Proper Filing Extends The Life Of Nippers

That trusty pair of nippers you depend on so often will gradually dull with use, until one day you realize that you’re having a tougher time trimming the hoof wall than you should. It’s best to sharpen those nippers before that day arrives.

Exactly how you go about that will determine whether the nippers return to peak performance for an extended period or if they’re a big step closer to the trash bin.

“What destroys the most nippers is the way that horseshoers file them,” says Donald Jones. As an International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame farrier and the owner of NC Tool Company, he ought to know. He’s used a lot of nippers over the years, and he routinely refurbishes the tools sent in by farriers across the country.

A good sharpening that prolongs the life of the nippers isn’t difficult, Jones says. “The secret to making the nippers cut well is to keep the shoulder area thin. Most people get their edges too blunt,” he says. “The actual front edge, the cutting edge, will feel sharp, but there’s so much metal back on the shoulder that it makes for resistance when you’re trying to cut the hoof.”

He offers the following advice for best results:

  • Secure the nippers horizontally, with the lower handle firmly in a vise. Pull the top handle upward to open the head of the nippers and expose the underside of the jaws.
  • Identify the area to be filed. Always file the underside, or inside, of…
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