How The Knives Are Made. From steel, stick and rivets to a finished hoof knife.
Being a farrier means that I don’t really have much of a background in manufacturing or factory processes. Having the skills of a farrier mean that if I really wanted a different hoof knife, I could forge and heat-treat my own blade, shape some wood for the handle, and end up with my own knife. For those that have engaged in some knife making, you know just how much this task entails. To do it in a factory on a large scale is something to behold.
To start with the steel comes in a big roll of sheet steel. It is unrolled and the blades and rooster tails are stamped out. These sheets of steel are special steel that is made by a company named Sandvik Steel. They have a patented process for making the steel that we use in the Chris Gregory Hoof Knife, and I will post a description of the heat treat process in the next blog.
The blanks are then put through a process where a robot takes each blank and does the long grind on one edge of the blade. The second grind is the start of the compound angle that makes the actual cutting edge of the blade.
The ground blanks then head to get the tip turned for the hook. Bending the hook is done by an individual worker placing the tip of the blade into an induction coil to heat it, and then it is mechanically bent. We talked long and hard about bending it a little tighter, but that has the potential of making it a break point. The hook radius that we currently have is about perfect for gouging when you clinch and still provides the radius that allows knifing of the bars, seat of corn, and protection from cutting where you don’t want to cut.
Once the hook is bent, the blade is curved to the specifications that I wanted for my hoof knives. While all this is going on, another worker is working on the handles. Each handle is cut in a jig with a circular saw to accept the blade and rooster tail. This requires a turn from one side to the other since there is a cut on both ends of the handle.
Now for the amazing part that sets the blade apart from other blades. The heat-treat process. Each blade goes through a process that takes about 90 minutes and includes being heated to transformation temperatures and chilled in a sub-zero cryo freeze unit for about an hour to make the more of the austenite into martensite.
Once the blades are heat-treated they go to riveting. This is done by a worker taking the handles and placing the blade or rooster tail into the handle, placing the unit under the riveting machine mechanism and pushing the rivets through. This process is fairly labor intensive and can take quite some time.
From riveting, the knives go into the sharpening room where they are given their final sharpened edge. This is done on a buffer machine with a leather-covered wheel. There are only a few people in the factory with this job, and it is considered quite a skilled position.
So, there are a few main components of this knife that set it apart from other hoof knives. First is that the design is different than most knives out there. The blade-handle curvature that take the blade away from the handle instead of into it allow for more access with the blade to the seat of corn area of the foot. The rooster tail is not found on other knives, and once you get accustomed to it, you find it to be one of the handiest things to ever be on a knife. Also, this knife goes through a heat-treat process that is unlike any other hoof knife that I know of. The extra time spent in the sub-zero heat treat chamber creates a tougher and stronger blade that can still be hand sharpened. It really is amazing that Morakniv/Frost can make such a superior knife at such a low price point.
If you haven’t yet tried the Chris Gregory Hoof Knife, I would encourage you to give it a try and use it on at least 5 horses. I think you will find it to be quite a great knife that is worth well beyond what it costs.