Hand Tools

Re: Steels and their places

david weaver
I have two V11 irons. They are good, sort of like Friodur steel but harder, and I don't remember lines, but I haven't seen the longevity advantage that is claimed (from prior, I think it goes back to the fact that I'm not doing a lot of what it would excel at - taking a ton of thin shavings in a row).

can get through more work with a try plane iron in my try plane than i can in a fore plane sized plane with V11. The plane is better suited to the work, and can take a heavier shaving without additional resistance. I know this is the case because I sized billets with both and I got through a billet with sharp to spare with the try plane, but not with the fore plane and V11 - that's also not counting how much easier it is to work a wooden try plane for 20 minutes vs. a metal fore plane). I don't have one in a smoother, but smoothing is a short part of the work if the try plane work is done right.

I generally resharpen an iron when the I have to influence a plane to stay in a cut, and I just don't have to do that very often. The reason I do that then and not when an iron is completely dull and not before is that's what results in minimal physical effort for me.

I'll get some scope pictures of one of my washita edges, though it won't tell the right story, I'm sure. But the story is that they're probably sharper than you think, but a step off of shapton 1 micron-ish edges. The feel of the edge is more even and less transient through the sharpening cycle and the total time spent in the wood before clearance is gone is about the same.

The difference between me and me 5 years ago is how much wood I remove with each stroke, and the percent of strokes that don't result in continuous wood removal from start to finish (far fewer). That's due partially to experience and quite a lot due to learning to use the cap iron.

If someone magically made a V11 iron that was tapered along its length and width, and had a nice hollow cut out of the back (like vintage wooden plane irons do), would I get more work done? I don't know. I'd probably have to take a break and stand around for a minute or two to catch my breath when I'd normally be sharpening. But I'd sure miss the feel of carbon steel on the washita - nothing modern comes close. The ease of thinning the wire edge and then removing it is something that doesn't occur on anything A2 or more alloyed.

(I had another wondersteel plane that I used to get longer edges out of vs. my regular use, noticeably, and that's the mujingfang M2. It probably lasts about as long as V11. For some reason, the gap has narrowed between that and my carbon steel stuff, too. Working style, I guess).

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