Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Recommended Posts

Unfortunately, horseshoe steel isn't nearly knife-grade. It's the same as mild steel (1015-1020), which has low carbon content.

A good rule of thumb to find out if a steel might be good for making knives out of is spark testing. Use some sort of grinder on the steel in question; if the sparks are very bright and intense, it has a high carbon content. However, if the sparks are dull and few, it doesn't have much carbon content and won't harden much.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just fashion a horse head at one end, leave a few of the nail holes and draw it to a knife shape and grind and you have a nice letter opener. Folks seem to like them. I have never been able to figure out horse people any way, they throw away tons of horse shoes, then turn around and pay $15 for a horse shoe letter opener.:rolleyes:

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if really all horse shoes are mild steel. Reason being I've done several projects with horse shoes and have had to do some annealing in order to be able to drill holes. I'll have to dig out some of my shoes and do a little experimenting. I have a horse shoe knife out in the shop and it has a pretty keen edge. That bad boy will get some serious testing tomorrow.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What about band saw blades? I'd imagine if you have enough blade you could forge pretty mean blades out of them correct? After all they are high carbon but also flexible enough so as not to be brittle?

I also was at the dump one day and saw this thing that looked like a wagon wheel but it was like a coil of 3/4" wide 1/8th inch thick flat steel (like a ribbon sorta) coiled up. I'm not sure what this stuff is but it was hard as heck to cut. It must be some kind of high carbon steel. It looked old, totally rusted, like some kind of rustic looking thing from a farm. Anyone know what this stuff is, and if it would be good for forging into blades?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good morning, Reb, I assume the picture you wanted was of my knife. I did some spark testing on it and got some crows feet. Then I tested a chisel I made that I know is tool steel and got close to the same spark pattern. I know there is some carbon content in that shoe. However, with a file test, the file will just bite the slightest. My chisel, the file just glides. So, my thought on horseshoe knives is they are more of an ornamental conversation piece, but they will cut a rope, skin the bark off a branch and cut your own finger while sharpening. It's not a beard shaver though. People will probably buy them because for some reason their is a certain mystique about items made from horseshoes. I'll have to test some of the other shoes I have. Like I said before, I had some that I coulddn't drill and the file would just glide across it. I wonder if it was similar to "work hardening" from the horse beating the shoe. Now about the picture. My main idea was to give it a primitive look. After I had it forged, I ran the blade over a rough sanding belt to give the blade a bit of a texture. Applied bees wax and hung it up for display.

10610.attach

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I made that. It was another one of my I wonder if I can make projects. Hammered the blade into shape, a little finish grinding, sanding and sharpening and that is what I got. Avadon mentioned bandsaw blades. I've used them as well as reciprocating saw blades. They make a decent blade. You can get them pretty sharp. They work nice for patch knives, friction folders, paring knives, etc.

Link to post
Share on other sites

True that modern store bought factory made shoes are mild steel and low carbon so not the choice for knife stock BUT,
What says you can't follow the lead of multitudes of farriers and smiths down through the ages and make your own -out of material that you WOULD use for knife stock- so you wind up with a knife made from a shoe made by you?
Sart with stock of your choosing, a creaser and a nail hole pritchel and you should be in business. Make a horseshoe from scratch that looks just like a factory made shoe and go from there. Dan. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

When I was shoeing, I used primarily Diamond-brand shoes, which are mild steel. BUT...sometimes they'd have to be drilled and tapped (say, when I made a hospital plate shoe or installed removable caulks). And sometimes...I'd hit a hard spot in a quenched shoe that simply wouldn't drill. I figured it was just a matter of inconsistency in the smelting process that let some random alloy slip past into the finished "mild steel" shoe.

Sometimes I used Izumi shoes, imported from Japan, and they were perfectly consistent, never exhibiting this tendency (in my experience). They were uniformly soft and oh, boy, what a breeze to shape, hot or cold!

Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote When I was shoeing, I used primarily Diamond-brand shoes, which are mild steel. BUT...sometimes they'd have to be drilled and tapped (say, when I made a hospital plate shoe or installed removable caulks). And sometimes...I'd hit a hard spot in a quenched shoe that simply wouldn't drill. I figured it was just a matter of inconsistency in the smelting process that let so me random alloy slip past into the finished "mild steel shoe.


Sometimes I used Izumi shoes, imported from Japan, and they were perfectly consistent, never exhibiting this tendency (in my experience). They were uniformly soft and oh, boy, what a breeze to shape, hot or cold!

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are two types of steel common in the US: Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) and Electric Arc Furnace (EAF). The BOF starts with cast iron made in a blast furnace and blows oxygen through it to burn out the carbon. The EAF starts with recycled scrap and uses electricity to melt the scrap. After refining the metal, both types CAN be very clean. However, you will usually find that the EAF steel will have higher residual elements like copper, chromium, nickel, moly, etc. It can indeed be harder than the BOF steel. Or you may just have a dull twist drill.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What? A dull bit, on MY shoein' rig? It's INCONCEIVABLE!

Standard joke/gripe among my group of shoers (circa 1982) was "Sure the Izumi shoes are good -- they're made out of salvaged American battle ships!" And, now that I think about it, while they shaped readily, those heels back then needed a LOT of work to smooth 'em out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Been a blacksmith and knifemaker for twenty plus years, but never did any farrier work, and upon reading this thread my curiosity brought up the question of why, aside from cost perhaps, are horseshoes not made from a higher carbon steel than they are? Wouldn't it seem logical to make them from something that would wear a great deal longer and thus cut down on the frequent need for shoe replacement? Or does that fact compliment the need for regular maintenance as a horse hoof grows and wears? Sorry for my apparent lack of knowledge in this area, but I suppose there's only one way to learn(by asking questions). Wes

Link to post
Share on other sites

You "nailed" the answer yourself! (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Horseshoes compensate for the unnaturally rapid wear on the hooves of working animals by eliminating virtually all wear on the hooves*. However, some wear of the hooves is necessary to maintain the animal's posture and correct gait. So, horseshoeing is a two-part solution: The shoes protect the hooves from excessive wear, and the trimming of the hooves (analogous to trimming our own nails) replaces the natural wear the animal would have received without the shoes' protection. Hoof growth is such that the average cycle time is 6 to 8 weeks.

You'll hear shoers and horseowners talk about "resets," the practise of reusing and re-fitting (or "resetting") the previous shoes which aren't worn out by the time the horse's feet need trimming.

As to making shoes last longer, tool steel shoes would be a real bear (IMO) to work, but in hard-use environments (draught horses, for example) which would otherwise cause shoes to wear out prematurely, hardened steel caulks may be inserted in the shoes, or carbide granules may be brazed in place to resist wear. This is analogous to hard-facing the blades of bulldozers and so forth.

*The heels of the hoof are free to flex laterally, and thus minor wear occurs in this area. It also polishes the hoof-side portion of the shoe at the heel.

Edited by Leland
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the explaination, I thought it might be something like that. I'd imagine the nails used would wear away prematurly too as you couldn't use hardened nails and bend them on the hoof to secure them if they were hardened, so I guess it all works out the way it should. Wes

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...

In short, yes, horse shoes are mild steel, generally. I first started making these as letter openers, then decided to quench in SuperQuench. I don't draw a temper. As said in the descriptions, I sharpen my carry knife about once a month, less often than I have to sharpen my wife's Case Equestrian and all she cuts with it is Bailing Twine.
Wayne

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...