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HCS or A2 Plane Blades??

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Mike B

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Hi

Anyone have any thoughts on which is the best type of plane blade - HCS or A2 or ... ??

And just as I thought the confusion lay in which plane to buy, now it appears I have to contend with a variety of blade materials as well...

cheers
Mike
 

Midnight

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Mike.. side by side on equal terms A2's gonna win hands down but only in terms of longevity between sharpenings; they'll both take an edge equally well...

However, it isn't always so straight forward...

A more thorough answer would be the best steel is whichever is best suited to both the plane and the task at hand; it isn't every plane that has an A2 blade available for it as my halves, rounds, moulders and ploughs ably demonstrate...
 

Alf

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Don't look at me; given the choice I'd have all carbon steel. My understanding has always been that A2 lasts longer between sharpenings, but takes longer to sharpen. While HCS doesn't last as long but is quicker to put an edge on. Personally I like to sharpen pretty frequently 'cos I like to make my life easier by not pushing around a blunt edge, so the advantage of A2 is rather lost on me. Take a look at what Brent Beach has to say after extensive testing.

Cheers, Alf
 

ydb1md

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When I first got my veritas apron plane, I got the hcs blade. When trimming dowels using the standard hcs blade, i found that the blade crumpled easily when used as i was doing. Later, I picked up the A2 blade for the apron plane and it seemed to be tougher.

just my two cents (or pence) :)
 

Rob Lee

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ydb1md":1e3jj1cv said:
When I first got my veritas apron plane, I got the hcs blade. When trimming dowels using the standard hcs blade, i found that the blade crumpled easily when used as i was doing. Later, I picked up the A2 blade for the apron plane and it seemed to be tougher.

just my two cents (or pence) :)
Hi -

That's one of the planes I prefer the HCS blade on...

One of the things to watch out for on any new blade (chisels too) is that performance "out-the-box" may not be representative of long-term performance. The reason for this is that the very tip of a bevel may have had the temper drawn during manufacture - or the heat treatment may be a bit different due to the thin section (if the bevel is put on before heat treatment)...

Ideally - all manufacturers of blades would carefully (and slowly) establish tip geometry on all edge tools after heat treatment... but it just isn't so.

Watch too that the production bevel angle is correct for your application!

Cheers -

Rob
 

Philly

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Good point, Rob. I've noticed that a lot of my tools needed a few sharpenings before the true strength of the steel revealed itself.
Bit of a pain, but a fact of life :roll:
Cheers
Philly :D
 

Frank D.

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Alf":15z8orap said:
Personally I like to sharpen pretty frequently 'cos I like to make my life easier by not pushing around a blunt edge, so the advantage of A2 is rather lost on me.
Alf, I think the advantage of A2 is that you can plane longer WITHOUT pushing around a blunt edge. I prefer sharpening less often because I sharpen in the kitchen, so it's more of a hassle to stop working and wash the dishes to empty the sink. With diamond, Norton and Shapton stones, sharpening A2 is a little more work but not a major hassle.

Here's what Brent Beach says about A2:

"If you sharpen a lot and keep your blades really sharp, you might be happy with high carbon steel blades from the classic period. I did not move to A2 blades until I got a CRYO treated Hock A2 blade. The extended really sharp period was worth the extra cost over classic Stanley blades. Once I found M2 blades, I switched to them [Feb 05]. Again, the extended really sharp period is worth the extra cost."

Frank
 

Alf

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Frank D.":e2jxpyt9 said:
Alf":e2jxpyt9 said:
Personally I like to sharpen pretty frequently 'cos I like to make my life easier by not pushing around a blunt edge, so the advantage of A2 is rather lost on me.
Alf, I think the advantage of A2 is that you can plane longer WITHOUT pushing around a blunt edge.
Yes, sorry, that needs a bit of clarification. I meant I really like the initial "ouch! that's sharp" period of the blade, and I'm not convinced the tiny benefit of A2 in that respect out weighs the slightly longer time on the oil stone or, more importantly, the extra expense. Good HCS is great stuff; it's the useless bits of cheese Stanley sell under the guise of plane irons that made everyone think you need some sort of fancy steel. And given the amount of time I get in the workshop I really, really don't need longer periods between sharpening 'cos all that happens is I lose the knack of getting a decent edge... #-o :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 
A

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Scott":27h41fhf said:
Once I found M2 blades, I switched to them
What are they? ('scuse my ignorance! :? :oops: )
M2 is another steel alloy. Some makes (Mujingfang is one) refers to their M2 blades as a high speed steel. My limited experience with one blade (Academy Saw Works) was that it would hold an edge longer than A2.
 

Frank D.

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Derek might be familiar with M2 blades, I believe they are popular in Australia because of the tough woods they have there. I find M2 and other HSS too hard to sharpen with water stones. My shop is too small to have a motorized setup like Derek's for sharpening. Here again we can see that it's a matter of compromise between convenience, woods most often used, sharpening system etc. Any good steel will get the job done. A2 hits the sweet spot for me, I can go substantially longer between sharpenings compared to O1 (HC) and I can sharpen it quite easily with my current system.
 
A

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Alf":1pnvolu8 said:
Yes, sorry, that needs a bit of clarification. I meant I really like the initial "ouch! that's sharp" period of the blade, and I'm not convinced the tiny benefit of A2 in that respect out weighs the slightly longer time on the oil stone or, more importantly, the extra expense. Good HCS is great stuff; it's the useless bits of cheese Stanley sell under the guise of plane irons that made everyone think you need some sort of fancy steel. And given the amount of time I get in the workshop I really, really don't need longer periods between sharpening 'cos all that happens is I lose the knack of getting a decent edge... #-o :lol:

Cheers, Alf
As usual, I'm in your camp. I have some A2 blades and I like them but I won't spend money replacing vintage laminated HCS blades. I normally use a series of planes so none get very dull. I also keep several spare 2" and 2 3/8" blades at hand so a sharp blade is always available. Sharpening blades in batches increases my efficiency so I don't find sharpening the chore some seem think it is.
 

Scott

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M2 is another steel alloy. Some makes (Mujingfang is one) refers to their M2 blades as a high speed steel. My limited experience with one blade (Academy Saw Works) was that it would hold an edge longer than A2.
Thanks Roger :)
 
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