Farriers rasp knife?

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Feb 4, 2017
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has anyone made a knife from a farriers rasp? I know they can be junk steel or case hardened. The two that were given to me are a Nicholson and a Save Edge which I have read good things about both. It looks like the difficulty comes in getting it to harden. I have read many things about using water, motor oil, salt water etc. I have also read to not anneal it at all: just grind it as is being careful on the temps while doing so. I'd really like to make a nice camp knife for my buddy who gave them to me but don't want to put a bunch of work into it if its a bad idea. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
 
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Dec 28, 2016
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I'm not a pro but I do have experience in this area so fo what it's worth here we go.

As for the files those are good ones. Should do fine.
As for not annealing, unless you have an awsome 2 x 72 grinder and plan on burning up a few carbide bits it's going to be tough.
I made a dozen or so file knives and had good results quenching in canola oil. Heat to just past magnetic, hold for a couple of minutes and quench.

Hope this helps.

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J. Doyle

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Also for what it's worth.....I had two Nicholson farrier's rasps and a Simmonds farrier's rasp, all three old...from the 70's the old guy I got them from told me. All three were case hardened pieces of junk. I discovered this after I spent a lot of time forging, grinding and MULTIPLE attempts at heat treating in two different shops with multiple methods, temperatures and quenchants. They were no good.

The moral of the story is that just because it says 'Nicholson' or 'Simmonds' or whatever else and is old(er).....doesn't mean it's good, in spite of what many people claim.
 
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How hard does steel need to be to file horse hooves?

Horse shoers use an interesting crooked knife to scrape the sole and clean out around the frog.

Edit: It's called a hoof knife.
ef62c05cfcb6fdc55a4c502f67210133.jpg
 
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I was given a bunch of Mercury brand farriers rasps and I was curious if the steel was any good? I snapped one off to look at the grain structure and they were super fine velvety gray inside all the way through. Hard as hell to break. Is it safe to assume that this is decent steel based on how hard it was to break and the grain structure?
 

Jason Fry

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I'm with Doyle. It's going to be trial and error, regardless of what the rasp says. If you get one that hardens, they make really good looking knives. If you get one that doesn't, they're a huge waste of time, and time is money.
 
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To test heat the files to 1500 and hold a few minutes to heat thoroughly, Quench in water then place them in a vise. Leave about 2 inches above vise jaws and clamp a crescent wrench over the file and break it off, If it snaps you have high carbon steel but if it bends it is only case hardened. This procedure was given to me from a well known Master smith and has worked well for me, Good luck.
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

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I made some rasp hawks from a bucket of old farrier rasps. I found about half the rasps were case hardened. Since I welded in a bit from an old buggy spring, it didn't really matter. For a knife it would have been a failure.
 
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How hard does steel need to be to file horse hooves?

Horse shoers use an interesting crooked knife to scrape the sole and clean out around the frog.

Edit: It's called a hoof knife.
ef62c05cfcb6fdc55a4c502f67210133.jpg

The rasp is the most expensive tool we farriers use. Our $300 nippers last a year or two, the $20 rasp a week, maybe. We look for the best cutting, longest lasting rasps we can find. We also use rasps to cut steel, both cold and hot. They can take some steel of when hot rasping! Yes , we use a hoof knife, not sure what that has to do with the post, and the one you showed is a loop knife, it the work horse hoof knife.

I was given a bunch of Mercury brand farriers rasps and I was curious if the steel was any good? I snapped one off to look at the grain structure and they were super fine velvety gray inside all the way through. Hard as hell to break. Is it safe to assume that this is decent steel based on how hard it was to break and the grain structure?
I use mercury rasps by the box, and use them for other things when they are dead. I haven't yet seen a case hardened one

To test heat the files to 1500 and hold a few minutes to heat thoroughly, Quench in water then place them in a vise. Leave about 2 inches above vise jaws and clamp a crescent wrench over the file and break it off, If it snaps you have high carbon steel but if it bends it is only case hardened. This procedure was given to me from a well known Master smith and has worked well for me, Good luck.

Sounds like a good check to me.
 
Joined
Mar 27, 2015
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I did some basic testing with a few farriers rasps a few years ago, this is what I found at the time:

I took 4 different makes of 14 inch farriers rasps and measured the Rc at the tip end and the handle end:

Save Edge 66 Tip 61 Handle
Bassoli 65 44
Mercury 55 41
Hellier 44 39

Next I sawed off the tangs. Except for the Mercury on which I used a cutting disk, the tangs were all soft enough to be hacksawed easily. I used the tangs as I wont need them to make knives and any case hardening is less likely to be present. I filed groves in each tang for identification and ground the surface of each side to remove any case hardened layer.

First I heated them to 825C, soaked for 10 minutes and quenched in oil. Hardness was as below

Save Edge 46
Bassoli 56
Mercury 23
Hellier 18

I then re-heated them all to 840C and quenched in water. Hardness was:

Save Edge 56 - 63
Bassoli 61 - 63
Mercury 50 - 56
Hellier 42 - 58

As you can see I did not get consistent hardness throughout each test piece. I am not sure why this is but I did not take to much time getting a good finish on the test pieces and they were just chucked in a bucket of water all together so quench was probably far from even.​

I have made decent knives from the Save Edge and Bassoli Rasps but I do not anneal and re-harden them. I temper to the required hardness and grind them in this state. If you have a decent grinder this is OK except when you come to drill pin holes in the tang. If you stick to small pins 1/8" carbide bits are not that expensive and will go through a hard file OK. Grind off the teeth where you are going to drill otherwise they can deflect and shatter your carbide drill.

Hope this helps, file knives are great fun - hope yours comes out OK
 
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Jul 31, 2014
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I have a couple Michael Morris knives, I second the fact that you can make great knives from some of these files.
 
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Sep 4, 2016
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The rasp is the most expensive tool we farriers use. Our $300 nippers last a year or two, the $20 rasp a week, maybe. We look for the best cutting, longest lasting rasps we can find. We also use rasps to cut steel, both cold and hot. They can take some steel of when hot rasping! Yes , we use a hoof knife, not sure what that has to do with the post, and the one you showed is a loop knife, it the work horse hoof knife.


I use mercury rasps by the box, and use them for other things when they are dead. I haven't yet seen a case hardened one



Sounds like a good check to me.
Interesting. The knife was the only one that came up in a quick search. I'm used to the type of shoeing on race horses, non harness. The little looped knife that cleans frog area is interesting. Must require a file to sharpen.
 
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