Hand Tools Archive

Bill had the chinese iron analyzed

david weaver
The one that I used in the test - green paint, brazed on bit, $11. Sometimes on sale for less. There's a black painted version for $7, looks to be the same thing.

What he found was that it was a not-quite M2. It looked similar in a lot of categories, but came up a little short in some of the alloying elements (don't have the composition in front of me, but think 3.5% where the range is 4-4.5%, etc, or 4 when the typical is 5%. )

I'm guessing this is due to being cheap and cutting costs.

You may recall that this iron more or less matches 3V, but is probably slightly easier to hone and with a wire edge that's not quite as tough.

It's also not nearly as neatly made as the iron Wiley sent me.

Result of the hardness testing if I gather correctly is that a line of strikes away from the braze on the bit end of the blade averaged somewhere slightly above 65 (that's not a misprint). These blades are a bear to flatten, and that helps explain why that is. It also helps explain why the wire edge isn't as bad as you'd expect.

I have been sharpening mine with natural stones to-date, and it works well after initial setup work is done (post grind) with a fine india stone. I had no clue they were as hard as they are, but once elements other than chromium are added, I can't really tell hardness well on natural stones. Even Chromium makes it a little bit more difficult to guess.

I will also add that if you're thinking of buying one after searching the chinese sites (like aliexpress), I don't think the average person will be able to properly flatten one if it's not perfect when it shows up. I have a dedicated manual flattening setup for recovering old irons from wooden planes, and it still probably took about 45 minutes of physical work to get the iron sent to bill in shape.

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