All about plane irons – a summary

Right, that’s quite enough about plane irons.  Here is a summary: Sharpening bench planes – preparing the iron bench planes – grinding bench planes – sharpening angles bench planes – honing History bench planes – tapered or parallel blades? bench planes – thick or thin irons? Bench planes – blade steel choices bench planes – … Read more All about plane irons – a summary

Laminated plane irons – Stanley and Record

Following the previous articles about iron, steel and plane cutters it may be tempting to view laminated cutters as an historical curiosity from a forgotten era of wooden planes, wrought iron and crucible steel. However, modern manufacturing companies like Record and Stanley chose to use laminated irons in their metal planes right up until the … Read more Laminated plane irons – Stanley and Record

Sheffield Crucible steel, end of an era

Crucible steel was still in demand well into the twentieth century, despite competition from the steel created by the spectacularly successful (and much cheaper) large-scale production processes introduced by Bessemer and Siemens. You can read about how crucible steel was made here. This account from 1905 describes a processes essentially unchanged since its inception over … Read more Sheffield Crucible steel, end of an era

Iron and steel – part IV (Bessemer steel)

By the 1850s the best crucible steel was the standard choice for makers of edge tools and no other steel had been found that could better it at any price.   However, the steel making industry – driven by the increased demand for the large castings needed to satisfy rapidly expanding railway, armaments and ship building … Read more Iron and steel – part IV (Bessemer steel)

Iron and steel – part III (Crucible steel)

As explained in the previous post the carbon in blister-steel was not absorbed consistently throughout the metal and, since the amount of carbon in the metal determines how it hardens when heat-treated, this was problematic for edge tool manufacturers who needed to create tools with a consistently hard edge. During the 1740s Benjamin Huntsman invented a … Read more Iron and steel – part III (Crucible steel)

Iron and steel – part II (Blister steel)

Bar-iron  (also known as wrought iron) was the raw ingredient for creating a form of steel known commonly as blister steel, and blister steel was in turn the primary ingredient for the “crucible” steel used by Sheffield tool makers. To convert bar-iron to steel,  carbon must be added back into the metal in a controlled … Read more Iron and steel – part II (Blister steel)

Iron and steel – part I (Wrought Iron)

As discussed in the previous post, plane blades from the 19th century were typically made of a wrought iron backing with a hard steel bit welded to the tip 1)towards the end of the end of the century solid steel plane cutters and chisels became increasingly popular and the discovery of new steel making processes … Read more Iron and steel – part I (Wrought Iron)

bench planes – laminated vs steel blades

If you pick up a wooden bench plane from the the last century (there are lots of them about still!) the chances are it will have a ‘laminated’ cutting iron1)we are going to touch on some basic metallurgy with many mentions of iron in this post, so I will refer to them as ‘blades’ herein. … Read more bench planes – laminated vs steel blades

Bench planes – blade steel choices

Makers of edge tools, including plane blades, need to be concerned about several different properties of steel: Toughness: This is the ability of the steel to deform without breaking, cracking or chipping.   Materials that lack toughness are said to be brittle1)sharpening angles have an effect here – the narrower the angle the less metal … Read more Bench planes – blade steel choices