The Whole Chris Gregory Knife Story
I don’t know how long this blog will be, but I will go ahead and put out the whole story for those that are interested enough to get through it.
In 2011 I met Morakniv – Frost Knife Company employee Carlos Silva. He was with fellow employee Henrik Erikson at the Summit. He had been looking for me to ask about my input on hoof knives. We hit it off and ended up being pretty good friends. Both these guys had come to the Summit to find out more about the hoof knife market.
At one time, Frost pretty much owned the hoof knife market in the US. Time passed and a lot (LOT) more knives came on the market. Frost watched its numbers dwindle in the new age of hoof care. At one time there were up to 15 knife manufacturers in Mora. Frost was one of the first and had been around since 1891. K J Erikson was another knife making company had been around since 1912. They fully joined in 2004 and formed Morakniv. Today they still market knives under the Frost brand in the hoof care industry.
Carlos, Henrik and I spent quite a bit of time together at the 2011 Summit and Carlos mentioned that they might come to the US for some research and development. Through email, we arranged for their first trip to Heartland Horseshoeing School in the summer of 2011.
When Carlos came, he brought Par Brask. Par is the great-great-grandson of Erik Frost, the founder of Frost Knives in 1891. Par grew up in the knife factory and knows more about knife making than anyone I have ever met. Par knows how to do everything by hand, how to figure out the assembly line process that works best, and how to get the best of those two worlds together.
When they arrived, they brought about 40 different hoof knives with them as well as handle materials and blades. We worked on a lot of feet together and came up with what I considered my ideal knife.
When they arrived, I had been using a Flatland, that turned into Swampland, that turned into Prairie Forge. This had been my main knife for years, and I also had a Cooke knife in the mix that I used with them as well. I was pretty sure I wanted a drop-blade with a little less curl than what I had been using. Once we really started getting into it, it is amazing how much more control and strength you can get using a knife that comes out of the center of the handle. I didn’t actually know this until I got into the research.
The Cooke knife had a one piece blade that ended up with a hoof pick on the end of the handle. I had found that to be really handy with everyday shoeing, so I wanted that feature in my knife. Steel was also a big issue. I wanted the knife to be soft enough to hand sharpen but hard enough to hold up. A big dilemma for every knife maker of every kind of knife. With hoof knives the problem is compounded by the fact that every climate produces different consistency of feet. If you are making a knife to slice tomatoes, it is going to have a pretty narrow range of different kinds of tomatoes. But with hooves, wow, it is unbelievable how much they are different. Not only from one part of the world to the next, but from one season to the next. It is a real problem for a hoof knife maker. We ended up using a no-stain, high-carbon steel made in Sweden. It is 12C 27 Sandvik Steel. They have a patented process where the heated steel is mixed in a different way while it is being poured into billet form, and it makes a fantastic product.
Anyway, Carlos and Par went back to Sweden and sent back finished prototypes. I made a trip to Mora and spent about 4 days in the factory learning about knife making and what it entails. I did a clinic in Sweden and ended up in a meeting with the President of Mora/Frost Knives. In the end, they offered me a signature hoof knife.
It was quite an honor, and I am very proud of this knife. While no one will ever make a knife that suits everyone, many of the people that have really given this knife a fair shake end up liking it. Since we have gone to a rounded drop-blade sort of hoof knife, the blade is a little straighter than many are used to. However, that allows for a very smooth sole once you get the hang of using it. The blade has a curve towards the spine instead of the edge, but that allows for better access to the whole foot. The pick on the end we call a Rooster Tail gets in the way for some people, but that problem is easily solved if the pockets on your apron are moved and/or the Rooster Tail is ground down a bit to suit your individual needs. As a hot-fitting aid, for cleaning the foot, helping to pick up the foot on occasion, cleaning out the crease on a reset, scraping the inside of the bars, or even knocking in a hot clip that isn’t quite set far enough when fitting, the Rooster Tail’s handiness far outweighs any problems it causes me.
It is a very usable, easy to sharpen, durable, and quality knife. If you try it, give it at least 5 horses and make sure you keep it sharp. My goal was to be part of bringing a superb quality hoof knife to the market at a price that is affordable for everyone. At $36, this knife fills the bill. You can order from the website or you can have your supplier contact me and get them into their store. They can even buy direct from Morakniv – Frost if that works for them. As always, I am grateful to be a part of this great trade, and I thank all of you for your support.
When I visited Sweden this trip, I was able to see a few items from our R&D, and thought they would be good here.