Hand Tools Archive

Response To:
Experimenting with XHP ()

Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
I once worked for someone where I wrote lots of reports. It was insisted that each report begin with "The objective of this work/experiment/ whatever was .....". I chaffed at the tight boundary within which to write. But, I came to understand the requirement. Don't leave it up to the audience to decide what the objective is. They can make your work look like a failure when it isn't.

In the case at hand I am going to speculate that the objective was to see if David could make a functional blade from a steel highly regarded in the custom knife community. I think he has proven that he met the objective. No further claims have been made but we are all free to speculate. And as David has said, if you want to confirm your speculation do the work. It's not a requirement that David test other's speculation (though there is evidence he can be goaded into it ;) )

We all, including David, realize that variables in the wood will affect length of edge life. K&K showed that variation in grain angle+/- 10 degrees had a large effect, for example. Flat vs quartered likely has an effect. Early wood/late wood and species likely has a significant effect through density. Sapwood vs heartwood may have an effect (David and I are arguing about this factor). Hence, one blade can be quantitatively compared to another only by a careful test of the blades on the same stick of wood in an alternating shaving removal experiment. This procedure was done when David compared the various steels. In that experiment I think we have a reliable comparison of these steels.

The rest provided qualitative or semiquantitative trends of sharpening and steel properties that affect edge life. If one thinks a result could be useful use it and come to a conclusion. Some of what David has reported is so easy to implement that I will do it because the "cost" is small compared to the possible benefit.

Personally, David's work has and will change how I work. I plane in such short sessions, mostly fitting, that I never begin to get tired planing, nor do I feel dullness creeping up on me. I do get annoyed needing to sharpen unexpectedly, either because dullness crept up on me or the demands on the planing task changed. Halving these surprises will be a significant reduction in annoyance.

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