Hand Tools Archive

Re: Anything else to test? Testing iron durability

david weaver
It'll be interesting to see if the same holds true in long grain. I have a very hard 01 iron in my infill shooter, but it is unusually good. I could not distinguish a difference in its edge life vs. V11 in the little time that I had both the skew shooter and the infill shooter.

It's dangerous to compare different planes to each other, though, as I tried using a custom plane with a V11 iron it it vs. one of my woodies that I put a wonderful unusually hard butcher iron from Jim Andrews in. I think I bought that from Jim, but he could correct me if I'm wrong - he may have given it to me. Whatever it was, I paid less than market at the worst by a substantial amount.

That reference to hardness is only relevant because as Steve mentioned last week, many (especially if you don't buy parallel irons for infills or ward irons) of the irons are not what we'd call modern boutique hardness. I'd guess the butcher iron that I have to be 61 or so. I have no other butcher irons like it.

But, there is no way that it is more long lasting than a V11 iron - yet I can do a much greater volume of wood removal with the woody than I could with the LV custom plane. I just couldn't get more than about 4-5 thousandths of beech through the custom plane trying to use it like I would a try plane and the woody won. If I were new to this game and reported that the butcher iron lasts long, I think that's false with a 99.9% probability.

Thus the long grain test in wood alternating planes. It's the closest thing I can think of that actually seems like real woodworking. Beach's test is pretty good, but it looks like he hasn't done anything for more than a decade.

LV provided that plane to me to look at and provide feedback on about the time they came out, maybe slightly before. I didn't ultimately keep it because it broke my shop rule (it sat on a shelf and got some rust on it, and if that happens, it tells me I'm not using a tool and I couldn't bear to see it rot away so I sold it and donated the money to a community outreach service here. I think that's in the spirit of what LV would've done).

After reading the initial report, I expected that while I dearly love the ward type carbon steel, I would be replacing all of my bench plane irons with the V11.

it's possible that could still happen. I am testing durability to refine what I saw. I don't think I did the planemaking work before I provided my findings to LV (which were more about the plane than the iron), but I do remember sharpening the iron on media from diamonds to washita and finding out that it's possible to sharpen it on a washita, but it grades the stone (it's a little too much for it). I was generally pretty happy with it.

I'm on the fence about making a new O1 iron to use in this test, but I think I probably will not. I expect it will fare slightly worse than the V11 and it would look vain. If it did well (like the knight iron in beech's tests), It's not like posting it would give people the opportunity to buy one.

if someone doesn't like the findings of my tests, I hope they choose to do something similar. Testing things can teach you a lot, as long as it doesn't replace making (someone else may choose to do that. I'll do the testing when I don't feel like making anything but don't feel like sitting on the couch, either).

It filters back sort of to the comment you made below, and I agree with - more or less, it's more important that an iron is a reasonable spec and not defective than it is that it's some theoretical ideal.

I think we could probably tolerate the clifton irons here, even, but I've never used one that I can recall (they were ungodly expensive stand-alone retail here - something like $90). I'd refer to the irons that came in the primus planes as stripemasters - not long wearing, and never a clear surface, but lots of people like those OK (in that case, again, the manufacturer made claims about wear, but unlike LV, I don't think they did any testing, because those are some of the worst irons I've used).

© 1998 - 2017 by Ellis Walentine. All rights reserved.
No parts of this web site may be reproduced in any form or by
any means without the written permission of the publisher.