Hand Tools Archive

Observation - Back Wear

David Weaver
I've looked at back wear under the microscope on the BU iron in cherry, cocobolo and khaya now. The microscope shows no appreciable back wear that isn't removed as part of normal honing (without spending gobs of time on the back of the iron or resorting to coarse abrasives or anything - just dursol or something similar does the job fine).

The act of fully refreshing the bevel side on the BU plane pretty much gets rid of any progressive back wear and I haven't seen anything in any of the three woods mentioned above that extends more than a couple of thousandths into the back of the iron (and that's before rehoning).

Thinking back to my own BU plane where I observed cosmetic scratches that only bothered me (cosmetic bother, not bother in use) after seeing that they existed, I don't know what they were - they could've been stray marks left from dirt on wood.

Having the chance to see the edge close up so that you see what counts and not just cosmetic things, I think what Larry concluded is incorrect (that back wear would be a progressive problem) and that people bringing him planes out of clearance probably weren't doing much sharpening, or were adding a back bevel trying to chase wear off of the edge either with a thick ruler, or by lifting an iron on purpose or not while honing.

There are no clearance issues with the plane as a matter of use and after several shaprenings, nothing progressive is appearing.

The danger of declaring shortcomings in planes that you're not familiar with (as the clearance war aggressors did - all commenting about planes brought to them that they'd never used much, so they had no clue what was causing the problems -and then some of the clearance war soldiers were just repeating incorrect information rather than first hand information) is that you risk telling people that user-created problems (which you remember more clearly than planes that work just fine, so you get a skewed view) are plane design problems.

If a ham handed user lifted a plane blade a couple of strokes on a sharpening stone or bumbled one around into the same effect, then it would be pretty easy to make this type of plane run out of clearance - but lifting too high on the bevel side of a common pitch plane would cause the same. Lifting too high on a 55 degree single iron plane would just drastically shorten the interval until the next sharpening.

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