Magnacut - Open the Floodgates?

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Established Member
24 Aug 2015
Reaction score
No affiliation with any of all. Not even buying any of this stuff to try.

But this steel is the concoction of a metallurgist who is relatively local to me, and the guy knows his stuff. He has tested coupons for me, but really doesn't approve of what I'm doing and I kind of learned of it third hand about how dumb he thought it was. He wouldn't say it that bluntly, but that's what I gathered when his dad who is much less tactful said "OH, I know who you are!!" and gave me the "you aren't going to get many likes talking about the things you want to talk about - go away".

Those things are heat treating in a forge, and the little bit of a poo storm that I created by bettering the 26c3 results and matching O1 doing something that doesn't come close to matching the schedule.

At any rate, the maker of the metal, I had discussions with saying that the woodworking market was ripe for some carbon steels that would have decent toughness, fine particles and high hardness. That's all fine and good - there's really no market for it.

Fast forward to now, and Lake Erie (who made the screw that I have in my bench) has apparently bought some of the bar stock - I seriously doubt the metallurgist is involved in any of it, nor did my comments about pointing some of these alloys at woodworking being an idea to pick off amateurs have any effect because we are all a bunch of stingy folks compared to the average buyer of a $250 production folder with not-that-much steel in it.
What is it in the next post. from my thoughts, not the ad copy.
The steel in question here is a small particle powder metal steel (much finer than V11) that has slightly better toughness than V11 at the same hardness, and in theory, a higher top end (potentially c65), but that has no practical purpose that I'm aware of, especially if it's chippy.

Chippy upper limit hardnesses are more popular in thin knives that are just used for relatively stress free cutting.

This stuff instead was supposed to be a stainless that compared to CPM 4V (not seen in woodworking tools - a 4% powder carbon steel)

* if it's 62 hardness as it says it is, it will wear about as long as V11, which is only chromium carbides for practical purposes
* it will be more stainless than V11. V11 is stainless for practical purposes, but will stain lightly if used in knives
* it'll be interesting to see if people get this (magnacut) with it having 6% sum vanadium and niobium carbides and have trouble sharpening it

Vanadium and niobium carbides are great for metal to metal or metal to sand type stuff, but I tested a whole bunch of plane irons and think for cold work (not turning), there's no real benefit to vanadium in amounts large enough to create free roaming vanadium carbides.

Sharpening will be inefficient with anything other than diamonds, but to sharpen V11 enough to avoid carrying over nicks, silicon carbide or diamonds or very often grinding should be used. It's possible that the carbides may be small enough that it won't be as bad to sharpen as I think it will. if vanadium carbides are big, sharpening even with stuff like shaptons is a no go.

Since the steel itself is not a hot work steel, the abrasion resistance will make for some very hot grinding when hot isn't wanted.
MagnaCut, a Transformer or a Power Ranger bad guy?

Basically, David, no real advantage here for 99% of people?

What actual advantages could there be? Someone planing the edges of MDF? I could treat my planes as disposable commodities at those prices.
No, there's no real advantage except maybe to beginners. But V11 already has that covered. It's novel, though.

And the writing about the imaginary boogey man corrosion going on at a rate that would make a difference is humorous. I've had none since moving to oilstones and without them, it's typically at the junction between the cap and iron. I did have corrosion issues with waterstones if not being somewhat religious about wiping steel and iron with oily rags.

You can just plane MDF and corian and other things with regular blades, of course. the return in edge life will be proportional as long as the initial edge holds up. If it doesn't, there a trick (buffer!!) to make the apex more tolerant of initial abuse.

I'm going to sit back and wait for the expert opinions on how this should be sharpened. I don't know what Chris Schwarz will do with himself after peddling this kind of stuff for a long time with a different hat on and then claiming that he would save everyone money by keeping them away from the shills and such.

All that said, I don't have any issue with lake erie toolworks, I like the screw that I got from them and there's nothing dishonest about the effort here. The writing about stability and rust is probably just due to lack of experience actually using hand tools on a regular basis and maybe this little exercise will shed some light on how ordinary LV's actual efforts were to choose an alloy vs. how they were rolled out and marketed with people walking around saying on their behalf that they had "developed a new steel" (V11 just appears to be XHP).

Too on top of that, LV didn't exactly make bank - their marketing effort and lack of forthrightness in terms of what the alloy was (my opinion) was followed by very reasonable costs for the irons. I don't think the risk of someone else making irons of the same thing was very high because widespread availability of the alloy just wasn't there (I can find it and buy it only in one thickness).

Magnacut is much more recent, larrin is actively doing this development of finer carbide alternatives as a side job (he has a day job working for a steel company here, but he's a legit "boss" when it comes to refining blade steel development), and I think we'll see more of this for what I can't define more compactly than the "Fred West" types and the followers who have been hard up since 9 pound infill smoothers and "better than stanley" production planes have been far slower to appear in the last half decade.
A follow up comment about this otherwise, too:

* there's a bevel up planemaker in australia (can't remember the name) making 10V plane irons. 10V is almost 10% vanadium, and would wear very slowly if you could keep it from encountering things that would chip it.

Magnacut and XHP show up almost dead even on the catra test (theoretical limit wear that compares very favorably to feet planed in clean uninterruped wood).

So if we start seeing reviews about how this lasts longer than V11, you'll know they're rubbish. If we start seeing reviews about how v11 lasts measurably longer, we'll know that's also no bueno.

10V, on the other hand, has another 40-45% of edge life in the tank. If it's hard to get V11 to go it's full edge lifetime without getting nicks, ....just how practical is that extra amount? Probably not very.
It'd be good if somebody could finally solve the mystery of the plane. :unsure: People have been thrashing away with them for 2000 years or more but just making such a horrible mess!
It'd be good if somebody could finally solve the mystery of the plane. :unsure: People have been thrashing away with them for 2000 years or more but just making such a horrible mess!

I hear people often get bad advice from shaper/planer users who claim to do more hand tool woodworking than they actually do.
I was wrong about 10V...sort of.

In trying to find the aussie maker of the 10V irons, I found that a machine or grinding shop in the US is now also selling 10V plane irons.

Again, not temped, but the 10V irons are only about the cost of an A2 iron.

Interestingly, the seller of the 10V irons in the US has no comment about their heat treatment or hardness. I hope for the sake of the people who buy them that they're flat.
Just for balance, the Fred West reference is a recently deceased US tool collector, not the Cromwell St Fred West serial killer, just in case people thought David's post was off.

Based on your experience, if you had a Bailey plane without an iron and let's park making one or NOS Stanley/Record, which one would you buy and why? I have a hunch but it'd be good the hear it.
I guess I'd buy a hock O1 and knowing what I know, I'd temper it back a point or two until it was a little sweeter and then grind the ugly off of the top profile.

I'd buy an early mid 1900s stanley iron ahead of it, though.

if the iron becomes that critical, too many thin shavings are being taken when thicker shavings should be taken to work up to one or two very thin passes.
Forgot that when I tried to find out who fred west was, all I saw was hits for a serial killer.

Definitely different guy - seemingly well liked, but not a woodworker, rather a prolific buyer and displayer of tools who would've been good for boutique tool makers to sell to if the hook didn't catch woodworkers.

The enormous collection of unused tools left behind, some being sold poorly marked which will result in low yields...a shame.

A walk back through memory lane led me to see an old fracas over an 8 1/2 pound 2" wide smoother that was supposedly a step up for "experienced hand toolers".

I have known collectors like Fred, but not in woodworking. There was usually a dynamic of wanting to be socially involved and be sort of a matchmaker without the burden of actually being involved in the hobby. it's a little inefficient, but it does keep some people in business, and not usually at the expense of serious hobbyists.

magnacut and 10V irons in caterpillar weight planes would've been the bees knees. Some of that seems to have died off, but I think a lot of that is that the folks who don't really want to woodwork but imagine they will are going and imagining that they'll do something else. What it is, though, I don't know.
Good to know, thanks David.
I had to buy an iron for a block plane and went for a Ray Iles. experience with them? I like it well enough and they retain the same look as the original.

It's hard to know what they are, but I'd guess O1.

If so, if the spec is somewhere around 61/62, that'd be pretty good. Not a big fan of O1 tempered below 60 - it doesn't really make sense.

Hock tempers it hard, but people like that, and that's pretty easy to fix, as mentioned above.

As far as the article states about the bevel, I can partially cut a bevel and game the warp, and I think most people could. It differs by the alloy. For example, if you cut a bevel half the thickness of the steel on O1, there will be some warp, maybe more than most people want. If you do it on something like 1084 or 26c3, it'll be an enormous amount.

The more a steel warps, the less bevel you cut. If I get 1 out of 20 irons that doesn't warp away from the bevel side, I'd be surprised.
I tracked down the listing 59-61 hardness target.

With a 400F temper, I get just under 62. I don't know if that hardness target is hit, as A. Iles chisels have tested a little above their spec and the ones I had felt like it (not a bad thing in chisels).

One of the ways to minimize warping in O1 is to slow the quench a little bit, curtail the tail end or finish the cooling in still air, and then get into tempering right away. It comes at the consequence of converting austenite to martensite. I don't like the trade - I'll deal with controlling warp with technique to get the extra two points of hardness, the iron will be a little better.

O1 has another characteristic that some other plain steels have - tempering embrittlement. Meaning if you start hard like I do and then go back to something like 59, the result will be less tough than the steel would've been at higher hardness, so if one is going to hit 59/60, it's better to do it by hitting a lower quench hardness and tempering back to 400F than to hit a high target and temper 450F+

Some of that may be a little meaningless, but it boils down to my preference for a 61.5 or 62 hardness out of a fast quench and 375-400F. You end up with the same edge life as higher hardness (I slightly bettered the hock iron with an early iron that I made when testing other irons) but without the initial chippiness.

I think one of the things people like so much about hock irons is that having an iron that's a little undertempered does result in a feeling if sharpening ease because most medium fine or finer sharpening finishes result in no perceptible burr. It's the same reason that you will see people say V11 sharpens more easily than A2 - it doesn't, it sharpens more slowly, but LV delivers it at a high hardness level and it gives up its burr OK given the amount of alloying.

so, given that I have options - if I had to get something, especially for heavier work, the Iles iron would be fine. If it was delivered at 61, it would be fine. If it was delivered at 59 and I bought it for a smoother, I'd be a little bit disappointed.

For jack, jointing and try work, I would probably actually like it a little better at 59, but there are very few people who are using a combination of planes for their actual purposes rather than just fitting and having an array of smoother lengths.
(this all sounds picky - but it doesn't appear that most of the market chose oil hardening steel before the boutique market started up. Why that is, I don't know. I'm sure some of it is cost, and some is because it isn't really needed.

We are now in an environment where most of the water hardening steel or the older alloys that were minimally alloyed are not used, except maybe someone like Pfeil is using some kind of 0.8 or 0.85% carbon CV steel. I don't think they would tell us exactly what it is, but they're forging tools and that stuff works well for drop forging and then finishing tools.

without sending a bunch of old tools for XRF - before, and after irons became solid, I'd never be able to guess exactly what things were. I have noticed, though, that when tapered plane irons went to solid steel, they got softer and some of those may be oil hardening or the like, and there's some correlation between things like stanley chisels, tapered plane irons, etc, that feel like they might be oil hardening, and the thickness of the tools. O1 steel hardens through the entire thickness a lot easier than water hardening steels.

Or, in short, the options for plain steels now just aren't very robust, and I would expect that won't change when the typical wood show buyer just wants to hear they won't have to flatten a tool back, and won't sharpen enough of anything to appreciate how much nicer plain steels are to work with day to day than something like A2 .
He knows his stuff. I couldn't get him interested much in the whole woodworking thing, though. What makes a great knife steel is something that doesn't break. If knives don't break, people don't return them and claim they broke doing almost nothing.

The concept of what makes a great paring chisel, smoothing plane iron or carving gouge doesn't really play with the folks testing skinny knives twisting bark off of trees.

And while $85 sounds like a lot for a plane iron, putting half as much steel in a $200-$350 folding knife puts us in our place. We'll get to use what the market develops for other users, and the Xray analysis of V11 posted on the blue forum in the US suggests that it's CTS-XHP - developed for knives, scissors and commercial kitchen equipment and not really widely used at this point that I can see.
I ordered a magnacut iron. Who was I kidding thinking I wouldn't. The chance that I'll keep it is near zero, but I'll find out how it compares to stuff that more sane people would use and then wait until the guy is out of stock between batches and dump it on ebay.

I'll compare it to a house XHP iron that tested neck and neck with LV V11 (no longer have any of those), and get a picture of the carbide patterning to make sure that the commercial goods match up with the micrograph pictures. Sometimes the production stuff isn't quite as good as the smaller test melts, but I'd be surprised in this case given the gatekeeper.
I'm a certified public accountant by profession, but I have a deep interest in Bose-Einstein condensate states in edge plasma.

Shall I share?

I did notice that Lake Erie is making their irons in a thinner version which might be a better fit for certain old planes. I don't know diddly about the steel, probably couldn't hone it with my kit anyway, but I thought it was a nice touch.
Last edited: