As part of our research on using aluminum shoes for an article in the December 2012 issue of American Farriers Journal, we asked AFJ Facebook friends to share their advice for fitting and using aluminum shoes. Here’s a sample of the responses.
Use your hammer handle to determine what the right temp is for the aluminum shoe for welding a bar in or shaping. If the handle leaves a black mark on the shoe it's ready.
— Austin Russell
Fit the heels first, and full. Eliminate use of toe nails. Finish and dress heels for expansion.
— Joe Williams
Pratice! I remember the first time I heated a pair in my forge. I walked away and came back to find a puddle in the bottom. I thought I knew what I was doing, but ‘Ya don't know whatcha don't know!’ Practice in private, and lean on your brothers and sisters in your farrier association. They're willing to help with what they know. No one is an island. If you're like me and can't go to all the clinics, at least ask!
— Steve Burton
When it (the aluminum) feels like wet ice when you touch the surface with the Hammer handle, it’s ready to forge, but it needs to be hardened before use. Otherwise there's no durability.
— Rikkard Haggstrom
I used to use a lot of aluminum shoes. Although I agree with the need to learn how to work these shoes in a forge, I use a convection oven when I have to do a few pair at a time. You can heat it to an exact temp and just leave it till you need it. You still need to experience the aggravation of burning up the last pair though, and not all barns have electricity.
— Michael Holcombe
I was once shown how to use a piece of cardboard off a nail box to check your heat. A good heat to work aluminum is determined when the cardboard will just ignite when placed against heated stock. Use soft accurate blows when working.
— Shane “Cowboy” Raymont
Pine Mountain, Ga.
Don't overheat it. You'll wreck your forge and get heckled by your client. Don't ask me how I know. (It's those cute clients that make you lose track of time in the fire.)
— Brad Erickson
If aluminum does overheat, let it cool again and it’s fine to hit. I used to think once it was too hot that was it ruined — until recently.
— David Owens
Hamilton, Lanakshire, Scotland