Hand Tools

Re: Confirmation of our Iron Testing

David Weaver
Hi, Wiley -

1) Of the steels tested, if I could plane only in clean wood, XHP/V11 would probably be my top choice unless I find out that AEB-L can attain it's halfway or a little better than the gap between V11 and O1 with better sharpenability (in this case, the aeb-l irons that I have sharpen easily on an india and hard arkansas).

I liked V11 better than 3V for planing - it felt sharper off of the same media and planed with less resistance. CPM M4 may be slightly tougher (don't know), but there was more cut resistance than 3V at same sharpness and much more than V11.

If the work expands to rough to finish planing, I'd rather have something like a ward iron in a try plane and something fast to sharpen in a smoother. I can explain the former part better - the older irons are less likely to chip in heavy work, and then easier to stay ahead of any damage that does occur (But less seems to occur and then they also sharpen far easier than V11). For smoothing, V11 would be OK, but smoothing is done so quickly after the rest of dimensioning, it seems like more favorable to have something that refreshes fast and easy.

2) V11 made the brightest surface with each abrasive. Brighter than everything with 1 micron diamonds and stayed bright longer. But everything left an acceptable surface (the Blue 1 surface looked dull sooner, almost right away it got some dullness and the microscope picture showed what looks like carbides leaving the matrix, which larrin thomas also found. They were too small to affect visual uniformity, but when compared to the brightness of the other irons (which was easy to do since they were in a rotation), it was lacking.

With oilstones, V11 stays brighter than everything else again and will finish to a bright surface finish on a simple washita. It does work OK on an india stone and washita, but it's a little slower honing and if the iron gets nicked, that idea is done better with two diamond hone steps (ezelap 600 then 1200, which get very broken in and cut finer and slower than their ratings by at least a factor of two), and then a washita. But V11 does like the washita (A2 hates it), and has excellent longevity off of it. The wire edge can be teased off with light strokes leading into the edge rather than pulling, alternating sides (age old method and what a lot of japanese materials recommend since they don't like to strop).

Cut resistance again with that brightness, less for V11 than anything else. I would like to see someone explain this and am suspecting chromium. The annealed steel is very slick and kind of a pain to file due to the same slickness - the file skids a little bit more on it and files about half as fast as O1.

But, as to the question specifically, I expected O1 and the japanese iron to have the brightest surface and they didn't - V11 did.

3) I don't know. With oilstones, I guess you could go washita for V11 and diamonds for the others to try to make surface brightness even, but I also think surface uniformity with acceptable brightness is far more important. A surface with V11 off of washita is still reflective. O1 is close and once wax is involved, it's indistinguishable no matter what.

re: the CATRA tester and total cards cut results - the machine applies a specific force and moves a stack of cards back and forth across a blade for a set number of cuts. The less a blade wears, the thinner the edge stays and the farther it cuts. So if a blade gets really really dull, the machine still finishes the process but feet cut may stop or nearly stop. Larrin said that the blades are extremely dull after it does its thing. It's different than our test ...sort of, but maybe not really. our test stopped when clearance was gone, so we were measuring metal removal, but I wanted to see if all of the steels wore the same shape, and I think they probably did. This seems dopey now, but it's easy to say something was dumb to ponder once you know the results.

The tests are a little different because I planed more feet for the same metal volume removed, while the catra test doesn't guarantee an identical edge condition, but rather just measures amounts cut for a given computer controlled effort.

it's nice to see that they both kind of end up with the same ratios, anyway, and just as nice to see that the ratios that we came up with independently hold up against a controlled source. I'm a crabby source of testing information, but not a controlled source.

I struggle a little to describe why it is I haven't been using V11 or XHP, but an instance where I was jointing edges of rough boards to put panels together, I just got the point where I was constantly honing nicks out and not getting the same ratio of edge life, but the honing and grinding was still have as fast as O1, and I had it with that. If a machine does that work for someone and the plane is just left finish planing, then the test results are probably very good.

I think the buffer itself may make a level of surface brightness even better than 1 micron diamonds and V11 but didn't do any direct comparisons - the flurries of testing were too far apart. there's a felt loss of clearance with the buffer so maybe it's "artificial" brightness from steamrolling the surface a little with reduced clearance.

And maybe not - the surface is better off of a block plane, and the shavings off of the top side of the bevel from the block plane use - the have a different wavy super bright quality that a flat bevel and apex doesn't.

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