Hand Tools Archive

Two times...

david weaver
While it is the case that nothing about these irons will really change someones' productivity over any other iron, especially when you compare things that do really contribute to productivity (good technique using a plane, not doing work that doesn't need to be done, learning to sharpen well and quickly), it is definitely the case that they do both of the following:

* work at the same level of sharpness, or higher, with less planing resistance even than carbon steel
* whatever carbon steel does for sharpness or surface brightness, these will do it twice as long, but also with better brightness for the same period of use

The grinding is more difficult with them. That's the only downside that I can see, but for those of us who power grind, it's not really an issue. They also have low sensitivity to being ground over temperature vs. carbon steels or anything else that's not high speed steel (if they get 400 degrees over-temper in grinding, which should never happen in the first place, they will still be as hard as a typical carbon steel iron).

Testing to failure in a certain mode isn't intended to suggest to someone else that they should plane to failure, it just takes out the subjectivity of certain things (for example, brent beach would plane until he got a certain wear bevel, measure the length and make a few comments. But it didn't really tell someone reading whether or not the irons were on even footing at the stopping points).

Planing end grain to see where the irons would fail was miserable. Even through that, the sharpness and planing resistance from XHP/V11 was lower. It is the first demonstrably better smoothing plane steel that I've seen (when compared to water hardening and oil hardening older steels).

As far as chisels go, I'm not looking for anything in the world of chisels, so I'm not going to be exposed to V11 and XHP is available to me in .094" or .094". Like the Model T in black. If anything betters japanese white steel chisels in hammering, I'd be surprised, but chisels are so fast to sharpen that it doesn't really matter.

I wasn't expecting to replace any of my irons, either, but the reduction in physical effort is something I couldn't really ignore after doing the testing. Cost to replace irons in planes isn't negligible, though, and i probably wouldn't have done it if I wasn't making my own irons (which is more for self indulgence and satisfaction of curiosity in making tools). I'd figure my cost without time after accounting for files and gas is probably $35-$40 an iron - less than I typically pay for a ward parallel iron but more than anything else. Point being, i don't think anyone is going to come along and make them for less than LV does when you can get free shipping on them.

The fact that they do everything so far (barring a comment I made last week about needing to confirm that the uniformity of the edge competes with carbon steel except for the fact that the surface brightness increase from XHP makes it harder to hide pretty much anything) as well or better than carbon steel and for twice as long, if it's a user's principle to plane to a certain level of dullness that is not many feet vs. a full loss of clearance, it's still twice as long. My cycle time with them now is the same as carbon steel, too. Stropping isn't necessary with alternating back and forth strokes on the finishing stone. Initial concern about the toughness of the wire edge is mitigated with experience in finding an easy way that it comes off uniformly.

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