Hand Tools

Re: Over-generalizing?
Response To:
Re: Over-generalizing? ()

david weaver
These aren't carbide voids. The chisels are O1. I don't think we'd be seeing voids as large as the larger ones I have pictures of from O1 steel, and if we did, the steel would be defective.

In terms of edges with silicon dioxide, all of the other chisels were sharpened with washita and japanese stones (which have about 17% natural alumina, but mostly Si O2).

White 2 has about a tenth or two more of carbide than O1, far lower tolerances for impurities, less chromium and is processed better. Even in the cheapest of irons (fuunji comes to mind, JWW no longer sells them, but they make an iron that's in reality about 60 hardness in white 2) made with white 2, which is probably just cut out of rikizai and not processed any other way (the whole plane was $60 at the time I bought one) - even those are sublime compared to anything put in western tools.

In terms of whether or not a tenth or two makes no difference, to say it doesn't is similar to saying that 1080 and 1095 are almost the same. They're definitely not once you get to higher hardnesses. Except at least both of those are plain steels, whereas nobody is making anything with water hardening steel these days in the world of tools.

In terms of generalizing, I probably have enough chisels and experience with various chisels to be able to make these comments, though I no longer have anything with D2 (that's a good thing - it's a white collar tool steel). I would venture to guess that right now, I probably have a dozen various chisel sets, a whole bunch of loose ones, and have had somewhere between a dozen or two dozen others. My comments are from those (iron comments follow) and my experiences with irons more than they are from these pictures - steel quality wasn't what I was looking for when I took the pictures, rather edge quality, but I got sidetracked).

I've got vintage irons from about 1800 to the mid 1900s and still some modern irons. Over the coming weeks, I will take more pictures of these irons and chisels, and perhaps with various sharpening media to see what we can find out. I doubt anyone has more from a larger cross section on hand, or has spent more money and actually used more different tools (different geographical origins and different eras) than I have.

Anyway, while a washita technically won't cut carbides (though iron carbides it will have an even odds battle with), when it's slurried, it will cut just about everything other than HAP 40. The need to refresh the slurry is undesirable.

I'll see what I see on the scope with the various tools, but it's not carbides being pulled out of O1 that's causing those voids. They're just voids in the steel.

I've sharpened just about everything i have on washitas, and haven't seen those voids on anything japanese and not on razors (razors will fail right at the edge on the strop if the steel isn't up to it). Could the O1 be better if it was made better - I'm sure - but the lack of care is evident.

The chisels are otherwise excellent, though. I didn't post the pictures with much bigger voids, because the last thing I need is for people to start posting threads with "ashley iles chisels are junk!" and using my pictures. Most people read the internet and comment very heavily with theory vs. what they've actually tried, and i'm sure the part where I mentioned that the chisels worked fine, anyway - that part wouldn't make it into other peoples' posts.

I'm pretty pleased with the chisels overall, they're reasonably hard, they have lovely proportions (much like an older chisel) and I can't think of a current western chisel that I'd take over them. plus, they have people hand finishing them, and desiring identical tools with a lack of humanity is, again, a white collar magazine woodworker thing.

There has been an elimination of a lot of English tools relatively recently. Footprint red acetate handled chisels that are stamped sheffield are really lovely, aside from the handle itself. That could be changed. They're thin, light and hard with very nice steel (we'll see what the scope says about voids).

But none of these chisels really hold a candle even to the iyoroi chisels that I have. Not even my older wards, which are really good chisels, but in edge holding, they can't hang even with white #2 iyoroi chisels. When you go up the ladder, the chisels have better edge retention than the iyoroi, topping out with the properly done white #1 chisels, but there are also white #1 tools that are temperamental (won't sharpen without chipping on synthetic abrasives, and can hardly be sharpened on any natural, even a strong cutting suita despite a reasonable amount of aluminum oxide).

one other side comment. There are some dumpy english tools. These are my opinion - sorby chisels are too soft and rubbery feeling on the stones. No clue what they are. Their turning tools are usable but also soft (I recall george also mentioning that he rehardened a bunch of these at the museum). Crown's chisels, also uninspiring. But the Iles and footprint chisels are not in the same category. The footprints have gone overseas, so that leaves just the iles. I started years ago with the LN chisels when they first came out. I wouldn't trade the AI chisels with LN for even money, let alone at somewhere between 1/3rd and 1/2 the cost. I haven't used LV's chisels, but I know they like to look at things under the microscope, so I'd be very surprised if they sourced steel with voids like the steel I showed (picture voids about quadruple that size in some of the other pictures).

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