The Nitty Gritty On Compounds

Understand the condition of your blade and what needs to be accomplished before choosing a compound

When selecting a sharpening or polishing compound, there is a broad spectrum of colors from which to choose. But what do the colors mean? In what situations should they be used?

“You have to understand what you’re trying to do and recognize the condition of your blade before you can pick the right compound,” says Neal Baggett of Baggett Hoof Knives in Bishop, Ga. “Most people let their knives get too dull and then they have to get more aggressive. It turns from a sharpening process into a refurbishing process.”

Popular Compounds

In the simplest of terms, a compound’s color indicates its coarseness. The following is a list of compounds and rouges that farriers might use.

Farrier Takeaways

  • It’s important to understand what you want to accomplish, as well as recognize the condition of your blade before selecting the compound.
  • There are varying degrees of coarseness, even within one color compound.
  • A stropping or honing compound is a softer consistency and is easier to apply to a buffing wheel.

Black. The most aggressive cutting compound, this abrasive consists of emery minerals to removes scratches, small pits, rust and burrs from ferrous metals.

Brown. An aggressive compound, tripoli is used for both buffing and polishing. It removes surface marks on all non-ferrous metals. It also can be safely used on stainless steel.

Gray. This aluminum-oxide compound provides a good cut and color. The coarseness is beneficial for blending or removing file marks.

White. An aluminum-oxide compound, white provides a light level…

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Jeff cota 2023

Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 30 years. A native of Maine, he is the editor of American Farriers Journal.

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