or shop is a belt sander or disc grinder. The belt sander serves a dual function, it can also be used to bevel or dress shoes. Most rework is done with no heat in the tool. If you try to forge the tools back into shape you will probably destroy any heat treatment that has been done or create problems with the weld between the mild steel handles and the tool steel head.

Photo 1.
Any struck tool will need cleanup and maintenance on a regular basis. A driving hammer with its edges and the off center blows on a clinch cutter will cause minor mushrooming and then small chips to break loose. Be sure to dome the struck end of your tools and put a good chamfer on the edge.
Photo 2.

Photos 1 and 2. Any struck tool will need cleanup and maintenance on a regular basis. A driving hammer with its edges and the off center blows on a clinch cutter will cause minor mushrooming and then small chips to break loose. Be sure to dome the struck end of your tools and put a good chamfer on the edge.


When the head of your forging tools are struck off center often enough this is the result. Both ends of the tool have been deformed. Better hammer control and early cleanup would fix the problem.
Photo 3.

When the head of your forging tools are struck off center often enough this is the result. Both ends of the tool have been deformed. Better hammer control and early cleanup would fix the problem.
Photo 4.

When the head of your forging tools are struck off center often enough this is the result. Both ends of the tool have been deformed. Better hammer control and early cleanup would fix the problem.
Photo 5.

Photos 3-5. When the head of your forging tools are struck off center often enough this is the result. Both ends of the tool have been deformed. Better hammer control and early cleanup would fix the problem.


Photo 6.
Photo 7.

Photos 6 and 7. This e-head punch has been held too long in hot material and was struck while the tip was too hot.


Photos 8 and 9. Grind back to desired nail dimension.

Photo 8.
Photo 9.


Photo 10.
Photo 11.

Photos 10 and 11. Check against nail or use a guide. This one is made from aluminum.


Photo 12.

Photo 13.

Photo 14.

Photos 12-14. Put point on all forepunch ends. Right: Maintained and ready to go back to work.


Photos 15. The tip of this drift was broken. Grind the end back flat.


Photo 16.

Photo 17.

Photo 18.

Photos 16-18. Grind back to desired dimension, note slight grind curvature behind the tip to keep drift from changing your forepunched hole. An easy fix and it’s good as new.


Photo 19.

Photo 20.

Photo 21.

Photos 19-21. Pritchel with broken tip. Grind end flat. Grind to desired dimension. Use this approach to the wheel for aggressive stock removal.


Photo 22.
Photo 23.

Photos 22 and 23. Use this approach for finish control. Back to work but be more careful and you can avoid the breakage.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 3, Issue 3. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Shoeing For Deviations of the Fetlock and Pastern of the Hind Equine Limb

by Michael Wildenstein, CJF, FWCF (hons)

“Conformation of an owner’s horse can be a very sensitive subject.” – Ted S. Stashak

In my experience that statement is very true and includes individual horse owners that I felt were open-minded. Study the equine conformation; learn what is normal for a breed, discipline and environment. Use that information to modify shoes to enable the horse to do the best of its ability, in comfort, with the conformation it has. The study of equine conformation and the effect of modifications to the horseshoes on the hoof and limb can be overwhelming, yet interesting.

“Conformation, a major factoring soundness of the limbs, often determines the useful lifetime of a horse.” (Ted S Stashak) It is our responsibility as hoof care providers to take the conformation into consideration when defining shoe type, weight, size and modifications made to the shoes. “Every modification to the shoe has an influence on the biomechanics of the horse.” (Denoix, 1999) Historically, we have guidelines that are used when defining modifications to shoes, such as, “the principle thought should be to set the shoe, which should always be regarded as the base of support of the hoof, farther towards the more strongly worn side.” (Lungwitz, 1884) Another guideline, “if the shoe wears hard on the in or outside of the foot, place the wide branch of the shoe on the side of greatest wear.” (William Russell, 1887) I use historical references, as well as modern studies, to help define the modifications that will be made to a shoe. Knowing the environmental conditions, including the ground conditions are also taken into consideration. Artificial surfaces will require different modifications and shoe types than a natural surface.

Observe the shoe, hoof wear and the conformation of the hoof as this will give indications of deviations or issues above. Observe the horse in movement, standing in flexion and in extension for a complete evaluation of conformation. Radiographs and filming the horse in movement and reducing the speed of the film are useful information. (Photo, above right – Right Hind) This horse travels base narrow, the right hind is fetlock varus, pastern valgus. There is an abaxial rotational deviation at the hock. There is an axial rotational deviation from the Fetlock down. There is exaggerated rotation of the hoof as the hoof begins to break over. The hoof flares laterally.

EXPLANATION OF DESCRIPTION

  • Base Narrow = “The distance between the center lines of the feet at their placement on the ground is less than the distance between the center lines of the limbs at their origin.” – Ted S Stashak
  • Fetlock Varus = The limb deviates in below the fetlock.
  • Pastern Valgus = The limb deviates out below the pastern.
  • Abaxial rotational deviation = Twists out.
  • Axial rotational deviation = Twists in.
  • Rotation of the hind hoof during break over = “The result of a rotational deviation in the hock joint.”
  • Denoix flares laterally = “An outward distortion which may occur on any portion of the hoof wall.” – Millwater’s Farriery

When trimming, I follow the guidelines set forth by Michael Savoldi in trimming to uniform sole thickness. The width of web of the shoe is defined as twice as wide as the wall is thick. To define the wall thickness, measure from the outside of the live sole to the outside of the hoof wall. Traditionally the crease or nail line would be placed in the center of the web of the shoe. This would place the nail line over the white line. Uniform wall thickness on an average saddle horse is 3/8 inch; therefore a ¾ inch width of web shoe would be appropriate. Web width over ¾ would be considered wide web and under ¾ would be narrow web for a horse with a 3/8 inch thick hoof wall. A shoe with wide web would be used for greater protection of the solar surface of the hoof or to reduce traction. When defining thickness of the shoe, consider the weight of the horse, environment, wear, and integrity of the hoof. A thick shoe would be appropriate for a weak hoof, to increase traction for longer wear, or to increase the mechanics of modifications built into the shoe. When defining Shoe type, consider; weight of horse, conformation, condition, environment, rider ability, discipline and management.

A Kerckhaert DF Grand Prix which has a greater width of web laterally was used to allow for the modifications needed. The horse is large and heavy boned, capable of carrying the weight of the shoe The width of web was further increased laterally by extending the crease and setting the lateral heel down toward the inside width of web. The thickest part of the lateral heel of the shoe is under the viable hoof wall. The medial branch width is decreased by grinding. The shoe is perimeter fit to the hoof at uniform wall thickness. Pins are used for traction on the concrete the horse traverses on the way to the arena. It is important to minimize the traction on horses that have rotational deviations within the tarsus – or hock. In attempting to reduce the twisting we would inadvertently create greater stress to the hock. (Photo, above left – Left Hind) The left hind limb is not the same. The abaxial rotational deviation at the hock and the fetlock varus are the same. There is less pastern valgus and no axial rotation from the fetlock down. The medial toe has a tendency to flare. The lateral heel of the hoof is collapsing. Often the lateral heels on horses with this conformation will be painful. This hoof, in extension, travels further under the body and often beyond the midline. The modifications to the shoe on the left hind need to be consistent with the differences in conformation. Because of the differences in hoof conformation we know the stresses to this hoof are not the same as those to the right hind. The medial toe flare is addressed in trimming to uniform wall thickness. Because this hoof extends closer to the midline than the contra lateral limb (right hind) the width of web on the lateral heel needs to be greater than that of the shoe on the right hind. To address the compromised heel, the shoe is set down to the outside of the heel of the shoe. The shoe is fit to the perimeter of the hoof with the thickest part of the lateral heel of the shoe under the viable hoof wall. This lateral heel is fit full. In movement on soft ground the increased width of web will widen the stance. By setting down the outside of the lateral heel we are reducing the impact on the heel during the landing phase. This shoe is historically called a side bone shoe. This conformation increases the chance of formation of side bone. To shoe the horse for the conformation we are being proactive in changing the stresses to the hoof and limb. The medial branch is reduced in width with the grinder. The heel checks are cleaned up by forging and grinder.

The conformation of every limb and every horse must be evaluated before defining the shoes and modifications to be prescribed. I described the guidelines that were used to shoe this individual horse. The variables from one horse to another are great and many factors have to be given consideration. The changes are conservative and adjusted on a regular schedule. I encourage you to closely study the conformation of the horses that you provide hoof care and use the information to help you help the horse.

REFERENCES
Historical references are from The National Museum of Horseshoeing, Sulpher, Oklahoma

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 16, Issue 1. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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What Kind of View Do You Have?

By David Farley

One of the steps to getting a good trim is often overlooked. If you don’t have a good view of the balance of the bottom of the foot it is difficult to get the best trim. How you hold the leg affects the view of the foot, sometimes dramatically changing the perception you end up with.

Many farriers have found that holding the leg in its most natural position is the best way to get a true picture of the balance. This applies to front or hind. Take a look at the pictures. Try holding the leg in the various positions. You may be surprised at the differences in what you might have done with the foot trim based on how you see the hoof
in these positions.

If you hold the front foot similar to photos 1 and 2 you are very likely getting a distorted view. Your hand, especially the thumb pressure, will push the hoof capsule in one direction or another. Holding the leg out from the body, as in photos 3, 4 and 5 will also create a distorted view.

Try holding the leg by the cannon bone and staying in line with the body. The hoof may be under the horse and you will have to crouch to get the view but it gives you the most accurate view of how the hoof aligns with the cannon bone and gives you a much better starting point for your trim. See photos 6, 7 and 8.

The hind view is similarly affected by not allowing the limb to hang as freely and near its natural position as possible. Pushing the leg out of position with your inside knee will make it difficult to see the true alignment of the hoof capsule to the leg. This is evident in photo 9.

Hold the leg under the hock joint and keep the cannon bone perpendicular to the ground as it is shown in photos 10 and 11. If the cannon bone is pulled forward or pushed back as it is in photos 12 and 13 it will distort your view – particularly of the toe and heel length.


Your trim should always be done with the alignment of the hoof capsule to the leg in mind. Hopefully these tips will help you to improve the view and the trim.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 9, Issue 1. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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Time to Make Your Christmas List

Christmas is just around the corner and we have a few items that you might want to put on your Christmas list (or treat yourself). The products pictured below are available through FPD dealers. Find dealers near you at www.farrierproducts.com/locations.

Hoofjack Standard Green Base
with Accessories

The Standard Hoofjack® Base with Accessories will accommodate a pony up to a small draft or draft cross (hooves up to a size 7). Accessories include Post with cap, Post with cradle, 2 Magnets and screws and Tension knob. Some assembly required.

FootPro™ Economical Aprons

This FootPro Economical Apron has an excellent feel to it; features double knife pockets, protective leather pads, Velcro leg straps and an adjustable buckle belt. The apron is available in long, 30” and short, 25”. These aprons have green leather pads on brown cotton duck backing.


Bloom Forge and Diamond Loop Knives

Both the Bloom Forge and Diamond Farrier Loop Knives are excellent tools for general trimming but work especially well when working with the frog and bar area of the hoof.

The Bloom Forge Loop Knife complements the Bloom Regular and Curved blade styles already proven in the market and is made of high carbon steel. The Bloom Loop Knife features a laminated handle designed to eliminate pressure on wrists.

Featuring a stainless steel double blade, the Diamond Loop Knife allows for cleaner, more precise and symmetrical cuts. The Diamond Loop Knife is made with a hardwood handle, providing a comfortable grip for extended use.


Baldor 1/4hp Buffer

The Baldor 1/4hp Buffer (Red) has 1/2” shafts and operates at 1800 rpm. The shafts have been extended by 1” on each end to make it easier to keep knives away from the housing. The buffer is made in the USA and is painted red, to avoid confusing it with the 1/2hp grinder.

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Getting the Sharper Edge

By Roy Bloom, CJF APF-I

The following is a method for knife sharpening that I have been using for some years. You may be able to use this method to improve your knife’s cutting ability.

It is important that you maintain a thin blade. The thicker the blade, the larger the bevel at the cutting edge. If the blade is thick, you have to use too much pressure to pull the blade through the cut; the thinner the better. A fine bevel is easier to maintain and offers less resistance, allowing the knife to cut easily. Pay attention to the size of the bevel on a brand new knife and try to maintain that size throughout the life of the knife. As you sharpen and use your knife, the width will decrease and as it decreases the edge will thicken. The blade will need to be thinned.

In the photo to the right, I am thinning the blade. I have taken a belt and cut it about 1/2″ in width. You can do this with any belt. Cut the back with a razor blade about 4″ and carefully

tear the rest. With the edge pointing up, so you can see the bevel and not get too thin, grind the knife to the desired thickness. Don’t let the blade get hot. If you see any color you have gone too far, too hot. Keep the blade cool by dipping in water after every couple passes. Use a new belt if possible, 100 or 120 grit. A new belt will cut quickly and the dipping of the knife in water will not allow the blade to heat up.

If your blade’s width gets down to 1/4″ throw it away. When the blade gets that thin it can break easily and that’s when you find it in your leg or wrist.

Now that I’ve thinned down the blade I need to establish the bevel. Photo (2) shows different makes of diamond hones. You want one that fits the hook size of your knife. Work the bevel into the hook (photo 3) and then the blade (photo 4). Some knives are made of a soft enough material that a small rat tail or triangle file can be used. Using files is good for serious roughing in but it produces a serrated edge, which is not desirable. If you start with a diamond hone you may never need a file.

Now that the bevel is established I go to the Scotchbrite wheel. This is a medium grit Scotchbrite. I have found this to be best for cutting quality. In photo (5) I am cutting a groove in the edge of the wheel. I have braced a rat tail file to cut the groove. The groove will allow me to thin and sharpen the hook. Using the Scotchbrite wheel, I can polish the whole blade and the bevel. You want to maintain the angle of the bevel through all the stages so pay particular attention to how you hold the blade to the wheel. Make sure the edge is down, otherwise your knife may become a permanent fixture in your forehead. Start with the hook (photo 6) and sweep through the blade (photo 7), always maintaining the angle of the bevel.

Now for the final polish. I use a medium felt wheel (photo 8) with the same groove cut in its edge as I put in the Scotchbrite. Apply green rouge to the groove edge and face of the wheel (photo 9). Use the same method as on the Scotchbrite so you can maintain the bevel angle and make as many passes as necessary to polish the edge (photos 10, 11).

Once you have achieved sharpness with the felt wheel the edge should last a long time, assuming you are using your knife carefully and cleaning the hoof. When your knife becomes the least bit dull, touch it up on the felt wheel. You should not have to go through all these steps again until the bevel gets too large. When it does just repeat these steps.

Many of the suppliers carry the various wheels, tools and materials you need for sharpening knives. If your supplier doesn’t carry them have them contact Bloom Forge or FPD for info on where to get them.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 5, Issue 4. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.

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