10V Iron Arrived - it's Weird


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Established Member
24 Aug 2015
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Of the two "magicsteel" irons that I ordered, the 10V iron showed up already.

Not sure if the other one has even been shipped, but the guy making the 10V irons in chicago has a good setup - instant information when you order it, continuous information through delivery only 1 1/2 days later.

I think this is something we tolerate from boutique toolmakers in general, that their information about delivery or stock aren't that great. The lake erie iron (ordered the day before) is now confirmed in the mail, and figure it'll get here in 4 or 5 days from order (it's coming from 1 1/2 hours away, but sometimes that's the same as being dropped off at a hub area across the country).

At any rate, the 10V iron is 16% vanadium carbide by volume, which must involve carbon, as it's <10% vanadium composition. However, 10% is a LOT of vanadium.

the seller said it's targeted at 60, i believe that's correct. Here's the "fact pattern" so far:
* the iron is very flat. It took about 1 minute to get the india stone to remove the grinding marks
* it can be honed on an india stone, but "not the right way, I suspect" - well, that's actually a factual statement. The india stone can abrade the matrix and maybe crush and break some of the vanadium carbides, but it cannot cut through them
* I have not yet honed it with "real diamonds", which will cut through vanadium like nothing
* I reground the bevel shallower, which i always do. This wasn't a problem on a ceramic belt, but it definitely even at lower than top end hardness didn't spark much and resisted the belt. Like abrades half as fast as more typical steels for us .If it was pushing higher hardness targets, it would be very slow grinding.
* the india stone does not leave cut marks in the surface of the iron at all - meaning grooves or lines. It just looks like sandy bits
* the feel of the iron at the outset matches the look of the steel - it's not fully sharp

the real test, given what I mentioned previously - there's no reason to sharpen anything with vanadium carbides with any media other than diamonds - will be how sharp it feels once it's "grooved" with small diamonds and then whether or not it wears to the "sandy" state around the carbides, or wears evenly

So far, for $45 shipped with a very expensive type of stock, the maker did an excellent job. I still don't have the feel that there's anything practical for the average woodworker compared to something like properly hard O1 or 80crv2.
here's the difference between a "normal" sharpening stone regime:

Note the gritty look. This is at 150x optical, or about 0.019" from bottom to top of the photo. The grittiness is carbides.

And then using a cheap chinese 1000 grit diamond hone and 1/2 micron sized diamond powder on cast iron. Elapsed time to do this regimen, both to remove the gritty look with the 1k diamond hone on the back and then get bevel and back in order on a flat ground cast plate, and polish the bevel is about 2 minutes.

It's not so much the honing part of this process that will be slow, but the grinder will be slower.

Anyone who advises you to sharpen steel with an appreciable amount of vanadium with anything other than inexpensive diamonds is giving you bad advice.

Anyone advising you to buy an expensive diamond hone to do this is giving you bad advice.

This edge is significantly finer than an 8k grit waterstone, it's at least as fast to get to, and it's cheaper.

It does take some accuracy sharpening - "directing pressure" where it should go and not distorting anything so that it isn't easy to grind and hone the next time or 20 times from now.

The cast surface must be very accurately ground, you can't just take a plane sole and abrade it and call it good - the ridges left from abrading or filing will beat up a honed edge badly and raise a burr.

polished mild steel and anything else that you could find salvage that's flat but smooth, all OK for diamonds. Cast is the best - someone gave me the cast hone here.

You can also buy a slightly coarser diamond grade and use it on hardwood without issue, but cast is extremely sparing with the fine diamonds - $8 worth is decades for the average woodworker in dry diamond powder.

The $20 milled steel chinese diamond hones should be suitable to create a secondary bevel for a very long time, too.
There is a drastic difference in sharpness between picture 1 and 2 even though it's not like the edge is that bad.

I'm not sure it feels as sharp as carbon steel, but I will use it a while and maybe in the distant future, pit it against V11 in a footaged planed test. I did my shift on that before, planing about 40,000 feet with several irons. It was relaxing, but I don't have spare time for that kind of meditation right now. Picture of the thin shaving from picture #2 edge below. It creates a mirror edge like anything else.

The question is deeper than that, though - how will it actually perform in work, and how does it pick up a shaving as it dulls - the answer needs to be good and well in both of those, and we'll see how routine grinding is without a belt grinder, and later feel in comparison to carbon steel and XHP (V11).

I'd guess that the very high vanadium is a HIPped tool-steel - Crucible of Pittsburgh made 5, 10 and 15 V and a couple of European operations made similar where the no is % Vanadium. Why HIP (hot isostatically press ie very high gas pressure compaction and below melting point diffusion bonding of very fine <200 micron (size to choice) particles to solid in one operation at about 1100C and 100MPa or 15,000psi) - well if you try to make these by a usual cast then forge route, steel will tend to segregate out different carbides/alloys with mostly v large grains, pools of matrix etc. HIP allows the fine particle size used to avoid this inhomogeneity. The powder is contained within a big evacuated, sealed steel can (up to 10 tonnes) which gives a billet which can be forged and/or sliced to size. High cobalt grades are also available.
I'm not sure what the initial particle sizes are for these steels. I've seen figures like 1 or 3 or something like that for some - maybe that would be vanadis or maxamet or some of the later steels that are even more expensive, not sure.

The write up on the V series described 15V has having follow up issues with cracking no matter what, but then mentioned that those were somewhat solved - cracking probably due to coarse carbides.

Anything above 10 in the initial runs shows problems with large carbides, but 10V has good uniformity in micrographs. Anything with random coarse carbides is no big deal for something like kitchen knives, or for large dies, but it's a no go for woodworking. I had a 154cm knife at one point in the past and it was practically impossible to finish an edge neatly and you could feel bits grabbing the stones. CPM 154 (the particle version) is very neat and orderly, looking a lot like V11 as it's close to the same. No vanadium and maybe less carbon.

The Vanadium carbides are interesting to me, though, as I don't think they really are that great for woodworking, but 10V appears to be used in dies all over the place, and they're probably great for that. You'd think you'd just fine the odd tool here and there and a bunch of knives, but there are tons of pre-made injection moulder parts.
I may not have even addressed the point here. I'm not so strong on how these steels are made other than seeing that particle sizes can be really tiny, and seeing micrographs of them (if this one looked like 15V's micrograph, then I wouldn't have bought it).

...or production of the steel vs. production with the steel.

Tony Z's the guy for that.
Let's see if I can summarize this correctly for a beginner in planing like me: Stick with your common stock Stanley/Record/Eskiltuna Steel/E A Berg/etc iron and learn to sharpen if you want to do wood work with your plane. And if you need a replacement, get a carbon steel iron.

I really appreciate that you take your time (and money) to investigate stuff like this. It shows that there is very little to gain by chasing exotic (and expensive!) steel for a guy like me.
What you're saying is pretty much it - good tools that sharpen fairly easily. Iron's that don't have a bunch of abrasion resistance are just that - they have no potential to match something abrasion resistant in a test that really is biased toward only that. But woodworking is part abrasion and a whole bunch of other stuff to go along with it, and obsession with abrasion resistance is something I haven't seen in anyone other than beginners.

And I think the only way to really get away from beginning planing is to do a fair bit of it and find out that planing more than fitting joints and smoothing after a planer isn't really that bad.

Otherwise, it's hard to get away from the idea that what makes a good plane iron is what fits in a jig easily, comes really flat (as if flattening will ever be an appreciable percentage of the time spent on a heavily used iron), and takes the most really thin shavings on clean wood.

I have to give the seller credit here, though - he delivered a nicely finished iron in a steel that's not inexpensive for a low price, and fast, and it was flat. I think if you were going to woodworking in america or some other show like that which has little to do with woodworking and more to do with selling, you could tout something like both this and the magnacut iron and really sell it.

Imagining woodworking, or catering to that, is far more profitable than encouraging people to unwind how someone worked with tools before such that they completely ignored the advent of high wear and really high hardness tools. There's far more to learn about woodworking in the latter, but it's an obligation - one you could fail at. Buying a lot of tools and imagining what they could do is very attractive because it involves no risk and you can conclude you're solving problems without having to prove it.

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