Hand Tools Archive

LN's comments are a 50/50 mix

david weaver
50% of the mix is that A2 steel doesn't make a lot of sense in chisels other than blunt chisels, and there is chipping at less than their suggested angles (but anyone who prescribes a 20 degree chisel that is truly 20 degrees should admit that edge damage occurs there - you take the trade off for less resistance).

The other 50% of the mix is that (as the farmers around me would say) a fair percentage of LN's clientele are folks who could break an anvil with a rubber hammer.

I had LN's sash mortise chisels and found them to be delightful. I've also found over the years that their A2 irons are the best of the A2 irons, but that well purchased (as in good quality) and carefully hardened and tempered O1 that's oriented properly when it's cut from stock will match any A2 in planing (beat it in the hands of an experienced planer) and will fare better in chisels.

I think LN's story with A2 is that their heat treater will not do O1. I recall when they dropped O1, there wasn't some kind of long business story about it, their heat treater just stopped or the one that was doing O1 stopped.

Every O1 bench plane iron that I have made and tempered to light straw is more productive than any A2 iron that I've had. They will just plane far further into the wear cycle (and operate longer in terms of reduced clearance thanks to using a cap iron) and continue to leave a good surface.

But, the deal with LN's chisels is half true at most. At least half of the issue is users.

There are other issues with A2, but probably each little issue (like A2 not sharpening on washita stones because chunks disappear from the edge, not because the stone isn't fine enough, but stuff is literally pulled out) just adds another strike against it. The one for it is that it is extremely stable and makes less work for LN after heat treatment because it doesn't move much.

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