Dull knives are dangerous, no matter how you slice it! Whether cutting vegetables, bread, meat or trimming hooves, you need to use a lot of strength. A dull instrument can bounce and deflect, causing bloody hands for the operator. Sharp knives can be controlled with minimum force: they do their intended job with ease. For natural hoof trimming and barefoot trimming, a sharp hoof knife is a must. Dirt, sand and mud left on the bottom of the hoof will quickly dull any hoof knife.
An often heard question at the different natural hoof care clinics has been "which is the best way to sharpen hoof knives?"
Below a list of some of the most common sharpening devices.
1. Bench Sander
Bench sanders and grinders can be used for many purposes and they work great for sharpening knives. They are more cumbersome to haul around and require electricity.
The blade should always get sharpened from the inside (the rounded side) only.
Advantages: fast results, the spinning wheel does the work.
Disadvantages: difficult to sharpen the curved tip; easy to tilt the knife blade, resulting in an uneven blade. A very skilled and delicate touch is required. Doesn't work for Loop Knives.
2. Diamond Sharpener
Always sharpen from the curved side only. You can pull the sharpener towards you or turn the knife around and push the sharpener away from you, as the two images below show.
Advantages: easy to use, forgiving, curved tip can get sharpened as well.
Disadvantages: requires more strokes to achieve a sharp knife.
3. Chainsaw Sharpener
Normally used to sharpen the links of chain saws; a good tool for hoof knives as well.
Again, you can pull or push the instrument. As you can see, it fits nicely into the curved tip.
Advantages: works fast, you achieve a nice sharp tip.
Disadvantages: It is easy to dent the blade if not careful. The round file, especially when new and sharp, can cause some waves in the blade when not being worked diligently.
This tool was specifically developed for sharpening hoof knives.
Advantages: easy and fast results.
Disadvantages: tightly curved tips and loop knives can be difficult to sharpen evenly.
5. Sharpening Stone
The oldest knife sharpening tool. Works best when wetted with water.
Advantages: ease of use, safe.
Disadvantages: often hard to get the tip sharpened.
After sharpening the curved side of the knife, it is necessary to deburr the flat side of the knife. The stone is most suitable for that task.
Best sharpening results are achieved by holding a 30 degree angle between the blade and the instrument. For deburring, a 10 to 20 degree angle works well. You can now move the blade towards you with a light slicing movement.
When sharpening the knife, it is best to hold the knife still and move the sharpening tool across the blade. When deburring, you hold the stone still and move the knife across the stone.
Here they are all together one more time, for size comparison:
What is my favorite sharpening device? The Swissistor.
A sharp hoof knife makes the job of horse hoof trimming a lot easier.