Hand Tools

70s stanley irons...

david weaver
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I managed to land a stanley plane made in the 1970s. It had an iron that I could tolerate if I had to, but one that would've been below the 58 guesstimate of lower limit tolerability to me. It is still the only stanley iron that I've ever gotten that would make me believe there is some credibility to claims from Hock, and I know David Charlesworth often talks about a 70s iron that he has.

But those irons are a poor indicator of standard bench plane irons, because they're the worst there was, and I get the sense that a lot of the praise of hock's irons comes from two things:
1) poorly set up or maintained irons in older planes
2) comparing a rounded top stanley iron to a new hock iron and determining the former to be representative of stanley irons

Moxon's point about colors agrees with what George used to say, he likes to temper irons to a darker straw so that they have no chippiness tendencies.

Ron Hock had made the comment in a blog or reply at one point that if you see tempering colors on an iron when grinding, it's already ruined. You know enough about something like that, just as i do, to realize that you (I know you don't use a power grinder) would just take a tool and use it if you saw something like that.

My own O1 irons, which are just made from good stock, hold up better than the hocks. I generally temper them to light straw, but they would be fine a little bit darker. I could just be lucky so far, but I think the issue isn't me (I'm not a magic maker with the midas touch) - I think it's the stock that I'm using, and I think light straw is the point where an iron will hold up longest without failing funny.

I came to all of those things by use, though - you're probably more aware of it than anyone because I used to argue with you about all kinds of stuff while I was satisfying my curiosity. And now I'm back to the "boring" viewpoint of:
1) there's not much magic out there to be found beyond what professional incremental improvement provided
2) if you want the holy grail of really hard steel in chisels and plane irons that will really hold up, skip all of the alloying and just get japanese tools
3) the context of use and the user will tell the quality of the tool. The result in this case is that regardless of data, people with lots of experience tend to settle into one of the things that resulted from incremental improvement. Be it western or Japanese, the established lanes are the most reliable.

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