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New Knives Need Work

Trim the tool to fit the job before you trim the hoof


SMOOTH GRIP. When Bob Schantz gets a new hoof knife, he uses a belt sander to smooth off the edges of the handle. He says this can also be done with sandpaper. 

New hoof knives might be inexpensive but molding that knife into a pain-free, useful tool is priceless, says Bob Schantz, owner of the Spanish Lake Blacksmithing Shop in Foristell, Mo.

When Schantz brings out a new hoof knife, his first thought isn’t about trimming a hoof but trimming the knife. By grinding the edges and smoothing the handle, Schantz turns this everyday knife into an effective tool.

Getting A Grip

Before sharpening the blade, Schantz softens all of the edges on the handle and trims it to suit his hand. This can be done with sandpaper, but he prefers to use the belt sander, which is faster.

“The handle of a hoof knife can be uncomfortable and usually has crisp edges to the wood, so you need to smooth out the edges everywhere to make it more comfortable to grip,” Schantz says. “But remember, it’s just like trimming a hoof: Don’t take it all off at once. Try to leave a little extra, then you can take that off. But, you can’t put it back on — so be conservative when smoothing it.”

Smoothing the handle makes it more comfortable in your hand and you won’t need to grip the knife so hard to maintain control. When you grip harder, it puts undo pressure on your hand, which…

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