Articles in past issues of the Natural Angle have focused on techniques, tools and other methods of bringing more efficiency into the daily routine of shoeing horses. We’ve assembled some images of the more common daily applications for various abrasives equipment. You have to decide what kind of equipment works best in your rig and your practice. But don’t undervalue the time savings that can be realized.
For years, everyone has used a second rasp, finishing file and/or sanding blocks to put the final finish on the outer wall. Now there is a hoof buffer that can help you get a perfect “10” on your wall finish. This hoof buffer attaches to a cordless drill; we’ve heard that an 18v or higher unit perform well. The buffer has an inflatable bladder that holds the sanding sleeve in place and allows you to follow the contours of the wall. Sanding sleeves are available in 60, 80 and 100 grit. You will need a small air pump when changing sleeves. As you can see from the images, the finish you get is excellent, all the way to the coronary band – and with far less effort than files or sanding blocks require.
A belt sander is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in today’s farrier rig. It can be used to bevel toes, heels or make other modifications to a shoe. If you are shaping cold this is a lifesaver. Working hot you might begin your bevels with the hammer as you shape the shoe but the belt sander puts a nice blend and final appearance on it. If you are using shoes that are wider in the heels to give more support, a belt sander can be very helpful to get the bevels you need to blend the fit and safe the shoe. There are a number of belt options for shoes: The 3M Cubitron is probably the best quality and life. Ceramic belts are also durable with a very hard crystal. Zirconia belts would be the low end for grinding shoes. Aluminum Oxide (brown) belts are even less expensive but don’t last as long. However, they work very well in the finer grits for dressing tools. Depending on how aggressive you want to be, a 24, 36 or 40 grit belt will usually work very well for shoes. If you want a smoother finish you can go to 60 or 80 grit.
The expander wheels have proven to be a great choice for a shoe grinding attachment. They don’t take up as much space as an arm and the belt speed is phenomenal on the 10” and even the 6”. Belt sander attachments like the FootPro 2”x36” or 2”x48” are popular because of the quick belt change feature and the 8” contact/drive wheel also creates excellent belt speed. You get at least twice the belt speed of the average belt sander with a 3-1/2” drive wheel. Be sure to use a grinder unit that can handle the work. A 1/2hp motor or larger will perform well unless it is one of the very light economy models sold at the mass merchandisers. Baldor has a number of options including the new 1/2hp two-speed unit. It can operate at 3600 or 1800 rpms so it can work well for your heavy grinding or your knife sharpening.
Sole Relief and Heel Checks
Many shoers are putting some sole relief into their shoes and adjusting the heel check to be sure of good cleanout. It can be a little difficult getting to the inside edges with a belt sander but a 4-1/2” flap disc on an angle grinder is one option. Perhaps a better option if you have a bench grinder is the new FootPro™ Double Sided Bench Grinder Disc. It should only be used on a bench grinder because of it’s design but it works like a charm. The recommended grits and types of crystal are the same as for the attachment arms and expander wheels.
A belt sander is useful for maintenance and repair of tools. For tools you should use different belts from those used on the shoes. Most of the time your work on tools is not aggressive, unless you have let them go for too long. Zirconia belts work best when the grind is very aggressive, like the grind on shoes, which is constantly breaking the crystals. With tools you are not going to get good results with Zirconia. It will be difficult to break the crystals and you will end up with a glazed surface on the belt. The Aluminum Oxide belts are a better choice. You can also get an orange belt made by 3M that has a coolant already added. These belts are more expensive but they will last and help minimize the heat build up. The grit choices are many, but an 80 grit belt is a good starting point for the rough in, then you can go to 100 or 120 for a smoother finish. There are belts much finer than this if you are looking for an even smoother finish. The pictures indicate a few tool situations that fit into the belt sander scope. All of your struck tools should be dressed on the struck end to avoid chipping or pieces breaking away after severe mushrooming. Fine tuning your pritchels and punches and even clinch cutters is a very simple chore with the belt sander.
This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 8, Issue 2 . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.