TOOL REVIEW: Foremans Tools UK Pulloffs
About The Manufacturer: Foremans Tools UK, operated by Nigel Fennell (Yateley), a farrier, successful competitor, clinician and at the time of this writing the manager of the England Farrier Team.
This review is a bit overdue. I had planned on releasing it at the end of January but sure as life goes, some things came up. So without further delay here it is.
A couple of months ago I received a set of pulloffs from Nigel Fennell in the UK. I have sort of an aversion to the small-mouthed pulloffs that seem to dominate the current farrier tool market, so I was very excited when I found these online. They seemed to have a large mouth that could get around large shoes with ease, yet still be very practical for your average quarter horse shoe. In the video advertisement for the pulloff it can be seen pulling shoes, nipping nails, clinching nails, being used as a set of hoof testers and making you lunch while you’re finishing up your last horse of the morning. After receiving the tool I have attempted to put it through the paces. It has yet to make me lunch, but given what it’s exposed to on the underside of a foot, I’m alright with that.
A little history: This tool is designed after traditional farrier pincers (pulloffs) that a century ago were commonly made out of farrier rasps (I have yet to figure out how to do this, so if you know how to forge a set of these pulloffs with jaws like this, let me know!). This style of pulloff has since faded and has been replaced by newer, smaller-mouthed pulloffs. Nigel had been making the larger-mouthed ones by hand from what he calls “Post War” Nicholson Rasps. He liked the design so much he decided to have them drop forged to make them more affordable. They are based on the original hand forged design. Nigel gets them from the factory in two pieces and hand finishes, rivets and heat treats them himself. No two are exactly the same.
Ah, the review already!
They came packed well and no problems with customs. Inside the box the pulloffs were in a plastic sleeve. In the sleeve was a card with a scantily dressed young lass modeling farrier tools (a debate ignited between my helper and I over whether or not her tattoos were real), and a little booklet giving you a rundown on the tool. Well thought out and presentable package.
Upon removing it from the packaging I noticed the tool was lighter than I thought it would be considering the jaw size (granted, I have been using some Hellers from 1900). The jaws were a large oval shape and the cutting edges lined up well and were very sharp – so sharp in fact I was temped to try them as hoof nippers (which unsurprisingly did not work very well). The edges of the cutting edge did not meet; this is really not important considering the tool’s job. The tool looked well built and well finished.
I had two initial concerns – I noticed the reins were flat and was worried about them biting into my palms, and there was a slight (1/32″ space) between the stops at the base of the jaws. The stops were really a non-issue. After all it’s a shoe puller not a set of hoof nippers, and the cutting edge will wear eventually, so you’ll want that space at the stops. Nigel told me the reins were something he went back and forth a bit on himself, deciding whether to make them rounded or flat like the original design. In the end he held true to the original design, though future runs may include rounded reins.
Under the Horse
Shoe Pulling: I broke the clinches and started to ease a large draft shoe off. The pulloffs’ jaws easily slipped under the shoe and I was able to break it free with ease. As I worked the tool down the branch I was really happy with the way it pulled the shoe away. The curved jaws seemed to really help break the bond between the shoe and hoof. I like to pull the raised nails out of the shoe while it is still on the hoof. Grabbing the nails was very precise. I felt like I was using a precision tool. I was able to grab nail heads that were barely above the shoe surface with ease. In fact I’ve used it to pull misdriven nails that have seated with relative ease as well. I’ve since pulled shoes on quite a few horses, and the precision and ease of breaking the shoe-to-hoof bond is fantastic on these pulloffs. The width of the jaws is less than you would normally see on a set of pulloffs, so I was concerned about damaging weak quarters or causing pain in thin soled horses, but I have not noticed a difference over other types of pulloffs.
Some guys use their pulloffs as their nail nippers too. The Foremans Tools pulloffs are lightweight, easy to grab, and quickly nip your nail ends off. This is however where I noticed the reins biting into my hands. Nipping draft nails, I switched to my nail nippers after a couple of nails. The Foremans pulloffs handle the job without a problem, but the amount of force required to nip a draft nail (Capewell 8 regular head, a hard nail) coupled with the flat reins was uncomfortable for me. Nipping slim blade 5, E4 or MX60 nails was not really a problem.
Blocking Clinches: I don’t carry or use a clinch block. The vibration bothers my hands and it’s one more tool I’ve got to carry around. I just use my pulloffs. Initially I was afraid to use these pulloffs to block the nails. I thought I might damage them due to their light weight. Since then I’ve really tried to beat the hell out of them and they are holding up perfectly. The build quality is good. They work great for this and have a decent edge to hold against the nail. Also, the rounded shape of the jaws lends itself to blocking under the nail head while hammer-clinching. It’s easy to find the nail head and hold the tool securely against it.
Other uses: One of the advertisements for the tool says it can be used as a hoof tester, as nail nippers and even as a clincher. Here is overview of how I thought they performed at those tasks.
Hoof Testers: The jaws open up very wide and easily reach across the average horse’s hoof. The edges are pretty sharp however, so I wouldn’t get too crazy. Would they replace a good set of hoof testers? Don’t count on it, but they can certainly be used in a pinch to find basic problems.
Breaking Clinches: I don’t think they are designed for use as a clinch cutter/hoof buffer, but they work well if you need a clinch cutter and only have your pulloffs at hand. Once again, not something you would do often, but I have found myself using them this way on a few occasions; for example while sharing tools with a helper.
Clinching Nails: They have the reach to do this. I don’t know why anyone would. If the nail is too high or too low you should just hammer clinch.
The Foremans Tools UK Pulloffs are a great tool. One of the best pulloffs I have had the pleasure of using. The large mouth design coupled with the light weight make this a tool for any farrier’s tool box. Pulling shoes with this tool seems to require half the amount of work when compared to popular small-mouthed designs on the market. It’s pricing is what you would expect from a high end tool. They are listed at £90 (British pounds) plus £25 shipping. That’s about $175 shipped. The shipping is almost a third of the total price. Perhaps a better deal can be had when they become available from a US dealer, but who knows. If you are looking for a great-looking (the only tool that has not come out of my box with a spot of rust on it for some reason), great-performing, unique tool I would definitely recommend the Foreman Pulloffs. You can get them here: http://www.nigelfennell.co.uk/foremans-tools-uk/north-america