Hand Tools

Does anyone have any ability to verify numbers?

david weaver
I had access through a friend to a versitron, but he's retired and his access to hardness testing went with that.

I know that data like the data provided here gets posted, argued/discussed, never really verified independently and then disappears.

The few things that exist in this that I can corroborate are:
1) I can match experience in feel with a lot of the tools shown here (but that's perception)
2) this is the third hardness test that I've seen of lie nielsen's products. One that LN struck, one that a friend had struck, and now this one. They always come out about the same - within 1 c scale point. That and my experience with their exceptionally consistent irons makes me feel like it's pretty comfortable to assume that.

Is the blue spruce butt chisel really 65? I don't know. Is perhaps just that one 65? I don't know. What about the narex low at 55 for the mortise chisel - narex has a very tight spec. I had some parers when they first came out that were not really impressive. They were OK, but they - unfortunately - sent me quickly looking for "real" parers, which are really made any longer. Thankfully, the timing coincided with ebay opening up shipping from the UK, which brought a typical english parer down to about the cost of a narex parer.

I'm not surprised to see very tight ranges with japanese chisels. Nothing really ever beats them.


Remember this? I was reading woodnet at the time, and there was ranting and raving about a new 3V chisel that would never need to be sharpened again. I had the koyamaichi chisels that LV sold at the time and did a controlled test with one of them cutting leaves off of a maple stick, and with a couple of other chisels. It seemed to me that if you wanted to be gentle, you could pretty much make those chisels last many projects before any real sharpening. Or you could be more stiff handed and do little sharpening (my preference - cut a case of half blinds, touch up the chisel with a finish stone only without babying it and be no worse off at the end of the project).

I've gotten two email objections to the LV V11 number showing around 60 ("no way, that's an error" in nature - none from LV, of course). LV spec is 61-63. What's likely? I don't know. If someone else struck a result with a chisel in the wild, it might dispell that. I didn't sense 60 from the LV V11 tools that I had, but I also don't think they were 63. 60 would've sharpened easier - even though I'm guessing at what the steel is, it is undeniably close in feel on an oilstone or natural stone to friodur wares from decades ago. I don't know that henckels ever stated what their steel was, either, but I think it's cryogenically treated 440C. V11 is powder steel, 440C in henckels stuff is not. Henckels is a bit softer than carbon steel in their razors, but probably not be low 58/59 - the edge it takes off of a stone is very uniform given the era and the type of steel it is. Nothing else has ever felt similar to those two.

I don't think Sorby is O1 steel, we tend to lump all of the modern chisels into O1 or A2. I think it's not either, but I have no proof. I think Pfeil is not O1. I think Ashley iles *is* O1 (they say so themselves, but japan woodworker used to tell us that mujingfang tools are A2 - they are definitely not).

I'd love to see all kinds of things out of curiosity, but figured that posting this might be interesting to some folks and spark disagreement (public or otherwise - email only for me so far).

I can say this. Rob streeper is a tinkerer and toolmaker. He has honest intentions with everything that I've dealt with him on, though he's skeptical about some things, which can lead him into the groove of "i'm going to see if everyone is telling us the truth". He found a couple of soft saws from makers a few years ago and went on a serious bender that could've been more muted, but not ill intentioned. Point being, if any of these chisels were out of spec, as in if the narex mortise was really 55 - most of us would notice and say "I need to try another one". I think Rob, not being a life long hand tool woodworker will just play it as it lies.

I don't put that much stock in hardness quotes until I use a tool. It's a catalog spec to chase, but not always achieved. The Iyoroi mortise chisel that we tested that averaged 61 (that was done on a versitron, a LN chisel tested about the same with three strikes) was softer than stated, but it was a perfectly serviceable chisel. It's still the proof is in the using. I believe vintage buck chisels are almost the same hardness as sorby, but they're a little nicer to use, so the Rc number isn't the ultimate determinant. It's just a piece of data to compare to actual use.

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