Creasing Horseshoes

© Scott Simpson

published in ANVIL Magazine, December 1997

The physical benefits of creasing handmade horseshoes is a controversial subject. Creasing (or fullering, as it is sometimes called) is considered by some to give the shoe added purchase, or traction. The groove formed in the shoe always fills with dirt and the old dirt-against-dirt theory prevails. I personally believe there is some merit to this idea. Regardless of what you believe, creasing shoes makes them more socially acceptable. As the majority of keg shoes come with some form of crease, people are used to seeing this type of shoe and more readily accept this look rather than that of a countersunk shoe.
Image coming soon!
Bumping up the edge
of the shoe forms a valley,
which assists in positioning
the creaser.

Creasing can be done in the straight bar or in the formed blank. Driving the creaser down into the branch of the shoe displaces more metal than does forepunching. For this reason, the shoe will become wider where it is creased. This spreading out of the branch can be managed either before or after the creaser is driven into the branch. Forging the shoe back to width after the crease is formed will excessively narrow the crease if it is done too hot. A dull orange heat is required for this. I prefer to bump up the ground surface edge of the shoe before creasing the branch. The hammer is inclined to the ground surface and using a bright orange heat, the shoe is struck along the edge which creates a bevel on the edge and a valley in the ground surface. This valley just happens to be right where the groove should be placed for conventional nailing. Bumping up the edge can be done prior to forming the branch on the face of the anvil or against the horn after the branch has been formed. If bumping up is performed against the horn of the anvil, the shoe should be held at the toe while doing the right-hand branch and at the heel while doing the left side of the shoe. This enables a right-handed person to be able to strike the edge of the shoe closest to the hammer. The shoe blank can be marked with a center punch prior to creasing to detail where to place the creases. I prefer eyeball the position of the creases for improving my personal perception.

The heat left from the bumping up should be sufficient to allow you to mark the track of the crease with the creaser. As the right branch is being creased, work with the toe of' the shoe towards you. This places the branch of the shoe to your left. Work from the heel to the toe and be certain to use a lemon-colored heat as you crease. Rapidly running the creaser along the track when the color has just left the branch will smooth up any marks left in the bottom. The depth of the crease is arbitrary and commensurate with the type of nail you prefer. To square the front end of the crease, drop the handle downward and strike the edge of the tool head. Care must be taken to strike accurately while doing this, as it is easy to let the hammer head strike the handle of the tool in this position.
Image coming soon!
Crease side 1 of the shoe first,
with heels of the shoe away from
you. Reverse the shoe on the
anvil to crease side 2.

Creasing the left branch of the shoe is done with the heel towards you. Again this places that branch to your left and under the tool. (A left-handed person will work the shoe opposite these directions.) The handle of the creaser will need to be raised to allow squaring the front of the crease on this branch.

Using a forepunch in the crease will usually distort the form of it around the nail hole. I prefer to use a blunt pritchel against the anvil face as you would a forepunch. Then you can pritchel through this the same as if you had forepunched the hole. If you have creased to within 1/16" of the anvil face, pritcheling can be done without using the bottom stamp. The thicker the material, the easier it is to crease. Thicker stock retains heat better and most often you will be able to crease a branch in one heat. Some form of bottom stamp will be needed to pritchel through shoes thicker than 5/16".

As with all things, perfection in creasing horseshoes is a function of practice. The more you do the better you get. You can create your own style of creasing by shortening or lengthening the creases to suit your personal look.

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