Hand Tools Archive

Normal Day to Day Testing
Response To:
Test results ()

david weaver
I understand that LV tested irons with MDF (at least that's what I recall hearing).

Years ago, I received an IBC iron and tested it after several honings against an also new LN iron. I was comped the IBC iron, probably because the retailers selling them hoped that getting a bunch out there would equate to free advertising.

On the package was a statement attributed to Cosman (though I think anonymously) that said that the "ibc iron lasted many times longer than brand x" or something along those lines (maybe someone with an old package would find it). I thought this was sort of a strange comment because it's A2. Unless it's defective (and my shepherd iron was defective), there's relatively little practical difference.

I stroke tested the two irons. I don't have the document, but found the LN iron to last longer because it chipped less. On a piece of maple about 20 inches long, I ended the session of 2 thousandth shavings (advancing the iron as I was working if the shavings did not continue to measure 2 thousandths) with 770 or something with the IBC and around 1100 with the LN, Perhaps it was 1050. I remember that it was 4 digits. Would the result have been different after an eighth of each iron was used? Possibly, I don't know.

At any rate, that is what I would consider to be a practical test. There's no cocobolo with visible silica particles in it that look like tiny diamonds, no MDF and no planing across the end grain of something janka 2700. 99% of the stuff I plane is somewhere between softer cherry (low quality) and hard maple.

It took quite a long time to plane the 1800 or so strokes that i planed with an LN smoother and those two irons, and it was careful work to try to perform all of the strokes identically.

Before we conclude that V11 lasts to the moon, I would like to see a test like that. In "normal" wood that most people plane. Not across endgrain, not MDF. I think the V11 irons are very good irons, but in planing plane billets, I didn't see what I was expecting to see and couldn't get through a full try plane billet, which I can always do with a try plane that has a butcher iron in it, or the second one that I made that has a mediocre greaves or hearnshaw bros iron in it. The difference in that case is the plane - less friction and a bigger shaving out of the try plane. Perhaps full throttle planing of the beech makes something like a 7 thousandth shaving (I can do a hundredth in cherry full width unless the cherry is exceptionally good and dense). I couldn't do as much with the V11, but still expected it to outlast the try plane, and it did not. A2 would not have, either.

I haven't had V11 and tsunesaburo irons at the same time, but recall how far the tsune iron would go in the dullness cycle (maybe v11 would, too) without giving up cut quality and without having to lean hard on the plane (sometimes that's useful, maybe you have a board foot or three left to smooth and just want to finish the job).

Beach's work is the closest thing I've seen to showing something that lines up with my experience. Most of the other accelerated tests are biased toward wear resistant steels because they're using something more abrasive or abusive than normal work.

(the other thing I noticed is that several times I read that the ECE primus planes had an iron that was really hard wearing. And that they solved "all of the problems with stanley planes". I found them to be pretty unimpressive, both the plane and the iron. The style of the plane is nice, but it's available in vintage planes for very little money, without the adjuster, and without the very mediocre irons that don't wear that long and leave lines all over the work. I see that Brent's page came to the same conclusion, and I'm glad to see it. I also had a terrible shepherd iron, but it was usable - it was thick and A2, slow grinding and didn't hold an edge very well. I'm not sure that brent's version is).

Not accusing LV of anything untoward. I think they had to choose a testing procedure that could reasonably be completed, and they did, and they came out with a nice steel at a reasonable price. A bit better than the best A2 iron that I've used, though in plane irons, if I didn't have 10 panels to flatten with two irons and do five with one and five with another, I'm not sure I'd notice. It (the difference) appears to be more stark with chisels.

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