Hand Tools Archive

Re: penetration
Response To:
penetration ()

David Weaver
two things:
1) I can feel a difference in behavior between V11 and the others, no matter how many times I do the test. It slips through wood more easily. I can notice much less friction when planing with V11. I'm not sure why there would be less friction with the wood sliding across the metal planing, but somehow not less when wedging through wood. I have no idea why anyone would study this on a stainless steel made for knives, kitchen equipment and scissors when it's not a high speed steel, and is relatively new.

It can be felt both on planes and chisels, though.

2) The chisel strikes are important and are explained in the test summary. If I mention there is a decrease in effort needed chiseling due to this method, it's important. Perhaps not to all, but it heads off the accusation I'd immediately suppose if I weren't the one doing the test ("OK, you've made the edge more blunt, and it holds up well, so will any blunt edge. It'll just take more work to use"). It doesn't, and that's important. The implications are important both for malleting and paring. if you aren't sure why they are for paring, set up two mock tenons about 3" long and saw leaving waste above a knife line. Unicorn a chisel, then pare the waste off. Then use a chisel that you would otherwise use with a flat bevel and pare the waste off to the marked line. Note the effort needed and look at the results in combination.

All of these are important, not just edge damage. Edge damage is the biggest issue most people face, because you can hardly worry about the effort question if you can't keep a chisel sharp in the first place.

Here's an instance of why, though - my real life experience. I found years ago that the difference for flat bevel edge holding between a mediocre chisel and a really good one is usually about 2 degrees. So the tests that are out there in droves comparing chisels at 30 degrees are all fine and good, but most of the tests would've been well served by adding 2 degrees to the underperformers and noting that little of the damage incurred continued with two more degrees.

This was one of my ongoing irks with destructive standardized chisel tests. We got blanket accusations with some chisels appearing to hold up perfectly and others lasting a tenth as long in use. Realistically, anyone with nerve endings would've explored accommodating the chisels that were a little less good to see if the accommodations left them usable.

This is just my opinion, but if a chisel fails at 30 and fails a 20th as much at 32, then that's tolerable. For some reason, when you start getting toward 34 or above, using the chisel becomes intolerable if you have another better option at hand. Even for really heavy use like mortising a plane body - instead of shearing chips out, they're broken off, the chisel bounces in the cut a lot more instead of penetrating and the waste flies across the shop, and since I was standing toward this test, the broken off shards of maple actually hit me in the face twice. I'm not sure how they managed to get up to my face, but they sting like gravel off of a string trimmer.

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