If you hear about a tool management tip that works well for another farrier, the chances are good that it's something you'll want to consider using. After all, the best shoeing ideas usually come from other farriers.
To help you do a more effective job of tool management, the American Farriers Journal editors gleaned the "best of the best" shoeing tool ideas from 24 shoers from coast to coast. These ideas gathered this winter from attendees at the International Hoof-Care Summit, the Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium and the American Farrier's Association convention should help you boost tool performance and your overall shoeing efficiencies.
1 When trimming a hoof, it pays to use more than one style of knife. A wide web blade knife, a narrow web blade knife and two types of loop knives work best.
—Michael DeLeonardo, Salinas, Calif.
2 Use a small propane torch to soften up hard feet.
—Red Renchin, Mequon, Wis.
3 Even though hardly anyone uses one, a sole knife can help you do more effective trimming.
—Harlan Pennington, Georgetown, Ky.
4 If you use your nippers the wrong way, you can always correct the problem with rasping.
—Chris Gregory, Lamar, Mo.
5 Use a torch to narrow the width of your nipper handles so that you are able to can use them effectively with only one hand.
—Dennis Simpson, Fordland, Mo.
6 Install several drill presses in your shoeing rig so that you don't have to bother changing the bits while working.
—Bob Ivory, Butler, Pa.
7 In my 32 years of shoeing, power tools have made shoeing work easier and faster. For example, a variable jig saw that is mounted so that the blade comes out on the top can provide you with an efficient way to quickly cut pads and other materials.
8 Use a low-cost buffer wheel to sharpen your hoof knives.
—Jeff Roberts, Hemet, Calif.
9 Instead of tapping shoes, do the chore with a low-cost electric drill. Select a drill that has a bar that will automatically back out when the tap is completed.
10 Keep the face of your anvil clean. By doing so, you'll keep metal flecks out of your eyes and produce much cleaner shoes.
—Dallas Morgan, Locke, N.Y.
11 For easier movement and to protect your back, mount your anvil and forge on separate wheeled carts that you can wheel in and out of your shoeing rig. Then all you have to do is roll the equipment into the barn while saving wear and tear on your back.
—Matt Jones, Cedar Grove, Wis.
12 Add a 1- to 1/2-inch layer of coke to the bottom of your gas forge to reduce scale and increase heat. The coke consumes some of the oxygen and will add about 20 percent to the forge's performance while adding to the life of the liner. Some of the flux gets on the coke and gets consumed with the coke instead of getting on the liner.
13 Adding a small amount of a petroleum-based coke can provide more air for effective forge work.
—Chip Kendzerski , Dorset, Ohio
14 When forge welding light materials, leave a small overlap for safety reasons and to avoid a bad weld.
15 For optimum efficiency, keep your propane forge running at 8 to 10 pounds pressure. A forge will often sputter if operated at lower pressure.
16 Wrap hammer and nipper handles with tennis-wrap to reduce the amount of concussion to your hands. Available in sporting goods stores, this material is thicker than vet-wrap and will also keep tool handles warm during cold weather.
—Kevin Keeler, Star, Idaho
17 By placing a magnet on the end of a shoeing hammer, you can easily retrieve a dropped nail without doing a deep bend with your back.
—Harry Carroll, Charles Town, W. Va.
18 Hold a hammer lose in your hand. If you hold a hammer too tight, you'll injure your arm or shoulder.
—Hank McEwan, Langley, British Columbia
GENERAL SHOEING TOOLS...
19 Use a hoof gouge or an undercut gouge to keep clinches tight.
—Ken Hass, Elkins, W. Va.
20 Use a sculptor's 3 millimeter gouge to more effectively clinch feet.
—Michael Laneto, Rhinebeck, N.Y.
21 Use a pritchel to open the back side of nail holes so that the nail can freely exit the hole.
—Aaron Hanson, Union, Ky.
22 Weld a hoof gouge to the jaws of your clinchers for more effective shoeing work.
—Greg Lamb, Hillsboro, Ind.
23 Doing a good job with a gouge when clinching is important and will provide a much cleaner and stronger shoeing job that will look nice for a long time.
—Steve Kostelec, Williamsfield, Ohio
24 When using a hand grinder, belt sander, hammer or hot rasp to box the foot surface of a shoe, start at the third nail hole and work your way back to the heel. Slightly taper the shoe from where the nail hole starts to about half the width of the shoe when you finish at the heel.
—Fred Cleveland. Marshall, Va.
25 Preshaping shoes will save plenty of time and provide much more uniform shoeing.
—Chris Adickes, Cedarburg, Wis.
26 Drill extra holes in keg shoes to make nailing easier and to place nails where they are needed.
—Steve Pass, Monticello, Ind.
27 When riveting a pad to a shoe, the rivet head will often stick out in the pad. Even a rivet that is only sticking out slightly can affect a horse with underrun heels that wears a wedge pad. The rivet can lead to an abscess in the horse's heel.
To recess the rivet, use an electric soldering iron. Heat up the soldering iron and bend the heat element about 3/8 inch (90 degrees), making sure that the two prongs going around the rivet do not touch. Lay the bent tip of the soldering iron on the drilled hole in the pad and rotate it while applying pressure. This process creates toxic conditions, so don't breathe the fumes.
28 With rim pads, place rivets in the heels and between the first and second nail holes to keep the rim pad from moving under the shoe.
29 For winter shoeing, the use of contact cement to help properly place snowball pads is a quick and simple method for securing the pad rather than using rivets.
—Marshall Iles, Calgary, Alberta
ADHESIVES, HOOF PRODUCTS...
30 Use Vettec's Sole Pak in the jaws of nail cutters to keep nail ends from flying around.
31 Since adhesives don't perform well when applied in cold or extremely hot temperatures, buy a $59 plug-in hot/cold cooler that is powered through your truck's cigarette lighter. Keep the temperature in the cooler at 42 degrees in the winter and 72 degrees in the summer. In cold weather, heat up the hoof with a heat gun before applying the adhesives to the hoof.
—Tom Martin, Auburn, N.Y.
32 To check limb alignment on foals, use a low-cost laser construction level. Position it vertically on the horse's leg for accurate alignment.
33 To avoid injuring your hands, wear tight-fitting leather gloves that allow you to get a good feel for the hoof. Find the right gloves, get a pair that are tight, wear them for a day while driving to stretch them out and then they'll be ready for you to use when working on horses.
34 When shoeing in cold weather, place tools on the truck dashboard to keep them warm.
35 White lithium grease that is used by tool and die machine operators works better than cutting oil when doing taps.
—Joe Caccitore, Lockport, N.Y.
36 Use a hand cleaner to get rid of thrush stink, uric acids, acrylic refuse and also for cleaning up your hands prior to your next appointment.
37 Keep a wire brush in your shoeing box. Many feet only need a good wire brushing and a quick touch with the rasp before shoeing. Remember that the frog and sole will also need some length.
—John Sligh, Reddick, Fla.