No matter what business you are in, building efficiency into your operation is a key to making more profit in less time. A shoeing business is no different from a manufacturing or distribution business. You need to look for equipment that helps minimize your labor and time spent in getting to the final product, the finished shoeing job.
There are a number of power tools and other pieces of equipment that can be worked into your rig setup that will help with everyday steps in shoeing. A propane forge is the most obvious. The ability to heat your shoes will make the shaping and modification steps much easier. Everyone runs into feet that are in such bad shape that simply punching additional nail holes will make an otherwise difficult situation easier to handle. This doesn’t require a large forge but can be done with some of the single burner units. Mounting the forge on a swing out arm or slide out will help get the heat away from the rig and more accessible for your forging steps.
A lot of horseshoers are finding a belt sander/grinder combo to be an extremely useful piece of equipment. The belt sander is more versatile than a grinding wheel as you can select coarse grit belts (24 or 36 grit) for heavy grinding and finishing of steel and aluminum shoes. A quick change to finer grits like 80 or 120 and you will have the ideal setup for maintenance of your tools. You can even cut fine belts to a narrow width and use them for sharpening knives. If you have room for a buffer you can mount various buffing wheels, like sisal, felt or Scotch-Brite® to use for final honing of your knives or cleanup of nippers, punches and other hand tools.
If you already have a grinder but it doesn’t have the belt sander you can buy an attachment like the FootPro attachment arm and mount it. They are available in a 2”x36″ or 2”x48” belt option. They are compact and have a 8” rubber drive/contact wheel that creates great belt speed and makes working shoes and tools very easy. These attachments work well on 1/2 hp or larger grinders. Expander wheels are another good option if you are primarily grinding shoes.
Don’t look merely at price when you buy equipment like grinders. You are making an investment and want to maximize your return. Buy brands like Baldor, Jet or Kalamazoo in order to get the most life from the unit. One of the easiest ways to compare quality is to check the weight of the units. A 1/2 horsepower unit that weighs 20 lbs. will not have the “guts” of one that weighs 35-40 lbs and will not perform as well or last as long.
If you are doing a lot of work with hunters and jumpers you will have to drill and tap for studs. For pleasure horses the drive in studs are excellent traction devices but require holes to be drilled. Setting up a small drill press will make these jobs much easier, with less broken drill bits and less effort. A drill press will also make the job of riveting pads an easy task.
Remember the key phrase – time is money. If you consider the time spent using inefficient tools or methods to get your work done you will see that the investment in a few key pieces of equipment will add significant profit to your bottom line.
This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 8, Issue 1. For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.