Fabricating horseshoes using a band-saw

Thanks to David Bartley for this guest post:

One way to fabricate nearly any special shoe

For any farrier that does an amount of work of the “one off” type, (experimental shoe types in an effort to save a horses life for example), I think the bandsaw is probably one of the most under rated pieces of equipment the farrier could own. With this machine, nearly any type of aluminium shoe can be fabricated easily, wedged shoes probably being the exception.

Even with all the nice shoes on the market today to cater for these horses, there will be times where you still have to make the odd shoe for a special case. Whether they are too big, too small, too far out of balance, too contracted on one quarter to fit a bought shoe whatever the reason one day, the time will come.

Let’s take a hypothetical case of a horse that you have been called out to look at because the owner has been noticing over the last few shoeings the off front foot seems to be getting pigeon toed and a crack has started going up the hoof wall.

So as soon as you pick up the foot you know that it has been a farrier-induced problem. The off front always seems to get the short end of the deal. With less experienced farriers dropping the outside toe and therefore making the foot un-symmetrical causing stress points.

Now not for one minute do I think any farrier or trimmer goes out to do a bad job on purpose on any horse. It is all a matter of training and how much you have seen. Anyway we are getting off track.

We have decided that the horse needs a lateral support shoe and say a straight bar as well. Traditionally there are several of ways to make this shoe.

One way – you would either draw down either side of the extension piece, bend the shoe, weld, fuller, stamp, pritchel.

Another way – do the same but cut out the excess using a hot set, then bend, weld, fuller, stamp and pritchel.

Yet another way – jump up the two ends enough to form the extension and weld at the extension, bend, weld, fuller, stamp, pritchel.

As you can see what ever method you use it is still a lot of work involved making this shoe out of steel.

On the other hand to cut this type of shoe out of marine grade aluminium say, 10mm thick is a 5 or 10 minute operation with a band saw.

When you saw the horse you would have taken a template. I use manila folders and the rasp to take a pattern (template) which gives me the perfect copy of the foot, I then trace around this template on the aluminium and cut out the shape.

I then rasp this up and round the edges using an adjustable crescent set to the width I require for the shoe. On bigger horses I would use twice the wall thickness. On smaller feet I would use the formula the wall thickness divided by 2 then times it by three which gives you 2/3 wall and 1/3 for sole cover and it seems to work ok.

EG; Wall thickness 12mm divided by 2 equals 6 now times that by 3 equals 18mm that’s the shoe width.

If you are making an open barshoe well just cut it out, but if you are making a closed one then you will need to use a jig saw to cut out the centre unless you are planning on brazing it together or at least riveting together with copper rivets. Now depending whether the horse’s sole is flat or concave will depend whether you are going to leave it flat or rasp the inner border to a concave profile.

With the fullering and the nail holes, I always fuller because if a nail goes wrong you can get it out without taking off the whole shoe. I use kerosene as a lubricant and fuller the shoe cold.

Nail holes again, it’s up to you if you have the right size stamp punch them if not drill them first with a small hole to fit the shank of the nail then a larger one to counter-sink the nail head in the shoe, if you decide to drill the holes it is always handy to have a few brass or steel washers about 10mm diameter this will form a tight collar around the nail head in the round hole and helps them from coming loose. They are handy also in general shoeing if you have a shoe with a hole or two worn out from a loose shoe

So now we have the shoe made the foot has been prepared and we are ready to nail it on. Whether you believe hot shoeing is best or cold doesn’t matter because we cannot hot fit aluminium anyway.

So when I fit a shoe type that does not lend itself to hot fitting such as aluminium or the like and needs to be as perfect as I can make it this is what I do:

Using nugget, I smear the hoof surface of the shoe with a very thin layer press it firmly on to the foot take it off, look for the high spots and adjust these with the rasp. Press it on again repeat this until I’m happy with the fit.

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