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BigFryMan

Best first block plane

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An old 102 and a 220 found on eBay for a good price will never fail you. Get a second 102 for spare parts, the cap irons snap if you handle them hard and crank. It only takes once then you learn.  

 

Get two blades for the 220 and make one of them into a toothed blade and look up Roger Hargraves notes on how to plane ribs. 

 

I have a nice 102 with a lever mechanism. A friend saw it on my bench a said,"Oh those are nice but the lever slips and you can't get the blade to stay put." Nice try buddy, it works great. I'll take a picture of it; 

 

Lots of modern planes are pretty good, I have a few fancy new ones from the last 15 years. But I always have the 102 or 220 on the bench. The old plane irons are fine too. 

 

( Psssstt, don't listen to "plane nerds" who tell you to get a ton of stuff. You don't need it. ) 

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Lie Nielsen claims that their ductile iron castings are stress relieved before machining. Supposed to hold their shape.

 

SIP and DIXIE looked into this and their conclusion was that simple aging, even for years ( 7 for SIP ) does absolutely nothing.

Thermal treatment is needed. If that's what Lie Nielsen does, it works to a point. A usable point. Not a gage one...  :)

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This one :

 

http://www.leevalley.com/US/Wood/page.aspx?p=47881&cat=1,41182

 

( low angle version ) works nicely for me. Blades are excellent steel and once sharpened stay sharp

for a long time. Bit pricey but I'm all thumbs and I don't like to have to fight the tool, too. The ability

to close the mouth to a hair helps a lot. A toothed plate, for thinning ribs is available, too. I have

spare blades at different angles up to almost scraping plane territory. That takes care of the low/high

angle issue. And bevel up planes are somehow easier to keep sharp than bevel downs.

 

Stanley has a 91/2 and a 601/2 which are very nice, fully adjustable but on the heavy side. 

 

 

I second this..  

The Stanley isn't lapped.  So you'll need to invest several days lapping and $50 is materials.

I also find the 9 1/2 controls are too high (CORRECTION: Mine is Stanley Bailey not a 9 1/2). 

I love the Lee Valley Low Angle Block Plane, it works considerably nicer than my original Bailey. 

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The Veritas block plane looks like a really nice design. Haven't used or taken one apart, so don't know about the quality of the machining.

The machining is good on my Veritas block plane. Only complaints are the blade adjuster advances faster than I'd like, and I'd like the option to buy it with a Hock blade rather than their blade.

When I was doing 50 hours/week cutting bridges and dressing boards we studied some of the tool wear under a microscope as we were trying to settle on the preferred blade angles and re-tempered some of our tools to help edge quality and durability. No question that Hock makes the best blades out there, but Lie Nielsen isn't far off, and Veritas is a bit behind, but better than most standard plane blades. I think there may have been a quality shift when Hock outsourced some of the work, but they were still great blades.

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Sure, tuning up a plane can be work. I think for something like a jointer, where flatness is of the utmost importance and where the size makes tuning difficult, buying a new Lie-Neilsen is worth it. Block planes are really very simple animals and it's not challenging to flatten them on a small flat surface and some sandpaper.

M

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The Stanley isn't lapped.  So you'll need to invest several days lapping and $50 is materials.

 

 

Stephen, this is how you lap almost for free : get a piece of Al plate 3/4" about twice the size of the plane.

Given how they're made, it'll be very flat over such small area.

Get some carborundum grit, like 150-180 sandpaper. I take what falls from my grinder.

Finer, if time is no issue. With a light hammer,

hammer the carborundum into the plate. It will stick. :) Wash and hammer some more where needed.

Wash all leftovers, wet it with kerosene and lap away with very little pressure in a figure of 8 -ish.

Keep washing off lose particles and adding kerosene. If you want a better finish, have another plate

with finer grit and so on. You'll have it into gage quality in no time provided you keep lose particles away.

They damage the flatness. If you lap it too fine, it'll start sticking badly to the wood. A properly made

lapping plate is VERY aggressive - it'll lap a block plane in minutes. Check the sole and once it's uniformly

gray and mate , it's finished. 

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Sure, tuning up a plane can be work. I think for something like a jointer, where flatness is of the utmost importance and where the size makes tuning difficult, buying a new Lie-Neilsen is worth it. Block planes are really very simple animals and it's not challenging to flatten them on a small flat surface and some sandpaper.

M

Flattening is the easy part. Much more time consuming are:

Getting the blade bed so it properly supports the blade so it won't move around or flex;

Getting the sides flat, and at right angles to the bottom (if it will be used with a shooting board);

Fitting the channels and support for the movable piece in front of the blade which adjusts the throat opening, so it doesn't flex, or change height when moved to different positions; same thing with the frog mounting when there's an adjustable frog.

 

I never purchased a Stanley, Bailey or Record that didn't need all these things. Little things like these can make the difference between a plane that's a dream to use, or a struggle.

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http://www.japanwoodworker.com/Product/157226/Imperial-Micro-Abrasive-Film---50-mic-4-x-24-AO-PSA-.aspx

I use the above micro finishing films along with a flat surface like a granite surface plate. ( I actually use some 1" thick tempered glass shelves that I salvaged from the bar at the old "Hard Rock Cafe" in San Francisco.) 180, 120 and 80 micron sheets are appropriate for lapping plane soles. The product is useful for many other tasks as well. I'm distressed to see that Japan Woodworker, my long time source, seems to be closing them out. I hope the manufacturer, 3M, isn't discontinuing them.

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Flattening is the easy part. Much more time consuming are:

Getting the blade bed so it properly supports the blade so it won't move around or flex;

Getting the sides flat, and at right angles to the bottom (if it will be used with a shooting board);

Fitting the channels and support for the movable piece in front of the blade which adjusts the throat opening, so it doesn't flex, or change height when moved to different positions; same thing with the frog mounting when there's an adjustable frog.

I never purchased a Stanley, Bailey or Record that didn't need all these things. Little things like these can make the difference between a plane that's a dream to use, or a struggle.

Which is why I agree with what you said in a previous post. It's well worth it to spend the money for a premium quality plane like a L-N or Veritas. They don't require anywhere near that level of tuning.

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SIP and DIXIE looked into this and their conclusion was that simple aging, even for years ( 7 for SIP ) does absolutely nothing.

Thermal treatment is needed. If that's what Lie Nielsen does, it works to a point. A usable point. Not a gage one...   :)

Interesting! 

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Interesting! 

 

Indeed. There are old pics showing hundreds of massive jig borer castings "seasoning" out in the field in the '20s or '30s - it was a marketing point for SIP ( Carl Zeiss :) ) , DIXIE or HOUSER. And for US car manufacturers : they used to season engine blocks. Later, it was observed and then confirmed that it was all a waste of time. Custom gage manufacturers will cycle certain products between 150-200C and a deep freezer ( -30C ? ) a few times, maybe 50. It probably does something however minute. There is no evidence that "cryogenic" treatment does anything but sell better. 

 

There is an interesting thing about Cast Iron : it "takes a set" easily. A No 8 jointer stored negligently or dropped sharply even for a small distance ( 1mm ), will bend. 

 

Sorry for the OT.

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SIP and DIXIE looked into this and their conclusion was that simple aging, even for years ( 7 for SIP ) does absolutely nothing.

Thermal treatment is needed. If that's what Lie Nielsen does, it works to a point. A usable point. Not a gage one...   :)

Thermal stress relieving is what Lie Nielsen claims.

There is also a recently popular vibration method for stress relieving castings. I don't know if it's real, or voodoo. Maybe you know?

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Thermal stress relieving is what Lie Nielsen claims.

There is also a recently popular vibration method for stress relieving castings. I don't know if it's real, or voodoo. Maybe you know?

 

The vibration method is real and works very well. In the past, it was apprentices with large hammers. Nowadays, the better plants will have a really big ultrasound machine. 

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Hi All - here is some required reading on the edge holding properties of plane blades made from various steels.

 

http://www3.telus.net/BrentBeach/Sharpen/bladetest.html

 

I bought a Japanese laminated blade from Dicks, read the article - removed the JLB and returned the laminated Stanley blade to the plane.

 

I confirm his findings.

 

cheers edi

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Hi All - here is some required reading on the edge holding properties of plane blades made from various steels.

 

http://www3.telus.net/BrentBeach/Sharpen/bladetest.html

 

I invested in a Japanese laminated blade, read the article - removed the JLB and returned the laminated Stanley blade to the plane.

 

I confirm his findings.

 

I won't. My experience has been that both the ease of sharpening to a keen edge, and edge holding properties, will vary a lot with different steels.

 

Or maybe you were taking emphasis from a different part of the article than I was?

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Hi All - here is some required reading on the edge holding properties of plane blades made from various steels.

 

http://www3.telus.net/BrentBeach/Sharpen/bladetest.html

 

I bought a Japanese laminated blade from Dicks, read the article - removed the JLB and returned the laminated Stanley blade to the plane.

 

I confirm his findings.

 

cheers edi

 

It's a very nice effort but I don't know how relevant it is. We don't know what would the results be if a particular steel would be optimized bevel angle wise and we have no indication of the force involved.

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I won't. My experience has been that both the ease of sharpening to a keen edge, and edge holding properties, will vary a lot with different steels.

 Hi David - you quite right - and that what BB's tests show.

 

I made a hunting knife from M2 for  friend of mine - never again. Getting the edge to razor sharp took forever.

 

post-98-0-90453200-1434489298_thumb.jpg

 

cheers edi

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It's a very nice effort but I don't know how relevant it is. We don't know what would the results be if a particular steel would be optimized bevel angle wise and we have no indication of the force involved.

Hi Carl - somewhere amongst the writings there is a section on measuring the force of the cutting edge.

 

I'm too lazy to set up for it  - if an edge shaves a free standing hair it's OK by me.

 

I recently got hearing aids and the edges seem to be lasting longer :-)

 

cheers edi

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The vibration method is real and works very well. In the past, it was apprentices with large hammers. Nowadays, the better plants will have a really big ultrasound machine.

Also interesting. Good hand saws used to be de-stressed by hammering after tempering.

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Fryman, if you believe you will make violins more than a few years then pay for a good one as suggested by others.  I use a off the shelf Stanley 9 1/2?, doesn't have a number.  Going on ten years or so that plane has shaved down a half dozen classical guitar rosettes flawlessly and neck shoulder areas of 8 violin necks with no problems.  Actually, that plane works for a lot of things woodworking wise, including ribs.  For ribs I use the Stanley, a Lakeside #4 and a sharp 101 hobby plane and scrapers.  I held a LN block plane once- it felt like holding gold compared to lessor planes.  

 

I read earlier where Carl said he has all of them or something like that.  Got me to thinking about the entire, now defunct, Santa Fe Railroad wood working shop collection of hand planes from before the mid-1950's.  I saw the entire collection a few years ago.  Anything to do with Stanley, and Bailey? should be represented.  I had not ever seen a #1 or #2 or a #8 bench plane before.  If Stanley made a #9 bench it would be there. The best were the little planes and the size 4 1/2 bench section.  If you are wealthy and want a collecton this collecton is for sale- over 100 planes easily, maybe closer to 200?  Two years ago is when I was last there, it may be gone, maybe not.  All pieces must go together, no separating.

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Hi Carl - somewhere amongst the writings there is a section on measuring the force of the cutting edge.

 

I'm too lazy to set up for it  - if an edge shaves a free standing hair it's OK by me.

 

I recently got hearing aids and the edges seem to be lasting longer :-)

 

cheers edi

 

I'll look for it. He's actually done some very nice experimental work there.

 

I must say that I see very little difference between various steels with my go to plane and the reason for that is that I strop it often.

Really no reason to let the edge wear until it really doesn't cut anymore. It's not like I do any production work. :) And about the only place I would like a "hyper edge" is for the knife I use to fit soundposts.

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It's a very nice effort but I don't know how relevant it is. We don't know what would the results be if a particular steel would be optimized bevel angle wise and we have no indication of the force involved.

 

My thought exactly.  High rockwell tends to hold an edge well, but can be brittle.  As a result I have moved to higher blade angles on the harder steel. It can hold an edge beautifully at a higher angle, while something like A2 doesn't take as keen of an edge and I prefer it at about 25 degrees.  Some of my bridge knives are between 35 - 45 degrees and takes an edge that easily shaves while still turning a nice tight radius.  Those are HSS high rockewell (~65?) blades.  I have probably a half dozen from the same company purchased over time, and their edge holding properties do not seem to be identical.  They claim the same specs, but I'm convinced that there is a noticeable difference from one blank to the next.  I vary blade angle depending on the application and the steel.  I've also noticed that my favorite Japanese fitting chisel (67 rockwell I think?) can maintain an edge that is fantastic for fitting bridges or other fine detail work, but does not like to take a lot of force.  I can go for weeks using it as a fitting chisel without sharpening, but a few passes with a lot of force on the edge and the edge suffers.  It also showed edge breakage during soundpost fitting more than from bridge fitting.  You could see the spruce winter grain tracks under the microscope in the way the edge fractured.  This chisel is probably too hard for the 25 degree blade angle for most applications, but for fine cuts it is better than anything I've used.  If I were to adapt the same chisel for less fine work I would probably raise the angle 5-10 degrees.  It seems as though a brittle edge like that will hold for a really long time unless you exceed the amount of force required to fracture the edge (hitting knots for example) while a softer blade will wear faster, but not fracture at the edge.  

 

I must say that I see very little difference between various steels with my go to plane and the reason for that is that I strop it often.

Really no reason to let the edge wear until it really doesn't cut anymore. It's not like I do any production work. :) And about the only place I would like a "hyper edge" is for the knife I use to fit soundposts.

 

I've never liked the strops because it takes me longer to get past the slight rounding later on.  I do sometimes maintain roughing tools and finishing tools.  A plane with an A2 blade is nice for roughing ebony, and a second plane setup with a high carbon blade does the fine work.  Similar with my bridge knives.  I have 2 identical knives and I try to reserve the most recently sharpened one for finishing touches.  Not as necessary when you're not doing production work.

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I've never liked the strops because it takes me longer to get past the slight rounding later on.  I do sometimes maintain roughing tools and finishing tools.  

 

 

That's true - the strop causes some rounding and eventually ends up wasting time and metal. I try to minimize the rounding by stropping on a piece of thick paper folded in two and using very light pressure. I sharpen with kerosene on "oil" stones because I don't like the constant fiddling with water stones and the slurry rounds the edge, too. While I can get a shaving sharp edge just on the finest Arkansas, stropping does something to the edge particularly when I strop with a diagonal movement. It refines the edge somehow, it's a distinct improvement. I don't think it's actually needed and it doesn't last long. I think the high pressure used to sharpen on an Arkansas stone work hardens the edge. There is something there. :) But Ark stones struggle to take a bite from the latest steels. 

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