Most of your tools have a relatively long life. With proper care and periodic maintenance, sharpening and repair, many farrier tools can last for years.

But the rasp is one tool that has a much shorter, useful life than most of the others in your toolbox. Because of their relatively short life span and
constant use, rasps are a major expense for farriers.

No rasp will ever last as long as a hammer, but there are ways you can extend the lives of your rasps, cutting your expenses quite a bit over the course of a year.

Inspect That New Rasp

Manufacturers take great care to make sure new rasps are received in perfect condition by separating them in their box with cardboard dividers and wrapping them in special rust preventive paper. To maximize the life of your rasp, you need to take the same amount of care by using and storing it properly.

The first thing to do after you unwrap a new rasp is check it for excessive oil that may be trapped in the teeth. Oil left in the teeth as part of the manufacturing process will help prevent rust, but will also cause the rasp to clog prematurely if it’s not cleaned out before use. A stiff brush works very well for this.

A Note On Safety

Although some rasps come with rounded ends that are coated with soft rubberized grips for farrier comfort, most are furnished with the standard “rat tail” tang that is designed to accept a handle. For safety reasons, standard tang rasps should never be used without having a correctly sized, secure-fitting handle.

Serious accidents can result if you allow the sharp point of the tang on the rasp to be exposed while you are working on a hoof.

When a handle is correctly sized, about three-quarters of the tang length should drive into the hole to provide a stable and secure fit.

Clean The Hoof

Small stones and sand on a horse’s hoof will severely shorten the life of any rasp. Make sure the hoof you are working on is always as free of grit as possible.

Keep a soft cloth or brush handy to clean off the hoof just before you begin to use the rasp. You will be rewarded with much longer rasp life.

Use Proper Technique

In order to prevent unnecessary tooth wear with a rasp, make sure you apply and release pressure on the rasp at the correct time. Use a medium pressure on the forward cutting stroke, releasing the pressure and ideally lifting the rasp from the surface of the hoof on the backstroke.

Keeping any type of pressure on the rasp on the backstroke does very little cutting and causes the top edges of the teeth to wear prematurely, greatly shortening the effective cutting life of the rasp.

Clean Rasps Stay Sharper

Every rasp eventually develops a buildup of hoof residue if not cleaned. This buildup causes a decrease in cutting efficiency, so you end up running the rasp over the hoof more times to remove the same amount. Every stroke reduces the sharpness of the rasp. To keep your rasp cutting as efficiently as possible, regular cleaning with a file card is essential. A file card with a wire brush on one side and a soft bristle brush on the other is best for this.

In The Toolbox

At the end of the day, clean your rasp with a file card to remove debris, dirt and dust. Spray it with a light coating of a rust preventive, such as WD-40. Wrap it in the rust preventive paper it came in and place it in your toolbox, protected from contact with any other tools or steel surfaces. A plastic or aluminum tray is an excellent place to store your rasp for maximum protection.

Critical Points To Remember

  1. Before using a new rasp for the first time, clean off any oil with a stiff brush.
  2. Use the rasp only with a properly sized, securely fitted handle in order to avoid serious injuries to your hands.
  3. Make sure hooves are as clean  as possible before using the rasp on them.
  4. Apply medium pressure when pushing the rasp across the hoof, releasing the pressure on the backstroke.
  5. Clean your rasp periodically with a file card.
  6. Before putting your rasp away for the day, clean it with a file card, then spray lightly with a rust preventive such as WD-40.
  7. Store your rasp separately from your other tools in an area of your toolbox that’s lined with aluminum or plastic.