Hand Tools Archive

Re: V11 vs. O1 end grain - different results

david weaver
Cliftons irons don't wear as well as mine based on beach's page.

What wood again was it that you used for your testing?

I'm sure (Well, not sure, but suspect) that variance of wood in these tests could greatly favor one iron over another if you could find something that favored wear resistance vs. toughness and so on.

If you have american cherry, you can strap one of your irons into the vise, bevel off the back side, measure the shavings (collect them) and duplicate this.

If you have a look at the picture that I posted of the "box o shavings", you can see that the last shavings were continuous, but they do not have a waxy look. That and getting harder to push are the only two things i noticed while performing the test.

The O1 shavings held together ever so slightly less well near the end, but they did not fall apart. Anyone who has ever picked up this type of shavings may wonder how I got such a photo perfect box of shavings, as they will break if you pick them up and handle them. I found during the test that the plane would hold about 15 shavings. Each 15 shavings, I turned the plane over above the box and dropped the shavings in. With a separate test plane (another stanley plane with my O1 iron, I took 200 shavings off of the end of the board before starting and hoped that I'd find that 300 would be where the planes stopped. So these two irons are not the only ones that were used. I suspect that iron would've lasted almost as long).

You are right about the various irons, (most) people cannot really manipulate the hardness, and really are going to just want to know where to buy the iron in the test. I think it's critical in end grain and chiseling to compare steels at a similar hardness level if they tolerate it (O1 has just as much tolerance for hardness as V11), and this iron is what I make for myself because I'm not subjected to those constraints, and at the hardness level, it takes a better edge and holds it longer than an iron specified at 58-60. Or to be more clear, I'm more interested in what V11 does against a similar O1 iron, and not just something softer that may lead people to conclude the wrong thing (that the alloy is responsible for the performance more than the hardness).

In the long grain tests, it's clear that the alloy is more responsible for the performance difference.

If Bill confirms that he will test my O1 iron, then we will know the hardness for sure. I oil quenched it after heating it likely to about 1600 degrees and tempered it to 390ºF, which is the highest hardness value that it would tolerate without chipping. Tempering to 360ºF did not yield the same performance (the iron gave up its initial edge). Hock's iron is slightly harder than mine, but it suffered a couple of defects during the long grain test against mine. Visually, it appears to have worn more slowly, but the longevity in the end was similar.

Neither was close in hardness to a vintage iron other than some of the harder stanley irons. It would not be hard to duplicate my O1 iron by buying the same stock, heating to the same point, tempering to the same temperature, but I consider finding this tempering point, and proper hardening to be a (low brow, albeit) achievement in getting exactly what I want out of an iron. Low tendency for wire edge retention, excellent edge taking off of natural stones, good hardness and lack of defects in use.

Someone viewing my report once it's posted can conclude that they'll probably see the same performance out of a hock iron, but it's unlikely they'll see the same longevity out of an iron taken out of an older wooden plane or one of the softer stanley irons (i think some of the harder stanley irons would come close, though - especially the solid steel irons, as they're probably oil hardening steel).

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