View Full Version : Replacement Plane Blades - Apples to Apples, Oranges to Oranges

Dwain Lambrigger
03-03-2011, 11:19 AM
I am looking to replace my stanley type 11 #4, 5.5 and 8 planes with new blades. I see that the Hock blades are on sale at Craftsman Studio. I see that the A2 Hock blade is still more expensive on sale than the Lee Valley blade. I would like to choose from one of the two based on price and positive reviews.

Is the A2 worth the $9.00 difference in cost for the Hock blades and the $4.50 difference on the Lee Valley blades? I know it doesn't seem like much, but these things add up, and I haven't heard big difference between the two based on what I have read here and elsewhere.

I was leaning toward the LV, but if I could justify the difference, I would gladly buy Hock, to support a company in the US.


Sean Hughto
03-03-2011, 11:31 AM
They are all fine. I have many Hock products including replacement blades, and have been very satisfied. I have many LV products, many with blades, and have been very satisfied. Most of my vintage Stanley's, however, have LN "Stanley replacement" blades. I like the fact that the thickness is reasonable, so the mouth need no filing, and that the top of the blade is tapered - instead of square as on the Hocks. In short, it's sort of personal preference. All are excellent.

David Weaver
03-03-2011, 11:32 AM
The choice of the A2 in hock vs. high carbon is going to have to be a personal choice. If you actually count strokes, the A2 will last longer before you have to sharpen. I don't know that I ever noticed the difference much until I counted once, and they do wear differently as they dull. From a practical "can i use it" standpoint, I would say pick one or the other, most of the preference will be in your head and not where the rubber meets the road.

The LV irons are (or were not) cryo treated like the rest of the A2 irons on the market, but I have to admit I don't know that I can tell the difference, and I haven't counted strokes on an LV iron vs. anything else. I don't think it's worth worrying about. Maybe someone else can take a new LV iron and a piece of hard maple or something and count the strokes until it stops cutting, and do the same for an A2 iron that has cryo treatment.

Brent beach has done some work on such a thing, and I think his test didn't show much difference between the LV and the LN irons, so the cryo treatment while it makes sense how it works, may not offer much practical difference in use.

Sean Hughto
03-03-2011, 11:41 AM
Long ago, I had to learn about chisels and planes and sharpening, and I'll admit that I too obsessed with whether this little thing or that made a difference. It's human nature. I can tell you that on the other side of that - with some experience - you'll quickly realize that this stuff just isn't that nuanced. Once the products reach a certain level of quality, the debates boil down to personal preferences - what you're used to - and that sort of thing. Angels on the head of pin. Make it sharp, and most of the rest takes care of itself.

Andrew Gibson
03-03-2011, 11:46 AM
I like the LV a2 blades best. I have a Hock a2 iron and chipbreaker in my #3. I have LV a2 irons in my #4 and #4-1/2. I have LV A2 Blades and chipbreakers coming today for my #5 and #7. I think the LV irons were a tad bit easier to flatten, but I may just be better at it now then i was when I got the Hock. If you are ordering more then $75 worth of stuff from Craftsman Studio I believe the shipping is free. That could play into your decision.

As for your #5-1/2, if it is an older type it may take a 2.25" iron. I think the #5-1/2 didn't start using a 2-3/8" iron untill type 18 ~ 1939

Russell Sansom
03-03-2011, 2:14 PM
I have all these irons. Just returning to "modern" hand woodworking after many years I have encountered the agony and the ecstasy of A2 steel. If you've only had high-carbon, I'd advise you to try A-2, even if it costs you $6 extra. The good news is that edges can last quite a long time. The bad news is that they take longer to sharpen than high carbon. There are times when I prefer going to the sharpening station more often if my time there will be brief. Grinding out a nick in an A-2 chisel using a Tormek took a surprising amount of time ... like 5 or 10 times longer than high carbon would have taken.
After that first shock I understood the tradeoff to me. For me, A2 turns out to be more efficient in general. If there's a nick or a change in bevel angle, then the A2 deal-with-the-devil comes due.