Hand Tools Archive

Subject:
"How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm... "

David Barnett
" ...after they've seen 3V?"

"You say "...forward-thinking craftspersons who stand to realize significant gains by upgrading to 3V and M4 steels..." Really?"

Really.

"What would those gains be?"

I already gave you one, but here's another. Luthiers gain a reasonable alternative to dependence on big expensive, inelegant, noisy drum sanders to thickness and surface some pretty daunting hardwood alternatives to rapidly disappearing species previously held as the standards for classical and other non-electric guitar backs and sides.

The introduction of these big-iron solutions to smaller luthieries is, for many, an economically unfeasible and aesthetically offensive intrusion on how they prefer to perform their craft. Not to all, mind you -- for some it is the answer, and Grizzly will be only too happy to deliver one to whomever needs or wants it. But again, it's nice to have options. So while you may think and you may wish and you may say they don't need these steels, they may decide otherwise, and really Larry, who's to say they're wrong?

Are they simply succumbing to "nonsense"? Or falling for the egregious and deceptive promoters of the 'new steels' luridly luring them through their seductive siren-songs of mythical long-lasting edges, beckoning them from furtively hiding in the closets of their never-having-learned-to-properly-sharpen shame?

Don't forget, Larry, if you, or others not yourself, needed, or perhaps just wanted, no matter how foolishly to some ways of thinking, to use a few of those fabled Australian hardwoods, you (and they) could find them from numerous sources right here in the US of A, and for that matter, order them one day and get 'em the next direct from the source -- even overnight. Ain't modernity wonderful?

Which brings me back to your as-yet-to-be-substantiated contention that this not-quite-a-plethora of 3V and M4 tools not-exactly-flooding the market, and not-yet-exactly-threatening to unseat the established order of older tool steels, these exotic, as you say, powder steels being promoted as the panacea by misguided poseurs or greedily opportunistic hand tool sellers ("I'm sure abrasive manufacturers and knife makers are giddy with glee over the prospect of new products and markets."), or worse, a cabal of diamond-pushing post-modern industrialists seeking to beguile the old order with their promises of a sharpening-free Utopia. I still remain dubious. If, however, you meant:

"When weíre out doing workshops I see some of those who buy into things like D-2 plane irons. Invariably they are those who havenít learned basic sharpening or have a sharpening system thatís so cumbersome they canít manage it."

then I may have misunderstood, as I truly thought you were referring to the M2, M4, 3V through whatever-V powder steels are interminably emerging on the modern tool steel buffet, and will let it lie. It confuses me though, that you would have meant all high speed steels, because, as you have noted in your post, HSS has been around for a long time, so I can't quite grasp how you would believe they're common enough yet refer to them as exotic. Makes me go "hmm". D2, eh? Darn that Joel and his Gramercy blades! :)

Just today, I received a PM from one WoodCentralian who made the excellent (and for me, previously unconsidered) point that HSS blades make sharpening even easier and more foolproof for beginners, rather than the reverse, as it removes the risk of grinding away the temper. Take the hollow ground blade straight from the grinder to the diamond stone, indexing the hollow for the few strokes required at 600 grit, then to the 14,000 grit for those self-indexing strokes. Voila! No jigs, no bother, no "sharpening system thatís so cumbersome they canít manage it." What could be faster or easier? So dies yet another specious argument against HSS presenting impediments to beginning woodworkers. The pros just keep piling up to the cons.

Of course, you won't get to do it nearly so often, if that's a drawback. I had never really thought of more-frequent sharpening breaks as a welcome feature of less durable cutting edges, as you mentioned in a previous post, but hey, I never had to work as hard as what you've described, either.

Of course, no-one who understandably covets and purchases one of your beautiful and functional planes is likely to grouse because their edges are not as long-lasting when used on jarrah, eucalptus, Tasmanian oak, and so on. The supremacy of 18th Century English wood-bodied planes remains intact. You've demonstrably proven this. You have no detractors. But again, yours is a historically-defined niche in the overall ecosystem of hand tool evolution, and no, all progress and evolution is not to the good, as you've so rightly pointed out.

I should also like to restate that I use, like, enjoy, and respect O1 as a tool steel for hand tool making and woodworking. Wilbur's question: "For me, the issue is whether this is a useful or needed thing to have in terms of woodworking.", is valid but stops short of delineating what types of woodworking; carving, architectural reproduction, period versus modern studio movement cabinetmaking, and so on, and what wood species are apt to be involved. So, in that more limited context, if you're working polite, friendly domestic or otherwise (my personal favorite is pear) hardwoods, do you need to buy HSS chisels and plane blades? No. I agree. No. But if you'd rather, why not? For a few more dollars you extend the range of what's doable, and for some, what's enjoyable. Again, where's the harm, I ask you?

In this sense, it's rather up to each craftsperson to define these needs for their own ways of working wood, within their own milieu. There will be many valid and viable paths and each should be respected as merits each's individual expression. No-one should be too put off or threatened by such diversities. The free market of ideas and ways of working will ultimately determine what craftspersons will eventually choose for their tools and materials, and examining what's best, what's sensible and what is not, and the myriad issues central and peripheral, while endlessly entertaining and entirely valid, will sort itself out in praxis.

And isn't it so totally amazing that in just a couple decades we've become so wonderfully interconnected and accelerated in learning about the staggering choices available? This is intellectual wealth beyond dreaming from where I started. For years, the Whole Earth Catalog drove my interest and understanding of technological diversity and possibilities in craft.

I guess what it comes down to in my way of seeing things is freedom versus limitation. I see technological novelty as freeing, increasing choices, extending possibilities and opportunities for doing things in new ways with new materials. Why should anyone wish or need to limit exploring such innovations?

And don't think I'm advocating for each and every new thing that comes along. Certainly not! A vast graveyard of the economically, artistically and aesthetically unviable corpses will be left behind in the wake of that grimmest reaper, Natural Selection. Even so, freedom means we each get to choose, so the good enough will ever remain good enough for those who decide it's good enough for them. But to decide what good enough for others is folly.

"High speed steel isn't all that new, it's been commercially available for a century. It was adopted by the metal working industry quickly but wasn't used in woodworking hand tools."

Not until the advent of cheap diamond, as David Weaver quickly pointed out.

"Oh, BTW, tool steel is pretty old and the availability of the abrasives to sharpen it changed over time. The steel didn't evolve around the abrasives, if anything, it's the other way around."

But who would manufacture a steel that couldn't be sharpened? You're right, though, both tool steel and HSS have been around and HSS has been fully grindable for its original intended machine tool use for a long while. What drives its crossover use for hand tools nowadays, though? Waterstones and diamond, and more available hardwood species than ever before.

And no, I didn't mean to imply that these tools were ever developed for such a piddly market segment such as hand tools. Again, who would manufacture and market an edge steel that can't be sharpened, Larry? Yes, my rhetoric, as you are right to point out, was poorly applied. Mea culpa.

One thing, though, I need to reiterate that I'm distinguishing (rather inartfully, perhaps) between older, vanilla HSS used for hand tools, and the newer powder steels, and within the latter, between the 3V and M4 types and their less-used 'S' counterparts, the high-percentage Cr-V powder steels. I apologize for any confusion deriving from my lack of clarity and specificity.

"We use M-42, M-2, C-2, C-5, C-6, O-1, W-1 and all kinds of abrasives in our shop. We try to use what ever is appropriate."

You make my point, exactly. It makes perfect sense to use the minimum that's necessary to get the job done. And that does the job for you, as you've intelligently and appropriately determined. You've found your "good enough". You'll have to admit, though, that what's good enough for you might not be good enough for everyone else.

I should further acknowledge that David Weaver said it better and more succinctly in his post. His cocobolo anecdote effectively argues for migrating to newer, more versatile steels:

"I'd get just a few good swipes out of an A2 iron or a high carbon iron in a smoother (then to fairly dull and then just plain unable to use), and on the second one, just ordered a muji to finish the work. I finished the fitting work on that plane and the last one (a panel smoother) with two sharpenings."

Again, another right-here-at-home example of "significant gains".

Oh, and there's his mention of Thomas MacDonald's "...it's murder on the edges, you'll be doing a lot of sharpening". Is that three or four? I've lost count.

And further, David offers:

"I think 3V chisels will get to a point they're not that expensive. Once they do, there's really no reason for someone who isn't a beginner to not buy them unless you don't like they style they come in."

...which hardly seems irrational.

So while I may have done little to extend what I'm arguing beyond his personal experience and choices, when has that ever stopped me?

I guess the overarching question that remains to me, after "where's the harm?", the one that puzzles me and presumably others -- the one I can no longer avoid, is "what's it to ya?" Is it costing you money? I hope not. Does it complicate what you wish others to believe or to use? Or does it simply offend your hand tool sensibilities? Which, by the way, I consider an entirely valid sentiment, moreso than thinking it's just damned wrongheaded to try or accept these newfangled monstrosities. And while that's not something I necessarily intellectually respect, I can accept it as an attitude I've had practice dealing with.

Perhaps you altruistically and laudibly strive to spare the unwary and gullible from wasting their time and money on what you genuinely believe are worthless products and unpromising paths. I'd still fervently disagree with your conclusions but at least it would make sense to me.

One beneficial thing that comes from such examinations of differences is that I've learned new things, both on this thread and in email, and am gratified to see how many are exploring these newer steels, which I can only see as positive for woodworking and future discussions on WC Hand Tools.

And as I can recognize that I've yet again been somewhat prolix, I'll wait to respond to your remarks on diamond films for sharpening steel hand tool blades.

"Apple and apples? I don't think so."

I still think so, but I'll compromise: tomatoes and tomatoes. Same question, though: "How'd you like them 'maters?"

Messages In This Thread

CPM 3V vs. CPM M4 ?
Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Re: Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Re: Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Re:Length of thread
Re:Length of thread
How do you sharpen your nib,Marv? *NM*
Re: How do you sharpen your nib,Marv?
What good would a short answer do? :D *NM*
Yet another new metal (long)
Priceless
Way to go Bill !
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Re: Sticks and stones... sounds like woodworking
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Re: Bravo!
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Re: Bravo!
Christ all mighty...
Finally!
So...
Your moderator, reading this subthread... *NM* *PIC*
But Bee-wee,we wuv you...
Re: But Bee-wee,we wuv you...
"...but I know he does..."
We do what we can
Re: CPM 3V vs. CPM M4 ?
that is the problem
Re: CPM 3V vs. CPM M4 ?
Re: CPM 3V vs. CPM M4 ?
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to repeat a chisel dulling discussion
Re: to repeat a chisel dulling discussion
Re: CPM 3V vs. CPM M4 ?
I`m just happy...
Wait...
Metals
Re: Metals
must consider the whole process
Re: Metals
Re: Metals
As my dentist once said...
Bring on the Novocaine! A brief missive.
Cr-V question, then...
Re: Cr-V question, then...
realize significant gains???
View from the peanut gallery
In a nutshell (well, for me, anyway)
hardness, toughness
Re: hardness, toughness
could you explain the numbers?
You bet.
Re: You bet.
Re: You bet.
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Re: You bet.
Where on earth? What on earth? Huh? Say whuh?
Since when has mass acceptance and ...
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Those are the numbers! *LINK*
Re: Those are the numbers!
I'm confused, Warren
Re: I'm confused, Warren
Re: Those are the numbers!
I'm impressed!
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"Sherman, set the Way Back machine for... "
Re: "Sherman, set the Way Back machine for... "
Why diamond wheels aren't used to grind steel
Re: diamond wheels - that's what I was after
Grinding Temperatures
Steve knows stuff.
Diamond wheels? Who brought up diamond wheels?
Re: Diamond wheels? Who brought up diamond wheels?
Your closing line reminds me of Dan O'Neill,
There I went again.
Re: There I went again.
Well, I was thinking about a diamond wheel. :) *NM*
Re: The diamond and HSS thing...
Re: The diamond and HSS thing...
Re: The diamond and HSS thing...
It's not so much a file protection thing as a... *LINK*
Just out of curiosity,
Re: Just out of curiosity,
Re: Just out of curiosity,
Re: "Sherman, set the Way Back machine for... "
Can you expand this thought Warren?
Good catch! *LINK*
Aim Hardness for 3V
Interesting and valuable *LINK*
3V Heat Treatment Schedule
Very helpful, Steve
Cryo
"How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm... "
The good stuff
I like bacon. :@) *NM*
Re: I like bacon. :@)
Gotta agree Warren
Re: The good stuff
Re: The good stuff
Re: "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm... "
Heat treating -- the simple and not so simple
Re: Heat treating -- the simple and not so simple
Tom's right, Pam -- but wait! There's more! *LINK*
Re: Tom's right, Pam -- but wait! There's more!
Re: Tom's right, Pam -- but wait! There's more!
Re: Tom's right, Pam -- but wait! There's more!
Steps to completion
Thanks, Bob, understood. *NM*
Re: Tom's right, Pam -- but wait! There's more!
Work hardening?
Re: Work hardening?
Re: Tom's right, Pam -- but wait! There's more!
"All your base are belong to us"
Re: realize significant gains???
BTW #2
Re: BTW #2
Suggestions Larry? *NM*
Let he who is without sin...
Re: realize significant gains???
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A model for decision-making
Re: realize significant gains???
Re: realize significant gains???
Re: realize significant gains???
Re: realize significant gains???
Re: Bring on the Novocaine! A brief missive.
Hi, Andrew! (and a couple things I left out above)
Re: Hi, Andrew! How do they make ...
Here ya go, George. *LINK*
Re:Thanks David, now I know.... *NM*
Different worlds,different approaches
Re: As my dentist once said...
Tow truck? Who needs a tow truck? *LINK*
Re: Tow truck? Who needs a tow truck?
Oh, see? I handed you a straight line back :D *NM*
Re: Metals
Re: Metals
Re: Metals
Re: Metals
Re: CPM 3V vs. CPM M4 ?
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