Tool Prep Makes Your Job Easier

Investing just a few minutes to maintain your forging tools will save you time and frustration at the anvil

Tools are manufactured to make a job easier. Yet, when tools aren’t properly maintained, efficiency and performance can suffer. Investing a little time to keep your tools tuned up will go a long way toward helping you at work or while competing.

“Tools that aren’t tuned up just make your job so much harder,” says Matt Lybeck, a Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., farrier who was competing at the World Championship Blacksmith’s mid-April season opener in Madison, Wis. “Ten minutes spent on tools can save so much frustration later.”

Tapered Shoulders

Many wooden-handles are ground horizontally (Figure 1a above), which creates a sharp shoulder to accommodate the tool head (Figure 1b above).

Farrier Takeaways

  • A wooden handle that’s ground horizontally so that it has a shoulder is weaker and has a greater chance of failure.
  • A wooden handle that’s ground vertically has a continuous radius and allows the tool head to be tightened when wear inevitably occurs.
  • Tracing the eye on the wooden handle will help attain a more accurate shape when it comes time to grind the handle to fit.
  • Making forging tools double-ended reduces baggage weight when flying, not to mention that it boosts efficiency at the anvil by eliminating the need to search for a second tool.

“That sharp shoulder is just like having a cold shunt in your steel,” Lybeck says. “Your handle can snap off there.”

This type of design eventually will lead to an ill-fitting tool.

“After using it for a while, the tool…

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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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