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Thread: Blade & Iron, or Iron Alone?

  1. #1
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    Blade & Iron, or Iron Alone?

    I have a number of Record planes gifted to me from a pal's late father's estate. Some of them are "modern" a few older Stanleys made in Canada.
    I recently bought a 2" Lee Valley blade and iron (A2) and I noticed how thick the cap iron was in relation to the old one - the blade is a little thicker, but it's not my question.
    What MORE contributes to the easy cutting of wood - the blade, or stiffness of the cap iron?
    All the original setups have a bad habit of loading up with fine shavings as the cap iron distorts under the pressure of the screw being tightened. The new LV blade/iron combo doesn't - and believe me, I have worked on those old cap irons and they are dead flat and square.
    I searched the site, but I can't see anything like this question on here. Please forgive me if I missed it, somehow.
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  2. #2
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    I'm certainly no expert but I'd be willing to bet that the blade matters more than the chipbreaker (cap iron). I bought an A2 blade from Lee Valley for my No. 5 jack plane a year or so ago and it made a big difference even with the original chipbreaker. I use this plane for rough work and with that setup I have had zero problems with chatter so long as the blade is sharp. The extra thickness is only one part of the equation--I do think the steel in the new blades is better. Some of my old Stanley blades are great but the quality is not super consistent.

    Of course, I'd be willing to bet that the thicker chipbreakers Lee Valley and Hock sell would make a difference on their own as well. Besides the obvious issue of magnitude of force applied to the blade, they might allow for more consistent pressure on the chipbreaker from the lever cap. One issue I discovered with my old chipbreakers is that the shape can make it difficult for the lever cap to exert consistent force as you adjust the blade/chipbreaker forward or backward. Take a look at one of those planes and you'll see what I mean--the lever cap will exert the most force if it is pushing down on the apex of that curve at the front of the chipbreaker. If you move the blade/chipbreaker forward enough and your lever cap is a bit short then it starts to slide down the back of that round part of the chipbreaker. Maybe it really doesn't have any noticeable effects but I wouldn't be surprised if it did. Moral of the story, if the money isn't an issue I'd get both and remove all doubt.

    Gah, that whole paragraph would have been so much easier with a diagram...sorry.

    And not to open a can of worms...but since you are concerned with the ease of cutting wood...have you read much about different frog angles or "angles of attack"?

    If I recall correctly one of David Charlesworth's books (Hand Tool Techniques?) discusses issues like this. I'll try to dig into it later if I have time.

  3. #3
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    If you are getting shavings between the original chipbreaker and iron, they need more work. Did you hone the chipbreaker dead flat? You want to undercut the leading edge, so that when the screw is tightened the very leading edge of the chipbreaker is the part in contact with the back of the iron. If you hone it dead flat, without undercutting, you end up with the leading edge tilting a little as the screw tightens, opening a space for the shaving to wedge its way in.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Rosenthal View Post
    I have a number of Record planes gifted to me from a pal's late father's estate. Some of them are "modern" a few older Stanleys made in Canada.
    I recently bought a 2" Lee Valley blade and iron (A2) and I noticed how thick the cap iron was in relation to the old one - the blade is a little thicker, but it's not my question.
    What MORE contributes to the easy cutting of wood - the blade, or stiffness of the cap iron?
    All the original setups have a bad habit of loading up with fine shavings as the cap iron distorts under the pressure of the screw being tightened. The new LV blade/iron combo doesn't - and believe me, I have worked on those old cap irons and they are dead flat and square.
    I searched the site, but I can't see anything like this question on here. Please forgive me if I missed it, somehow.
    Arron,

    Your questions are not easy to answer yet they are. Cryptic I know so here is a first go: The older thin cap irons work better than the new thicker ones to control tear out mostly because of the curved shape of the toe. Because they are thin and compress "dead flat and square" may not be correct. What is needed is for the leading edge pf the cap iron to make full contact with the back of the cutter when the two are mated.

    The cap iron has little to do with cutting wood. Single iron cutters will work as well as double irons but you lose one of the tools to control tear out with single irons.

    The old "Bailey" planes were near perfect with thin easy to shape and sharpen high carbon cutters, a cap iron that helped stiffen the cutter and was very good, when properly set, at controlling tear out. It sounds like you have a great gift, if the irons are in ok shape I would find someone to help you mate the cap irons to the cutters correctly and then go to work.

    ken
    Last edited by ken hatch; 05-15-2018 at 4:50 PM.

  5. #5
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    I'm not quite sure I'm quite getting what you're asking but I'll give it a go. All the old original chip breakers on Bailey pattern planes (that I've used) flex when being tightened until the screw is tight. None of them jammed up with shavings after I learned how to set up a cap iron. The flex shouldn't detract from the performance and shouldn't cause a jam if the cap iron has been prepared correctly. My favourite plane in my old school shop was a Record and it worked beautifully with its original iron and cap iron. My teacher went out one day to get a few of the LV replacements and the Record got a new A2 set up same as yours. No difference in performance (and no difference in edge durability since kids were slamming these blades into everything from steel bench dogs to nails). The LV stuff is very accurate so if you're one to use a double iron setup to prevent tear-out this is easy to set up. If your original setup is jamming then something isn't setup properly. If shavings are going in-between the iron and cap iron forming a clog that means your set up is not dead flat. As for what MORE contributes to the easy cutting of wood; (I'm puzzled by the question; any background info like is something chattering or?) a good sharpening habit is a front runner. There are many planes without a cap iron so I'd say the blade is a hefty contributor. I've made wooden plane bodies for stanley blades (no cap iron) and they worked fine; they might've had problems if they were in a jack plane body without a cap iron, some flexing-maybe. Planes work fine without cap irons and work fine with. a cap iron lends a helping hand to thin irons and when setup correctly prevents tearout, and should aid in ejecting shavings when setup right; never jam. Theres that David Weaver article on another site which I don't think I'm allowed to link to, Steve Voigt has written about the double iron too. The Weaver article should really help in setting up your old stuff to work just fine if you ever wish to. I don't think the LV cap iron thickness or the less "flex" it possesses was the game changer in your findings of no clogging; better machining and tolerances straight from the factory is most likely what led to the lack of clogging compared to the original setup.

    Vincent

  6. #6
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    This may help:

    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....ker-to-Jointer

    If you view SMC in linear mode it should be posts #27 & 28 with information on getting a cap iron (chip breaker) in shape.

    At the time of my writing this my knowledge about setting a cap iron was incomplete. It mentions setting it at about 1/32" from the blade's edge. There has been tests done to indicate setting it even closer is beneficial in preventing tear out.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Lawrence View Post
    If you are getting shavings between the original chipbreaker and iron, they need more work. Did you hone the chipbreaker dead flat? You want to undercut the leading edge, so that when the screw is tightened the very leading edge of the chipbreaker is the part in contact with the back of the iron. If you hone it dead flat, without undercutting, you end up with the leading edge tilting a little as the screw tightens, opening a space for the shaving to wedge its way in.
    Ok, so it appears my information might be wrong-and relooking at the question, I begin to see the ambiguity.
    You seem to be saying the if I make sure the cap iron is dead flat against the plane iron when untightened (milled flat) that I'm automatically introducing space where shavings can accumulate when the cap iron is tightened.
    OK, I was planning on playing with my #3 anyway, let's see what I can do with it.
    Thanks
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  8. #8
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    It's obvious to me now I used the wrong words.
    As has been pointed out here, the blade does the cutting, and I think that technique is relatively ok. I have both regular and bevel up planes and they all are extremely sharp after using my diamond plates plus strop.
    Where the poor cutting (poor choice of words?) comes in is from the mouth of the plane loading up with shavings after the space between the blade and cap clog, hence short planing times = frustration.
    I have an elderly-ish #3 I'm going to play with tomorrow and see if I can't get the cap set right.
    Thanks for the help.
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  9. #9
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    There are a few things that can cause the clogging other than an opening between the blade and cap iron.

    A combination of a tight mouth and the cap iron being set for fine shaving can also cause clogging.

    It is amazing how much trouble a few simple pieces of steel can be.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  10. #10
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    Thanks to you Jim, and everyone else.
    I worked for about 2 hours this morning, firstly getting the back of the #3 blade flat - ended up with a remaining little dip on one edge of the blade. Made sure it was sharp and the micro bevel was exactly according to "book".
    Then i re-flattened and polished the cap iron. Tried the combination, reworked the iron in stages kept trying it on the piece of teak and getting the same result as before.
    Even though I'm "retired" there is a value to my time.
    Since I had to pass by on my way back from a job, I went into my local Lee Valley store where I exchanged my A2 #5 blade with a PMV11 one, and bought a blade and iron set in PMV11 for the #3.
    Returned to the shop, cleaned the blades and honed, got to work. A different result entirely.
    My other Records and Stanleys work fine, but if I get the bug that a better blade can make the job go better or faster, I'll replace more blades.
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  11. #11
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    It took me several tries to get the chipbreaker right. For regular use it has to be good, but does not have to be perfect. If you want to use the “close-set” cap iron, it has to be pretty close to perfect.

    One issue I ran into with the replacement irons is that if you try to set the capiron closely, you end up with a jam because there is not enough room for the thicker iron and thicker capiron to fit in the mouth of the plane. On my number 3, with the LV replacements, and a close set chipbreaker, the iron could not be advanced into the mouth far enough for the cutting edge to protrude below the sole.

    People who like the new irons then told me “no problem, just break out the file and rework the frog and mouth so it works again.” At that point I thought to myself “If option A means I have to spend a bunch of time with stones working on the chipbreaker, and option B means I have to spend a bunch of time with a file working on the body, I would rather spend the time on the chipbreaker and save the money.”

    Not criticizing your decision (lots of folks love the new irons, and if you want PMV-11 or something you pretty much have to do that) just wanted to let you know of that potential issue (it does not seem to happen with everyone) so that you don’t think you are going crazy if it happens to you and you can’t figure out what you are doing wrong with the setup.

  12. #12
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    OK, try this...
    Where the chipbreaker meets the back of the iron...you want to "sharpen" the edge to a knife-like edge. Where the chipbreaker meet the flat back, it should be as thin as you can get it...so the rest of the knife edge tapers away (up?) from the iron. When you tighten down the bolt, that thin edge will flex just enough for a tight seal. Also, polish the curved "hump" so nothing rough, like a burr will attract a shaving...you want a polished, smooth transition for the shaving to follow.

    Also, check how the lever cap rests on the chipbreaker....any gaps there will also catch a bit of shaving, causing more shavings to stop and see what the "holdup" is....and clog the mouth. Polish the "ramp" the lever cap presents to the shavings..nothing abrupt, no burrs, ......work on the top of it, until smooth.

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