The development of the L&L hoof-knife was the result of a chance meeting of John Lavier a long time professional farrier who has entertained the idea of building better hoof knives for some time and Lyle Brunckhorst of Bronk’s Knifeworks a knife maker who has practiced the trade since1976.
John has had a long time interest in cutlery, had made a number of personal knives for friends and his own use, and came to the shop of Bronk’s Knifeworks to inquire about the knife making lessons offered. The result was a solid friendship and the birth of the disposable blade hoof knife. Note that this is not a disposable knife as many are familiar with, only the blade is replaced and you keep the handle, saving you money.
John is a widely recognized farrier who invented the Easy-Plug repair kit. He is considered an expert in the field and is more than qualified to design a working knife that will meet the needs of professional and part time farriers alike. The knife has to be comfortable in the hand even after hours at work, the blade has to be configured correctly to avoid injury to the horse, cut easily, outperform the competition and it has to be affordable.
One of the greatest hurdles to over come was also the very reason they took on the challenge in the first place. Sure it would make sense to build a handle that you could change the hoof knife blades, but why not make better blades as well?
Now the problem is, if a blade is simply hardened to the point that it will hold a superior edge, it could break and injure the farrier. This may be one of the reasons that the majority of hoof-knives are so soft.
Lyle is a member of the American Bladesmith Society and they require each member to undergo a test in order to become a qualified journeyman bladesmith. This test requires the apprentice to make a test knife by forging a blade, heat-treat it and install a handle prior to sharpening to a razor edge. The actual test includes cutting a 1” free hanging rope with one swing to ensure that the blade has a proper blade geometry, then chopping a 2X4 board in two twice with it and still be able to dry shave the hair from the testers forearm. Finally the blade gets clamped in a vice and bent over to a full 90 degrees. If the blade is not forged and heat-treated properly it will either fail the cutting test or break during the bending process. Lyle has been teaching folks how to make this test blade in his Knife making class for several years.
Lyle uses the same technique to heat treat the hoof knife blades as he did on his ABS test knife. This results in a tough blade that will hold an edge much longer and remain safe in use.
At first glance, you may wonder about the cost of using this knife. The handle takes more time to build and therefore the cost of it exceeds the competition’s price for their hoof knife.
The answer lies in the fact that farriers use or rather wear out a number of these knives each year. This is a substantial cost to the farrier.
With the replaceable blade knife you would have a sizable savings even if these blades were as soft as the normal hoof knife, because you would be paying for the blade only, not the whole knife. The second saving is in the blade itself lasts much longer than the conventional hoof knives. The third saving is the time saved in not having to stop to sharpen the knife as often.
Some farriers have become accustomed to sharpening their hoof knives with a file and may resist change. But sharpening tools these days are very easy to use and come by. The time and money saved with this hoof knife will far outweigh the effort to sharpen the blade.
For information about other knives that Lyle makes, log
on to www.bronksknifeworks.com.
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