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Thread: Birthday gloat . . .

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    El Paso, TX

    Birthday gloat . . .

    Not much of a gloat as its not really that old but I've been eyeballing and " visiting " it for almost a year. LOML got tired of the nonsense ! Shes a good'un ! Think'n, now that we own one it'll get used a lot. BUT . . . since I've never had one, I'm wondering . . . are block planes worth a good ( Hock, etc. ) blade ? Or is it more like carrying a " utility " knife ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    Hey, i've got one of those - also my first block plane. I have a pretty good set of planes now that i use constantly, and that one gets called into service regularly. I've had mine about 8 or 10 years now - it's a good general use block with nice tight depth and lateral adjustments - and the adjustable throat is a must. It also fits my hand well and has enough heft to cut with authority in tricky grain.

    I won't be replacing this plane - it's a solid performer.

    Funny you should ask about an aftermarket cutting iron. My only complaint about this plane is the stock cutting iron that it came with. It takes an edge easily enough, but doesn't hold it very long. It also tends to nick pretty easily. I've put aftermarket blades on several of my bench planes and found a noticeable improvement each time. A replacement blade for my Stanley block is on my list. Hock makes both high carbon and A2 replacement blades. Lie Nielsen makes A2 blades. Cliffton makes high carbon blades. And Veritas makes A2 and O1 blades. All are high quality, though the Lie Nielsen and Veritas blades will require less work out of the box. I'm partial to the A2 blades, but my Hock high carbon works quite well also.

    The replacement block plane blades come .125" (1/8") thick or even thicker. 1/8" is great and offers a huge improvement over the stock .080 blade thickness (reduces chatter).

    The only other thing you may want to do to your plane to make sure it's performing as well as it can is to make sure the blade seats perfectly flat against the sole casting. Loosen and remove the lever cap and check that the cutting iron doesn't wobble or rock against the casting. If so, break out a fine file and knock down the high spots, making sure you stroke the file flat and coplaner with how the blade seats. If there are any pits in the casting in the machined area where the cutting iron seats, fill them in with epoxy and file them smooth with the surrounding iron after it sets up.

    Also, check that the leading edge of the lever cap is flat across it's width where it presses against the cutting iron at its leading edge. You want no gap at all between the leading edge of the lever cap and the top of the cutting iron. You also want no gaps between the leading edge of the cutting iron and the machined surface of the sole casting where the cutting iron seats. Gaps in these locations invite blade chatter, which results in poor cut quality and frustration.

    Tuning your plane not only makes it perform better (which shortens your learning curve and gives you much better results), it also familiarizes you with your new tool, minimizing the intimidation that can come when teaching yourself a new skill.

    Finally, if you don't have one yet, you'll probably want a honing guide. There are the grey screw type models that clamp your plane irons or chisels between two jaws that ride along a roller. I think i paid $10 for mine, and it works really well. You'll also need to make sure that your sharpening stone is flat. I use a combination water stone, but oil stones or even sandpaper will work quite well. If you google "scary sharp method" you'll see how to get great results sharpening your plane iron with a piece of glass, sandpaper, and a honing guide.

    Few things are more frustrating that using a dull cutting tool. Once you spend the time to innitially grind and sharpen an iron correctly, it's really easy to maintain with a quick honing from time to time.

    Have fun with your new plane. It's a great gift.

    Paul Hubbman

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