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Plane Irons.

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Phil Pascoe

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worth a look.
 

Jacob

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Best bet is to buy another old plane. Plenty of them about and likely to be cheaper than a new blade.
 
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D_W

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I've bought from G&M and some other IDs from the UK (carmad or something like that, as well as others).

Make sure you get an iron and cap iron in a set as the caps and irons often don't fit each other even if they're the right width (iron after slot is too long for the space between the cap screw and front edge).

Fair chance that a new iron will require significant wedge refitting or making a new wedge.
 

andy hamilton

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I have a couple of those old wooden smoothing planes. Need an iron for them.
Does anyone have any ideas on who sells them?
The supply of genuine old irons for wooden planes must be drying up. I doubt if anyone makes them any more - not enough demand. "Iron" is a bit of a misleading term. Like Sorby chisels (and muliple other mainly Sheffield-based manufacturers) they would probably be cast carbon steel - anything up to about 0.8% carbon hardened and tempered (compared with non-hardenable mild steel with only 0.1% carbon). Cast iron is a difficult animal altogether - as far as I know not ideal for cutting tools. There's not much steelmaking left in the UK. Even if you could get hold of some carbon steel of the right dimensions, the cost of turning it into plane irons would be prohibitive.
I'm a fan of wooden planes - I've got a couple of jointers. Once sharpened the irons keep a good edge for ages. The low-friction sole and light weight make them a delight to use. But I was a fully-qualified metallurgist before I was a woodworker so I have a foot in both camps
 

Nigel Burden

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I have bought plane irons for wooden planes from G&M Tools hence my post above. They sometimes have new, old stock available, and at a price that's not too expensive.

Nigel.
 

D_W

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The early sheffield irons were some kind of water hardening steel, and usually cut hollow in the back to create a bias for good bedding in wooden planes. They're laminated, of course. How much carbon is in them is hard to tell - 0.8 and 1% carbon are hard to tell apart at same hardness unless you have some way to wear test them.

Later sheffield irons are solid and feel more like oil hardening steel on the stones (and unlike the earlier ones, they're flat wedge shaped and solid steel from end to end - and usually a tad thinner in double irons). nobody makes anything of the sort except for steve voigt as far as I know (in new slotted irons), but he's making them for his planes. Or rather, he's having LV make irons for him (or at least was) and making his own cap irons.

If anyone ever does come along making them in volume for wooden planes, they'll probably be like the later solid sheffield types, which aren't that great because the little hand made biases aren't in them, nor is tapering by width along their length.
 

andy hamilton

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I have bought plane irons for wooden planes from G&M Tools hence my post above. They sometimes have new, old stock available, and at a price that's not too expensive.

Nigel.
That's good news Nigel and I'm happy to be proved wrong. I left the alloy steel industry 35 years ago in favour of woodworking, so I'm probably out of date!
 

Nigel Burden

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That's good news Nigel and I'm happy to be proved wrong. I left the alloy steel industry 35 years ago in favour of woodworking, so I'm probably out of date!
I had a look at Old Tools UK but they were more expensive than anything that I've bought from G&M. There is also The Vintage Tool Shop in Stalbridge locally, although I have never bought anything from them.

The Stalbridge Shop – The Vintage Tool Shop

Nigel.
 

andy hamilton

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The early sheffield irons were some kind of water hardening steel, and usually cut hollow in the back to create a bias for good bedding in wooden planes. They're laminated, of course. How much carbon is in them is hard to tell - 0.8 and 1% carbon are hard to tell apart at same hardness unless you have some way to wear test them.

Later sheffield irons are solid and feel more like oil hardening steel on the stones (and unlike the earlier ones, they're flat wedge shaped and solid steel from end to end - and usually a tad thinner in double irons). nobody makes anything of the sort except for steve voigt as far as I know (in new slotted irons), but he's making them for his planes. Or rather, he's having LV make irons for him (or at least was) and making his own cap irons.

If anyone ever does come along making them in volume for wooden planes, they'll probably be like the later solid sheffield types, which aren't that great because the little hand made biases aren't in them, nor is tapering by width along their length.
If later Sheffield 'irons' were oil-hardened, they must have been medium to high carbon alloy steels. The alloying additions to steel (typically 3% chromium plus a bit of molybdenum) would improve hardenability so oil-quenching or even air cooling instead of the more drastic water-quenching would achieve the required hardness (at higher cost because of the addition of expensive alloying additions). The earlier irons would have been plain carbon so would have needed quenching in water to achieve the rapid cooling needed to harden the steel. The same hardness can be achieved from a range of carbon contents, alloy content and tempering temperatures
 

Doug B

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Don’t know if Ray Iles would have anything suitable
 

andy hamilton

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I had a look at Old Tools UK but they were more expensive than anything that I've bought from G&M. There is also The Vintage Tool Shop in Stalbridge locally, although I have never bought anything from them.

The Stalbridge Shop – The Vintage Tool Shop

Nigel.
I didn't know there was an old tools shop in Stalbridge. It's not that far from me so I'll have a look when I'm next in that part of Dorset.
 

Jacob

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Metallurgy not my thing but all the old woody planes I've seen (with blades above 2" wide or so) have laminated blades - thin hard steel on the face and thick softer stuff on the back. Otherwise they'd be a pipper to sharpen. I doubt anybody today makes them laminated but I could be wrong. Which means if you buy an old plane it's going to cost far less than new blade and probably be far superior.
 

D_W

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If later Sheffield 'irons' were oil-hardened, they must have been medium to high carbon alloy steels. The alloying additions to steel (typically 3% chromium plus a bit of molybdenum) would improve hardenability so oil-quenching or even air cooling instead of the more drastic water-quenching would achieve the required hardness (at higher cost because of the addition of expensive alloying additions). The earlier irons would have been plain carbon so would have needed quenching in water to achieve the rapid cooling needed to harden the steel. The same hardness can be achieved from a range of carbon contents, alloy content and tempering temperatures
Look up O1 - less alloying than that. Just enough for them to through harden in thicker cross sections than water hardening steels. I haven't looked up the alloy in a while, but would guess molybdenum and a very small amount of chromium.
 

D_W

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Metallurgy not my thing but all the old woody planes I've seen (with blades above 2" wide or so) have laminated blades - thin hard steel on the face and thick softer stuff on the back. Otherwise they'd be a pipper to sharpen. I doubt anybody today makes them laminated but I could be wrong. Which means if you buy an old plane it's going to cost far less than new blade and probably be far superior.
Marples probably made laminated irons into the 60s and some of the continental makers made them late, but none were particularly inspiring.

The oil hardening blades are solid steel, thinner and often a touch soft, probably to make them easy to sharpen on site.

The older laminated irons seem to vary more by maker than within maker. Ward are usually hard and buck and freres are generally soft but fine steel.

I probably have about 60 or 70 double iron sets waiting for a plane to go into.
 

D_W

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I just looked it up. Little bits of a bunch of elements, but not much of any particular one.
 

andy hamilton

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Look up O1 - less alloying than that. Just enough for them to through harden in thicker cross sections than water hardening steels. I haven't looked up the alloy in a while, but would guess molybdenum and a very small amount of chromium.
I'd never heard of O1, probably because I left metal manufacturing in 1985. So I looked it up as you suggested. It's a wrought alloy steel but I couldn't see a standard specification for it. My time in metal manufacture was in cast steels and nickel alloys, so most of the specifications I came across were for cast alloys - mainly ASTM series, British Standards and German Werkstoff series. 3% chromium, 0.5% moly, 0.3% carbon was a common steel for structural applications needing strength and toughness, with higher carbon for cutting tools.

This is wandering off the subject a bit, but most of the German low-alloy steels were very different, a legacy of WW2 when Germany had no access to certain alloying additions. From memory I think molybdenum was one of the ones they couldn't get, so a lot of German alloy steels substituted tungsten (or maybe it was the other way round)
 
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