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Basic plane - expensive iron?

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pswallace

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Hi all,Recently I bought A stanley No 4 plane at A knock down price,I initially thought it was the handy man type but it turns out it was the No 4 ,anyway after much flattening and fettling I'm getting quite good results ! however I have started to wonder if I could further improve the plane by adding A better quality iron,would this make a noticeable difference? and can anyone advice which iron to go for if it does?. . . . I can't really afford the more high end planes on the market but I don't mind spending A bit of time tuning up A cheaper or second hand model or indeed spending A moderate amount of money on A new iron if it makes A difference ! . . . Any advice welcome. Phil.
 

matthewwh

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Hi Phil,

You are more likely to see an improvement by changing the cap iron for either a Clifton, Quangsheng or Lie-Nielsen. Any of these will stiffen up the blade assembly considerably. You need to polish the top, lap the mating face and install it with only a hairs breadth before the cutting edge and you will find your plane transformed.
 

Vann

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I see Lee VAlley Also mAke 1/8" thick cAp-irons for StAnley & Record plAnes.

'though personAlly I hAve A totAlly irrationAl preference for the Clifton. :wink:

Cheers, VAnn.
 

Jacob

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I agree about the cap iron. I only recently discovered this, being generally sceptical about everything tooly! It makes a bigger difference to planing than replacing a blade, at a much lower cost. It also makes the standard blade much more usable in that it speeds up honing, if you freehand that is. Clunk click and it's out, etc.
Not sure abt the need for any polishing and lapping though. Seems to be a weird tooly obsession. Don't bother. If the new cap iron really needs it, then send it back, it's faulty.
 

matthewwh

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It only takes a few seconds (cap irons are not hardened), you only need to do it once and doing it eliminates the most likely cause of problems when trying to take very very fine shavings.

Sending a cap iron back because it isn't polished is like sending a new car back because the radio isn't switched on.

Or perhaps we could offer pre-polished ones and charge extra for them ??? :D
 

David C

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Planing performance may be improved by a thick chipbreaker but edge life, i.e. time between sharpenings will be improved by a better blade.

Incidentally, the Veritas set which Vann refers to has a completely flat, lapped back/ face. It is very nice.

In my experience all chipbreakers need a little work to the front edge, but as Matthew says this is not arduous.

Best wishes,

David Charlesworth
 

Jacob

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I got two from Classic Hand tools and one from Toolnut. They were all polished already. FOC.

Edge life is less of an issue if honing is easier. Freehand plus Stay Set iron makes it really speedy. In any case "better" blades take longer to hone, so it's all a trade-off anyway.
 

matthewwh

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All the Clifton ones are polished on top.

With them it's just a quick rub on the underside to confirm that the leading edge is the first and only line of contact.
 

jimi43

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Jacob":1kmlazr3 said:
I agree about the cap iron. I only recently discovered this, being generally sceptical about everything tooly! It makes a bigger difference to planing than replacing a blade, at a much lower cost. It also makes the standard blade much more usable in that it speeds up honing, if you freehand that is. Clunk click and it's out, etc.
Not sure abt the need for any polishing and lapping though. Seems to be a weird tooly obsession. Don't bother. If the new cap iron really needs it, then send it back, it's faulty.
Please wake me from this dream....surely I am seeing things Jacob! :mrgreen:

Wonderful to see you agreeing about even a tiny bit of tool fettling!

Now...about that bevel!!! :wink:

Jim
 

Jacob

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I don't think all tooly stuff is nonsense - just most of it!
Rounded bevels fine thanks!
The stayset iron really suits quick honing, rounded bevel style. It's speedy anyway, so that little extra time saved with the stayset is significant. Not so relevant if you have a prolonged ritual with jigs, microbevels etc.
 

Alf

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Some years ago now*, I tentatively made the suggestion on another forum that a better cap iron was the overlooked bargain/easy option to improve your planing experience. Silence fell. Tumbleweed rolled by. Then everyone resumed angsting over replacement irons. I confess I never dared mention it again. :lol:

*Sufficient years ago, I have a feeling the Clifton might have been the only available option to upgrade. Ah, dark days indeed.
 

Digit

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eric joyce for PM!!!!
Great idea! Take some of the seats out of the chamber and install a long, and expensive Mahogany bar, and when Mister Speaker shouts 'Order!' he can collect his subsidised booze! :lol:

Roy.
 

Jacob

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Alf":50bnein9 said:
Some years ago now*, I tentatively made the suggestion on another forum that a better cap iron was the overlooked bargain/easy option to improve your planing experience. Silence fell. Tumbleweed rolled by. Then everyone resumed angsting over replacement irons. I confess I never dared mention it again. :lol:

*Sufficient years ago, I have a feeling the Clifton might have been the only available option to upgrade. Ah, dark days indeed.
Oh well Alf you know what they say: "a prophet hath no honour in his/her own country".
I've also got 2 blades (Smoothcut and Hock) but the difference they make to planing is trivial, barely noticeable in fact, compared to the cap iron difference.
As long as they are sharp there is no difference in use between them and any Stanley/Record blade.
 

David C

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Cap irons will not affect edgeholding ability.

However I suppose the benefits of a better blade become more apparent when working harder, abrasive timbers.

David C
 

Alf

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Jacob":2j8nz129 said:
Oh well Alf you know what they say: "a prophet hath no honour in his/her own country".
The galling thing is I'm not even in my own country - I'm in Cornwall... :lol:

At the risk of applying the Mk1 tin opener to the can of worms, concerning the better edge retention of after market irons - for a while I've wondered if there isn't a very real argument against them for the tyro. My reasoning is two-fold. 1) Sharpening only ever gets better with practice; actively lengthening the intervals between honing could actually be counter-productive. 2) The neophyte may acquire an erroneous perception of how long they should expect to go between honings. One seasoned plane user's "I don't need to sharpen as often" may turn in the reader's mind into "I hone once a month, tops". Whereas if you're not expecting the edge to last, you'll be more encouraged to freshen it up perhaps? Just seems to me that the beginner is seldom applying their new skills to abrasive exotics and so forth, and maybe they'd be better served with a more homely steel.

But I wander a little from the thrust of the thread. I shall gather up my rice bowl, go and sit under a rock on Bodmin Moor and await the arrival of the seekers of wisdom. (Open 10-4, closed for lunch. Wednesdays early closing)
 

David C

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Alf,

My counter view would be, that using a honing guide and Charlesworth methods, students get a wonderful edge on day one or possibly day two....

best wishes,

David
 

Jacob

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David C":21bokf1y said:
Alf,

My counter view would be, that using a honing guide and Charlesworth methods, students get a wonderful edge on day one or possibly day two....

best wishes,

David
Yebbut they still have to learn to do it properly. They might as well start freehand, in spite of the (very slight) difficulty. It never held anybody back in the past.
Most people learn to ride a bike without ever needing stabilisers!
 

Paul Chapman

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The performance of a plane is about more than just the sharpness of the blade. I bought my first three Record planes in the early 1970s. They weren't bad but not particularly good either. About the same time I bought a copy of "Planecraft" and read about the StaySet cap iron. It all made sense to me because I could see that the bent metal type of cap iron bent the thin Record blade. Telephoned Record only to be told that they no longer made them but the bloke I spoke to raved about the StaySet cap iron that was fitted to his plane.

A few years later Clifton started making and selling StaySet cap irons so I bought three and fitted them to my Records. What an improvement :shock: Later I fitted thicker Clifton blades - more improvement :shock: I concluded that it was all about the reduction in chatter and more rigidity.

Later I went the whole hog and bought some Clifton planes with their bedrock frogs. The difference was like chalk and cheese. The machining of the plane components was so good that everything fitted together as it should and the planes worked really well, however difficult the wood.

The conclusion I've reached is that blade sharpness is important but if the rest of the plane is rubbish you'll never get the best from the super-sharp blade.

Cheers :wink:

Paul
 

bugbear

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Jacob":2acva6vo said:
David C":2acva6vo said:
Alf,

My counter view would be, that using a honing guide and Charlesworth methods, students get a wonderful edge on day one or possibly day two....

best wishes,

David
Yebbut they still have to learn to do it properly.
It has become quite apparent to the thoughtful observer that there is no widely accepted definition of sharpening "properly"...

BugBear
 

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