Hand Tools Archive

Steve Elliot's Wonderful and Underappreciated..

David Weaver
...planing work.

Sometimes you need to know what you're looking for, but I started woodworking with David C's sharpening video. I think the method is cumbersome now, but it allows someone who has never sharpened before to follow paint by numbers and get better edges than many experienced woodworkers (based on my purchasing of used planes that were in use, some professionally).

When I first went to freehand, I honed at 30 degrees. There were edge quality issues for someone who wanted to finish plane on something harder than softwoods. Add A2 into the mix, and the edge quality issues were greater, even with LN's wonderful A2.

I gradually adjusted my freehand up to what turns out to be about 33 until quality issues went away. I am fascinated with this not just for longevity, but because retaining edge quality makes sharpening easier the next round, and if you should happen to come up short (which probably isn't often), the remaining edge is quality and you can continue to work, anyway. At 30 degrees, this doesn't really happen.

What did I find at Steve's page? Confirmation of this, but done more carefully. Steve found that chipping was an issue with A2 at 32 degrees. with other steels, there was good longevity at 30 degrees total, but quality suffered.

How many people know that steve did this? I know Brian Holcombe encountered this because he brought it up years ago when he was using an LN plane with A2 and we all know that Brian makes wonderful planed surfaces. These little nits wouldn't bother a shaving lifter, but Brian is a surface gazer extraordinaire to the power of infinity. I'm not surprised that he found this. He brought this up right after I went through the same experimenting. I know he's moved on from there, and that's no surprise. Surface gazers sharpen a lot, quality is paramount, longevity is second. Proper wood prep or good equipment makes smoothing a low grams of wood experience, anyway.

I don't know what Brian does now, but he can hold his trade secrets close.

That brings us back to Steve. It was very nice to see confirmation of what I was seeing. I'd still be wondering maybe had I not seen that. There's a lot of information floating around that other steels hold up fine at 30 degrees, but it depends on what your expectations are. Even removing the wire edge at 30 degrees seems to be a bit more threatening than at 35. It should be simple to guess at why that is. I found the same thing even on the ward iron, that getting a photo perfect picture off of cast iron was more difficult with the 30 degree bevel. the back bevel on cast creates a small wire edge, removal of it leaves evidence.

I know this edge angle poll came up before. I'm fairly sure warren answered it, though like me, he may have had to have measured to figure out what he's actually using. Something that works is most important, what it is is secondary. If warren has found a little more than 30 is ideal, I wouldn't be surprised.

TLDR some of this, but just to say, Thanks, Steve. It may seem sometimes like not many people are reading your work, but I have seen most of it at least once, and some when looking for something that matches my own experience.

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