Hand Tools Archive

vestigal vs. needing help
Response To:
mmmmmm ... ()

David Weaver
The LN cap irons work, but the way they're cut blunt on the front is intentional. I believe that it's probably for manufacturing efficiency to avoid having to finish the edge on a soft bevel (which can be a pain).

The english friend of mine who uses mostly power tools got instruction from them (this is maybe 14 years ago now) that the step was to be honed off by the user (a 90 degree blunt step is just about pointless for a cap iron - it goes from bulldozer to no tearout control in a very short span). My friend diligently honed the angle that was already on the chipbreaker and the first time he used it, something ran into the cap and bent the leading edge, rendering it useless for him.

He sent the cap iron back and LN said "you were supposed to make it steeper". Both my friend and LN were learning on the fly. They sent him a new cap iron, he honed the new one steeper and that's the last I heard of it, but being an engineer, he was a bit unhappy about the lack of specific instructions with the plane, and at the time (Before LN made youtube videos) that if he wanted LN's recommended sharpening instructions, he had to spend 20 bucks for the charlesworth video ("i don't understand why they can't include a 5 minute version with a $350 plane").

He still grinds his bevels with a king 800, which results in refusing to use the plane unless it's absolutely necessary.

At any rate, LN intended users to modify the cap that they receive - it's not functional as received, and as evidenced by many of their 2 3/8" planes, they never intended on most planes for the cap iron to extend to the edge in the first place. I guess one of those is intentional dysfunction without user setup, and the other was vestigal.

I personally helped them learn that their #8 cap irons didn't fit stanley planes. When I sent CS a message that one of their caps didn't work with a stanley that I'd purchased (the cap iron was worn through on that particular plane - it must've been fixtured in something or used for some abrasive abusive non-wood purpose), they were unaware of it and requested that I send my worn through cap iron back to them with theirs. They lost track of it and it took months to find it, but it was an oversight (it ended up on TLN's desk and got lost in the shuffle) - they've always been helpful otherwise.

They know their target market better than I do. These things must not matter much. My English friend has at least 6 of their planes. I don't think he uses more than one every two years, and maybe not that often any longer, but he likes his wife to give them to him as gifts).

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