Sharp, Sharp, Sharper!

Here’s an easy-to-follow hoof knife sharpening process to make trimming much more efficient

The slower speed of a buffing machine will help you do a much better job of sharpening hoof knives compared to using a grinder.

More farriers are relying on low-cost buffers and sharpening wheels as a more effective way of sharpening and honing hoof knives. It’s because many shoers have found that sharpening a knife with a file often leaves the blade rough, which makes trimming much more difficult. 

Roy Bloom says it’s important to make sure you purchase a buffer rather than a grinder for sharpening hoof knives and other farrier tools such as nippers. The Drummond, Wis., farrier and toolmaker says a grinder will normally spin too fast and result in an overheated blade. The main difference between the two units is that a buffer unit runs at a much slower speed.

“To maintain the proper temperature on the knife blade, you want a slow speed when working with a knife,” says Bloom. “Keep a constant feel on the knife and constantly dip the blade in water to maintain the proper temperature.”

Your fingers, in effect, act as a temperature gauge, and will warn you when the heat is reaching a point that could damage the knife.

“Your fingers can withstand about 120 degrees of heat, and once the temperature goes higher than that, you start to lose temper in the blade,” says Bloom. “The idea is to keep the blade cool and slowly sharpen the knife.”

Bloom suggests installing a sharpening wheel on one side with a…

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Frank lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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