Hand Tools Archive

Jack planes are a nice exception
Response To:
Re: Window of hardness ()

David Weaver
It's funny you mention a soft iron in a Jack plane. In my travels in planemaking, I've run across some soft irons. I never put a new iron in my wooden planes because I don't like the way that they look. That leaves me picking up irons on Ebay or from English tool sellers.

Two of the older irons are often soft. Dwight and French, and butcher. They work great in Jack planes, and to some extent try planes. A hard iron in a Jack plane really gives no payoff. In a smoother, yes, because clearance is so critical, but not in a Jack plane.

Not all butcher irons are soft, but many are. I've only had two dwight and French irons and can't conclude anything for sure with two. The very soft one that I have encourages the user to set the shaving thicker where clearance is less of an issue. I think I learned more about productivity from soft irons than hard ones.

My favorite try plane iron is a butcher iron that's not at all soft, and came from Jim Andrews who I'm assuming is the Jim Matthews posting on here.

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