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Hoof Trimming is hard work and often times, many trimmers set themselves up for a much heavier work day because they don’t have the right tools for the job. Here in this article, we will clarify what hoof trimming tools are necessary to not only get the job done, but to get the job done correctly and efficiently.

1.) Hoof Testers/Hoof Nippers

Having a good pair of Hoof Nippers is critical. Our recommendation would be a pair made by Philip DeHann (+1-559-269-6060).
They were patterned after the old nippers that were developed in consultation with old time hoof trimmers (from the likes of Old Nick Dolliesluger and Buster Burles) by Jack Luten. These were later built with a replaceable blade by Case DeHann and passed on to Philip DeHann.

2.) A sharp, quality Knife

Let’s face it. A dull knife is useless. It won’t cut well and will make the trimmer work much harder. Having a good, sharp knife will not only make your work easier, but more efficient as well.

The most important factor to consider when purchasing a knife is the steel that it’s made out of. While stainless steel is a popular choice, it is definitely not our preference. Stainless steel knives must be sharpened with a belt sander or a buffing wheel, as it will be harder than any file that you may have. Your file needs to be harder than your blade in order to properly sharpen it.

Steel that will not rust will not hold a good edge. When sharpened properly, a good knife should get you 100 head of cows minimum without resharpening.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that we have lost the art of actually doing this. That is why we will be putting together a demonstration video to teach trimmers the right way to sharpen their knives.

3.) Nicholson File

Nicholson Files are by far our preferred knife sharpening tool for nippers and knives. You should get a flat bastard (8 to 10 inches). The file will do a better job (considering your knife isn’t made out of stainless steel) and get more cows per sharpening. It is important to note that you should never use a cross cut file.

4.) 1 inch Belt Sander

A good belt sander will be required if you have a stainless steel knife or would prefer to not use a file.

5.) A 10 Year Titanium Wheel

Not all wheels are created equal. Depending on the grade of titanium used, titanium wheels will only last you anywhere from 1, 3, or 5 years. That is why Riley Built only uses the highest grade of titanium to manufacture a 10-year Titanium wheel. We offer 3 or 6 blade – open slots.

It is important to note that hoof trimmers should stay away from wheels made from amalgamated metals. They aren’t worth having.

6.) Grade 8 Carbide inserts/blades

The most important thing to consider when buying carbide inserts and blades is to ALWAYS go for grade 8. You will double the number of cows you can take care of from using grade 8 over grade 5 or grade 3. By doing this, you are cutting your overall spend on inserts and blades down. Don’t get suckered into buying grades 3 and 5. Always get the good stuff. You’ll get the most bang for the buck that way. It’s that simple.

7.) Grinder

The size of your grinder matters greatly when you’re working all day. Using slimmer models tends to create less cramping on the forearms and your ulnar nerve running to your elbow.

You also want to make sure that your grinder is at least 7 amps.

Our recommendations would be the Bosh Slim and the DeWalt Slim.

Pro-tip: Wrap your grinder in hoof wrap. This will deaden the vibration.

8.) 60cc syringes and needles

We have written a helpful article on hoof trimming medications. Click here to read more about that.

9.) Sharp scalpel

for lancing large puss pockets from the hairline of the hoof all the way up the leg.

10.) A bullet-proof RileyBuilt trimming chute

A durable, reliable trimming chute is critical for efficiency, comfort for the cow, and safety. Riley Built hoof trimming chutes are simply the best on the market. We have decades-old chutes that are still being used to this day. Click here to learn more about our chutes.


Don’t get caught with the wrong hoof trimming tools for the job. Time is money. You’re making less money for your hard labor if you’re improperly equipped to get through that next herd of cows as efficiently as possible.

More posts from Riley Built:

Set yourself up for hoof trimming success with these 6 must-have medications for hoof trimming.