Hand Tools Archive

Carbon steel (plus AEB-L) test

David Weaver
Point of the test:
* find a steel with uniform edge wear and decent toughness, and one where the regular sharpening cycle stays ahead of nicking (xhp is a great smoothing iron, but I have enough of the nicks quickly outgrowing the abrasive wear and normal honing very quickly - planing glue joints, etc, I dread planing anything less than perfect and then finish planing after that).
* find a steel that has a crisp edge and decent toughness at relatively high hardness
* O1 generally meets these and I can make a very good O1 iron, but just checking that something like 52100 may not be slightly better (especially after seeing in CATRA testing for knives, it outperformed O1 - I think in that knife test, there was something wrong with the O1 test blade)
* I have 1084 and 1095 from a long ago order, so I figured I"d give them a try and see if they tolerate ramped up hardness to make up for their lack of wear resistant alloys
* and finally, the knife community on the super steel hound side considers AEB-L to be a steel that sharpens very easily (stainless) but isn't worth having because it doesn't hold an edge long enough. That's right down my alley (alloy?), especially given micrographs of its carbide structure. It has super tiny round carbides, and it does, in fact, sharpen very easily. It doesn't have much headroom when hardened in a garage (vs. a computer controlled oven) so it's a challenge to hit high hardness (one I haven't figured out), thus my samples are a touch softer than I'd like and it's the easiest of the three here to sharpen. It turns out that it's also the longest wearing.

* make one iron of each type, and temper back only until lines on a piece of test beech don't appear. This is also how I choose hardness for chisels (and why I like files so much - they have the ability to retain super high hardness and still have enough toughness)
* freehand sharpen all of the irons at once finishing with autosol
* plane maple - taking one interim picture and one finish picture.

No weighing shavings or anything this time, just a quick test, but I kept a reference shaving to crinkle in my hand and compare the strength of the shaving to the one coming out of the plane

Two points of interrupted cut three times in a row or one longer than a third of the board and the test is over.

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