Hand Tools Archive

A comment on steels.
Response To:
Re: 1000g water stones ()

Derek Cohen (in Perth, Australia)
Wiley, another point about the Sigmas: they cut most steels pretty well. My preference is similar to Bill, who advocates diamond paste - I prefer not to be fussing with a number of stones for different steels. I use several steels - such as O1 (and white steel), A2, M2, M4, D2, and PM-V11 - and for me, sharp is sharp. The esoterica of the ultimate match of steel and media is wasted these days. I am more interested in design and building. There is no getting away from the importance of a sharp edge, but at some point in the process it stops being relevant and becomes an obsession (zooming inwards forever).

The difference in the steels, in my experience, lies with how long they can hold a sharp edge (since the local West Oz woods do tend to test tool edges somewhat more than yours in the USA). All these steels can get sharp (the only exception I found was CPM 10V, and this was because I did not know how to get it sharp).

In my current project I have been enjoying using Blue Spruce dovetail chisels. The A2 steel may be considered unfashionable at this time, however they take a marvellous edge, and their thin blades are an absolute pleasure to use. The compromise is a slightly shorter user time.

We spend a lot of time delving into steels - which hold an edge longer? which take an edge better? - and I do believe that there is value in this. David's work here may turn out to be a classic. This thread may become remembered (on forums) for some ground breaking insights. However, it is not the first time these questions have been raised, and it will not be the last.

Incidentally, I will mention a piece I wrote several years ago as it does have similarities to the research method that David is using. This was comparing 6 different steels (pre-V11, sorry) and intended to look at wear in chisels when paring. It is, however, really not that different from planing ...


Regards from Perth


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