No matter what steps you take or whether your nippers are top of the line, they are going to dull from normal use. This leads to the need for sharpening the blades. However, improper sharpening can ruin a set of nippers.
Donald Jones, owner of NC Tool Co. in Pleasant Garden, N.C., says it is fine to "touch up" the blades with a light sharpening from the inside, but if you lack the experience to sharpen, let someone else do it.
"More nippers are messed up by people filing the tools themselves," believes the Hall Of Fame shoer. "When they send them in to be rebuilt, the person rebuilding them needs to take off more than what's usually necessary.
They sharpen from the outside or get them too steep.
"By the time the guy who rebuilds it gets to them, they are so bad that there's probably only one or two rebuilds left, when you could have had four." If you want to attempt sharpening, nippers, read tips from Donald Jones at www.americanfarriers.com/ff/0110.
"When you file and take the blades down too much, they'll be too far apart," says Roth. "Then you file the stops, but that's just going to make it so your blades don't line up evenly — they're coming in at an angle."
If you do happen to file the stops down, the handles will get closer together. When this occurs, Dr. Doug Butler of the Butler Professional Farrier School in Crawford, Neb., says to place the handle over the anvil's hardy hole and hit it with your rounding hammer to provide that wider grip.
Jim Goede of Norco, Calif., uses his Dremel with the chainsaw sharpening attachment to give a quick touch up of his nipper blades.
"It is necessary here in the summer when the horses' feet get so dry and hard," says Goede. "You can go through nippers and rasps in half the time you do in the winter months. I try to get my nippers rebuilt before they are totally trashed to get a bit more life out of them."
Trumansburg, N.Y., farrier and Delta Mustad Hoofcare Center clinician Steve Kraus keeps his nippers sharp by lightly sharpening them with a diamond hone.
Although manufacturers warn against it, he prefers to file the stops.
As the blades pitch in, Kraus flattens the topside by running them against a belt sander.
"You can also realign the blades by lightly filing across both blades at once, while the nippers are about 3/4 of an inch open," explains Kraus. "I also will heat the handles with a torch while holding the tool closed with a small C-clamp, behind the rivet. I readjust the spread to my own liking and then quench the nippers in oil."
However, he warns that you should avoid following his advice if you hope for the manufacturer to honor the warranty.
"If one does any of this, the manufacturers will not and should not do any warranty replacement," says Kraus.
The variety and differences between hoof nipper models leads Joe Lopez, Jr., of Lopez Farrier Tools, Inc., to say it is too difficult to describe a general approach for sharpening or rebuilding hoof nippers.
"It is too difficult, it is individual," explains Lopez, who rebuilds hundreds of riveted tools each year. "The only way I can help someone is by answering a question about specific nippers. It is a hard thing to learn rebuilding because every model is different, especially the newer ones made in Pakistan and China."
He believes the best way to start learning about nippers is to go to demonstrations at clinics that focus on refurbishing riveted tools.