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     A tour of Ron Hock’s shop.


I put an RFQ for all-carbide 9 1/2 plane blades into a specialty blade company and received the following reply.  I can now see why Mr. Boyd got a 1/2" section of carbide brazed onto his blade.  I'm really happy I didn't ask for a quote on their ceramic blades!

Of course,  if there are ten of you who  want to pay $175 per blade, who am I to stop you?  I'll furnish the name of the company on request off list.  No financial interest on  my part.

The Response:


Thanks for your inquiry.  I would anticipate that a prototype run of 10 blades would cost approximately $1750.  If this is still of interest to you, let me know and we'll work out what we need to do to get started!

Thanks, Andy Ringgold"  (Joe West)

    I do have the next  thing to carbide, high speed steel blades. (Alan Taylor)

      Alan's blades are excellent. My go to blade.  (Mike Canazon)

        I do all my finish planing with one of Alan's HSS blades.  I sharpen the blade on abrasive papers on plate glass, and then polish with a leather wheel and green compound.  Gets, and stays, veryyyyyyy sharp.  (Ted Knott)


I got my L-N 9 1/2 and I was wondering if I should change the L-N Blade to a Hock.   Also, does the sole of the plane needs flattening or is it good to go out of the box?  (Matt Baun)

    I have two L-N planes.  Both were completely ready to go right out of the box.  My 9 1/2 has a grooved sole and it is perfect.

    I use L-N blades on both, they've been great.  (Patrick Mullen)

    I have used both L-N and Hock blades. I find there is a difference but both are good.  I would be hard pressed to declare one better.  (Timothy Troester)

    I've used the L-N iron next to a Hock cryo iron and think the L-N is at least as good.  (Henry Mitchell)

    The Lie-Nielsen blade is every bit as good as  Hock blade, no need to switch. Also, it is better than good to go out of the box, I doubt if you could improve the sole of it no matter how hard you worked at it.  (John Channer)


Has anyone used the replacement A2 plane blades from Lee Valley Tools?  I'm struggling with the comparison to the Hock A2's that are sold by Golden Witch for twice the price.  Not trying to cheap out here, but I'd rather not pay an extra $25 for the Hock version if they are made up of the same material.  (Scott Bahn)

    I  recently  ordered some  Hock blades from  Lee Valley for my Lie-Nielsen 9 1/2. Don't fit, so I'll be sending them back. The dimension of the blade is OK, but the slot where the adjusting screw/cap fits is not even close. I checked and I'm still confused/not sure what to order. I'm going to give Hock Tools a call to find out what to order. I'm sure some of you have been through this before.  Would appreciate any words of wisdom. What do I order and from whom?  (Don Schneider)

      Well, I happen to live close enough to a Woodcraft Supply store to take my plane in and pick an iron that fit.  I'm not sure if they carry the Lee Valley, my iron is a Hock.  Frankly, I don't think it's much if any better than the iron that came with my plane (a 40+ year old Craftsman.)   (Neil Savage)

      There are two different Hock blades for the 9 1/2 plane. You need to talk to them before you order.  If I had it to do over I would just use the blade that comes with the plane. You can get it just as sharp as the Hook, and in less time, and save yourself a little money too.

      I know the Stanley blade doesn't hold a sharp edge as long as the Hock, but with a leather wheel or a felt wheel on a power set up you can put a razor edge on a iron in about 60 seconds.  (Mark Wendt)

      The only place to get replacement blades for your Lie-Nielsen plane is from Lie-Nielsen.  The design of their blade and the depth adjustment mechanism of the plane are unique.  Lee Valley sells A2 blades for Stanley 9 1/2 planes, and the ones with a 5/8" slot should work with a Record plane.  They also sell blades for their Veritas block planes, but again, those are a unique blade and will fit no other brand of plane.  (Robert Kope)

    The Veritas plane blades (A2) are made to fit the Veritas planes, of which I have two, and do not fit a newer (or older) Stanley. The A2 blades are  thicker too  (which contributes to a smooth cut).  I also have a Hock blade for a Stanley plane and use it sometimes, but the Veritas planes are so much better than a Stanley in terms of heft and ergonomics (plus the thicker blade and flat sole out of the box) that the edge easily goes to Lee Valley when I reach for a plane.  (Paul Franklyn)

      I noticed too that the Lee Valley blades are thicker, .125 as advertised in the current catalog I received.  I have the newer Stanley 9 1/2 made in the UK and I just measured it and I think the LV blades will work just fine.   The price  advertised  for  the  A2  is $24.50, but one needs to be careful in which version you order, it might require a phone call to make sure. (Scott Bahn)


Here's another plane question prompted by my inexperience.  How does one check the depth of the plane iron?  I am in the process of grooving my plane soles, and I have heard to set the plane iron just above the level of bottom of the sole.  I have also heard of people setting the plane to take a .002" or smaller cut.  How do you guys measure that?  My depth gauge doesn't seem to do that very well.  Is it experience?  Do you practice and mike the practice shavings?  (Jason Swan)

    I'm new too, but what I do is take some shavings from a test strip and measure them.  I think I saw this in Jack Howell's book.  (Tim Stoltz)


I hope this is not too far off the subject, but there is something that I would like an opinion on. I picked up two of the the new Hock cryo blades. I have found that they do hold up longer between sharpenings, but are not QUITE as durable as some others have reported. I get two strips planed between sharpenings, while some other posts have reported three or more strips. This is not surprising as each maker has their own opinion about when it is time to resharpen.

But this is what I have noticed. I can get the cryo blades much sharper. Now, this could be because I think they hold a finer edge and spend a bit more time on them, or it might be my imagination entirely, but they seem to end up with a finer final edge than the regular Hock blades. Has anyone else noticed this, and would there be a rational (metallurgical) explanation for it?

This is not to say that the regular Hocks do not take a fine edge. They do.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    From a metallurgical standpoint, the standard high carbon irons should take a finer edge.  This is because of grain size.  The introduction of chromium into the base alloy causes a general increase in grain size.  Larger grained steel is more difficult to put a super-keen edge on.  Once you have a keen edge, it should stay on there longer,  regarding general dulling (not chipping).  All, in general.  The tempering process may alter this general idea, I am not familiar with the effects of freezing steel.  That is what I am blaming for my failed attempt at making useful A2 irons last year. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!  (Troy Miller)


Want to get your opinion on plane irons. I've got the chance to have a blacksmith buddy of mine, do some tempering on my plane irons. He's an incredibly talented smith and has offered to harden the blades if I'd like. What I'm wondering is, how much difference does the iron make? I've got a hock iron I could give him and I have a Stanley Iron. I wonder if the metal   actually makes much difference, or is the hardness of the temper what really matters? I'm really not completely happy with the A2 blades I have for my Lie-Nielsen Plane. They're tough as hell, and last, but in no way do they cut as well as my Hock Blades. I've had to increase the bevel on the A2 blade to stop it from chipping and that could be part of the reason why it won't cut like the lower angle Hock Blade. Is there a steel out there that will hold an edge like the A2 blade and still cut like the Hock Iron, or am I living in dream world?  (Jim Bureau)

    I bought a couple A2 Hock plane blades from Chris Bogart that he had Ron Hock make for the Lie-Nielsen 9 1/2 planes.  I sharpened them last night but have yet to use them, but plan to try them this weekend. As far as the LN blades I've been somewhat disappointed (as have some others I've spoken to) with their A2 blades and even like their pre A2 blades better.  I really like the A2 Hocks I use with my Record and Stanley 9 1/2's so I have high hopes for the new ones for the LN plane (which is a really awesome plane).   (Bob Williams)


I know this was run to ground a few months back but does anybody out there use tungsten carbide cutters to plane bamboo strips?  If so, how long are you getting between sharpenings and does proper sharpening have any negative effect on the edge after a time? I know the edge is never as good as you can get with carbon  steel (and all the other cutting edge type alloys) but is it good enough to be worth looking into? (Tony Young)

    I haven't used a regular plane blade with a carbide tip, I believe Harry Boyd has that setup, but I've been playing around with the carbide cutter inserts on my Morgan handmill. It is possible to get them almost just as sharp as regular tool steel if you use diamond grinding wheels and diamond paste to sharpen carbide. The initial sharpness may not be quite as good, but they sure hold the edge a lot longer.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    All I use is carbide blades.  They don't get quite as sharp as steel, but still plenty sharp to cut bamboo.  No nodes lifted, etc., with a well-tuned plane.

    I use two planes -- a grooved plane to take me within 3-4 thousandths, and a flat soled planed for the last little bit.  That's all I use -- no scrapers.  I have two blades for each plane and sharpen all four blades after every rod or two.  I change blades in each plane after each six strips, although it's not really necessary.  Just my habit.  They might literally stay sharp for several rods, if I could keep from banging them into the forms and knocking chips out of the blade.  (Harry Boyd)

      Are those blades carbon steel with a piece of carbide brazed to the end?  If so hi-temp silver brazed?  (Jerry Young)

        Yes, they are standard Stanley blades which have had the tips ground off, and a matching sized piece of carbide brazed on the end.  Total carbide length is about 3/8".

        I cannot tell  you "how" they were brazed on.  I simply don't know enough about the processes.  There is a distinct gold look the the brazing material, if that helps any.  (Harry Boyd)

      A couple points on the carbide inserts. It's my understanding that the heat from welding, brazing, etc. is harmless to carbide, as the hardness cannot be drawn out, as is the case with steel.  Also, the edge chips that Harry mentioned look like the result of metal fatigue to me. I think they come from vibration of the thin edge in use, and when you start to see them, it's time to regrind.  A piece of metal that is broken or torn off will show a bright surface in the break area. If you see a dull micro crystalline appearance, the culprit is most likely fatigue. Just a theory, but what are you seeing, Harry?  (Tom Smithwick)

        Since you're the one who got me started with this, I'll quickly defer to your experiences.  I really haven't had a big enough problem with chips to remember what they look like.  I think I've got one that needs regrinding though, so I'll look at it when I get home tonight and report back.

        One more thing -- the 35 degree edges seem to hold up better than shallower grinds, at least for me.  (Harry Boyd)


A while ago, Ted Knott posted an email about irons and mentioned he gets his made locally, by Alan Taylor. Well, being the courageous sort, and very weak in the area of sharpening planes, I purchased one. I got it from him in February and wanted to use it more before posting my thoughts, but I really haven't had time to work with it anymore, so...

The iron, as Ted said, holds it's edge very nicely. I hand split and roughed out 20 strips with the blade and continued using it right down to final dimensions, as it was still sailing thru cane. I wanted to start another rod to see how far I could go with it before sharpening, but I never got to it. Hopefully next week I will do that.

I've tried all the other blades out there, and I can honestly say that this one is as good as any and better than most. Alan will also grind the angle to your specifications. He's a nice fellow to deal with and makes a fine tool.  (Mike Canazon)

    Just recently met Alan this past weekend and Mike is correct in saying he is a very nice man.  His tools are fabulous, and if you are in the market for a plane  you should look at some of his work.  No financial interest.  (Robert Cristant)

      I've been using one of Alan's HSS blades for a year now, and its the blade I now use for all finish planing.  I've ordered a second one.

      While I have planed 18 strips without sharpening, my regular practice is to plane 6 strips, then touch up the edge with the scary sharp method, then buff the edge with green compound on a rotary strop.  (Ted Knott)

      I will second what Ted has said.  I also purchased one and it is great.  I would sharpen or touch up using just a powered leather strop and the lee valley compound every 4 to 6 strips when using the Hock blades.  With this one I do not have to touch up at all.  Alan's blades will allow me to finish an entire rod and the blade looks better than the Hock when I am done.   They blades hold a fabulous edge.  I really only use the blade for final finishing, when removing the last 10 thousandths, but I have roughed out an entire set of strips and not had to resharpen.  I have tried the scary sharp method the green compound and the leather strop and even water stones and they all create a very keen edge.  (Mark Babiy)


The blade in my 50 year old  Stanley 9 1/2 went kaput this morning. I'm sure it was the original iron so it was due to give up the ghost anyway. I went to the Hock site and I still can't figure which iron to order for this plane. The throat is 1 5/8" wide but measuring the gap in the middle I didn't come up with any of the measurements they had listed. I naively figured prior to going to Hocks' site that it would be you need this iron for this model, this iron for this mod. etc. etc. and as usual I was wrong. If anyone uses an old Stanley 9 1/2 and could tell me which iron I need for it I would appreciate it. Also should I get the standard Hock iron or are the cryogenic irons that much better? For a carpenters' son I don't have a whole lot of smarts concerning woodworking tools.  (Will Price)

    I went to my local Woodcraft store with plane iron in hand.  Any chance you could do that?

    I have an old Craftsman, which I believe is identical to the 9 1/2, and it uses the 1 5/8" iron with a 7/16" slot.  Is your old iron so broken that you couldn't send it to Hock and have them match it?  Just a thought.  (Neil Savage)

    For a US Stanley standard angle block plane you want the 1-5/8" x 7/16" slot. Check with Golden Witch or J.D. Wagner they carry the blades. As far as the standard or A2 Cryo I use both and like them both. It just depends if you feel the A2 is worth the added bucks. Honestly the standard is probably good enough. I have five 9 1/2's all with hock blades and a Lie-Nielsen. When I'm using the Stanley’s I don't know at the time which have the A2 and the standards. I usually plane six strips with a Stanley and shave the last few thousandths with the Lie-Nielsen. Then change to a sharp Stanley for the next six. I can usually use the Lie-Nielsen for all eighteen strips before I sharpen.  (Mark Heskett)


I have started putting a bevel on my plane iron and I have stopped gouging and chinking, but now I can't take off any significant thickness when planing.  I worked on a strip for about 2 hours last night and still didn't get it finished.  The bevel seems to keep things from getting buggered, but it has slowed my progress down to a crawl.  What am I doing wrong?  (Lee Orr)

    How wide is the throat opening on your plane?  It has to be enough to allow the shaving to pass through.  If you try to take a .010" thick shaving and the throat is only open .009", it won't work right.  I adjust the throat fairly wide for rough planing and then close it down for finish work (whether on rods or for general woodworking).  (Neil Savage)

    Another possibility is that your bevel is too steep for slicing off relatively thick shavings. With a steep blade angle, the plane acts more like a scraper & will make thin, smooth cuts without lifting nodes, but won't cut very deep.

    I have two planes - one sharpened at 35 degrees for rough planing and the other at 45 degrees for final planing. Another possibility would be to sharpen your blade without the bevel for rough planing, and then resharpen with a slight bevel for finishing.  (Tom Bowden)


I've received two irons from Ray Iles the other day, and the first impression are very, very good. They are 0.4 mm thicker than the Hock iron. Used a little more time to sharpen it and the edge was a bit sharper. After my roughing form I took the all the strips to 7' 9" 2/1 in the butt end of the form. Planed all the strips for the butt close to final taper and all the tip strips down to the form. All with the same iron! It was still a little bit life left. I got a groove in my plane so it saves some on the iron. Quite impressing!

Don't say you should toss out the Hock, but if somebody needs irons, it's worth to check them out.  I paid £ 8 each. That’s about $14. So they are a lot cheaper than the Hock blade. Ray Iles is in England so the shipping for us Europeans are favorable. £3 to Norway for two irons. Here's a link to Rays page: Old tool store. I know this sounds like a commercial, but I just wanted to tell you about it.  (Tom Simarud)


Has anybody had experience with the replacement block plane blades carried by Craftsman studio from an outfit called Academy Saws that is somewhere in Australia?

The folks at Craftsman Studio say they are better than the A2 blades provided by Hock and LN and worth the price differential.

So far all I can determine is that they are better than twice the price but I am a bit leery about a performance assessment from someone who has not planed cane with them. There is nothing in the list I can find on Academy Saw blades, but some limited stuff I found elsewhere out there in internetland indicates they have a longer lasting edge, but are harder to sharpen than A2 or O1 blades.  (Joe Hudock)

    Never heard of them.

    That's always the trade off, though, a harder iron will hold it's edge better, but will be correspondingly more difficult to resharpen.  Long ago, Stanley opted for a softer blades that are easier to resharpen.  The problem is, the high silica content of bamboo dulls those softer blades more quickly.

    A supper hard blade, like you describe, will require the use of diamond sharpening surfaces, and will be more prone to chipping (IE: it will be more brittle.)

    As the saying goes, "you pays your money and you take your chances."  (Paul Gruver)

    I have never heard of them either, but a dabble in Google yields the following -

    They are M2 HSS blades, made by a person called Paul Williams.  There is a bit about them on a couple of addresses as found by Google, but most of interest was from

    HLT Gordon
    50 Northcott Crescent
    Alstonville  NSW 2477
    Phone 016 6628 7222

    Some years ago I trialed a plane iron that was made in Sydney with a  2 cm HSS insert brazed onto the tip.

    Subjective I know, but to me it was not a great success.  I usually sharpen with a range of 6 Japanese waterstones, and I just could not effectively sharpen these blades.

    I took them off to a friend who is a toolmaker and he sharpened them for me, but while this bloke is a real perfectionist, the blades never got quite so sharp as my A2 blades, though they did appear to be pretty durable.

    In my opinion, if they had a place in rodbuilding, it would be as a roughing plane insert for the gross, non-critical stuff.  I guess that I was just not prepared to rework my whole sharpening system just to achieve a less effective edge.

    I shall see if I can get hold of a blade to check it out, if they are not the same blades I had before.  (Peter McKean)

      Its funny you mentioned saving it for roughing. I saved my new Stanley blade for just that. I find that with the soaking of strips and getting it razor sharp, it holds up enough to rough 18 soaked strips. I wouldn't use it on dry strips though. I tried it out just to see what all the hoopla was about and now I see that it does sharpen fast and easy, but it dulls rather quickly and was very evident while attempting to plane non-heat treated strips. Tempered strips would wear even faster.  (Scott Bearden)

      I don't know them but you can't make commercial claims that are untrue here in Australia without the high risk if serious hassles from the department of lies so if they say it's harder to sharpen but holds a better edge I'd think it's probably right.  (Tony Young)

    I did get some additional information through the Australian dealer direct from the manufacturer. The #2 size is a drop in replacement for a Stanley #2 and they make two different ones for a 9 1/2, one to fit Records and one to fit older Stanleys. That's better than the Hock blades for a 9 1/2, which are a compromise that fit Records better but an older Stanley can benefit from some blade surgery with a Dremel, same for Veritas blades. My preference on currently available blades is for L-Ns, but I will of course grab a Hock blade for a 9 1/2 off eBay if the price is right.  (Joe Hudock)


I want to pick up a Hock blade for my Record 9 1/2 clone. Anyone know which Hock blade fits this sucker? Also looking for a Starrett "V" gage but can't find a supplier other than you know who, any suggestions?  (Larry Puckett)

    I believe Jeff Wagner has both, no commercial yadda yadda (Henry Mitchell)

    The only difference that I can recall is how large the hole in the center is. I think the record uses the blade with the small hole. Measure the blade hole that you have and order that Hock blade from anybody.

    I may be able to check this evening on the proper hole size for the record but I am pretty sure I use the same blade for the record and my old 9 1/2 and I have to get the larger hole for the new Stanley planes.  (Gordon Koppin)

    The Hock blade for Record No. 9 1/2 and 60 1/2 and Anant No. 9 1/2 is the model 1 5/8" wide with 7/16" slot width, #BLA162 (A2 Cryo steel)/BL162 (carbon steel).

    For the "V" gauge the Golden Witch sell a model, but I am not sure if it is Starrett.  (Marco Giardina)

      Thanks for that info. Now, I already have one Hock blade that someone sold me with the plane but don't know if it is their hard steel or A2 cryo steel -- there are no markings on the blade other than the Hock logo. Is there any way to tell -- I'd kind of like to have the same type when I buy the second blade.  (Larry Puckett)

        The Hock carbon blades upper angles are round, the A2 Cryo upper angles are cut.  (Marco Giardina)

          Little Machine Shop has V Gages.  Don't know why there is so much difference in price.  (Don Schneider)

    Little Machine Shop sells two center gauges, one for $6.95 and Starrett for $18. Lie-Nielsen sells identical replacement blades for $30 and Lee Valley/Veritas sells them for $28.50 and Lee Valley also carries Hock blades for about $30. Hock sells them off their web site between $45-47. Those prices are for the A2 cryo treated blades. I can't figure out how Lee Valley sells it for less, but they do. I don't know if it is cost effective to buy them separately due to extra shipping charges, in which case I would say that Jeff Wagner would be a good bet.  (Scott Bearden)

    I got one of the A-2 Cryo blades when they first came out.  It's marked A-2 CYRO under the Hock logo, so I'd guess your blade is the hard steel blade.  (Ron Larsen)

      This is from the Hock web site:

      We've differentiated these blades to avoid mixing them with our other blades by cutting the top corners with a 45-degree chamfer instead of our usual rounded corners. And they're marked "A2 Cryo".

      Ron Hock

      Hock Tools  (Neil Savage)

      I would be interested in hearing your comparison of the 2 Hock blades if you have used them both. I have used the Hock steel blade and the a2 Lie-Nielsen and find them different but one not necessarily better. What's your take?  (Timothy Troester)

        I have two Record blades which probably compare to the Hock steel blades although thinner.  The Hock A-2 CYRO stays sharper longer and doesn't get as dull as the Records, so it takes less time to bring the Hock back to a level I like. I use shaving as a standard, when the Hock won't shave my arm I resharpen.  I reserve the Hock for final planing.

        Incidentally, I have two LN blades for my scraper & I did some playing around to see how well they held an edge.  I'd rate them slightly harder then the Records.  (Ron Larsen)

          It may be just me but I find that my blades get dull only in the center +_ 1/2 in.  I have to use heavy duty 100 grit to flatten the blade all the way across. After doing this I find completing the blade sharpening goes very fast just using sandpaper, finishing it off with 2000 grit. If I don't do the heavy grit first it seems to take forever.

          I have not heard anyone mention where and how the blade gets dull, I use a black marker on the blade after it's sharp and look at it before I start to reshaping. So when I check the sharpness I always do it in the middle of the blade. You can get fooled if use any other part.  (Bob Norwood)

            If you use a grooved sole plane, you can relieve the edge of the blade and cut your sharpening time by 2/3.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

            Stetzer, Frank Recess

              I agree that’s the way to go.  (Gary Nicholson)

                I agree, the center portion gets dull quicker.  I use a grooved plane, so I seldom get to the outsides of the blades.  I use a bright light to look at the back of the blade & I know that when I get rid of the shiny area on the back, the blade is sharp.  You need to use a combination of sharpening the bevel and flattening the back.  (Ron Larsen)


All of this talk about sharpening  has got me wanting another plane.  Currently I only have one, Stanley 9 1/2 which I have put a Hock iron in.  I am thinking of getting the Lie-Nielsen with rodmakers groove to use for final planing.  If I order the LN, do I need another Hock iron or does the LN come with an adequate iron.  I like the thought of using multiple planes and sharpening all of the irons before I start.  (Greg Reeves)

    Think you’ll find the L-N AND the Veritas have very nice metal in them.  I use two Hocks and a Veritas, and honestly can’t tell you there’s any difference in how often I sharpen.  (Steve Yasgur)

      As far as that goes, I have 2 Hocks and an older (ca. 1955) Craftsman and I don't notice any difference in the way they hold an edge.  (Neil Savage)

    The LN is very good (A2) steel.  You do not need a replacement blade.  (Tyler Beard)

      Think twice before committing to the rodmakers groove if you haven’t already.  (Brian Morrow)

        Since I've always found that planing at an angle to the form is better I've never understood the point of a groove.  (Robin Haywood)

          I don't know whether it's "right", but I've always been taught to plane wood that way, and it's now very uncomfortable for me to plane straight.  60 years of habit and all that...  (Neil Savage)

          Even if you decide not to have the grove, Thomas will put the groove in the plane at a later date for 25.00.  (Doug Hall)

          I use grooved planes to protect my forms, in my first three planes (I use 4 planes).

          Then, like you, I plane down to the form with the last one, before using Tony S' razor blade scraper.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

          I personally think that the Lie-Nielsen blade is very good, I really do like the groove, and I ground the edges of the blade so that the part I am sharpening is just as wide as the groove. This makes sharpening much easier and the blade never touches the forms to gouge them. I have a 9 1/2 to do the 'rough'  planing then  I go  to the  grooved Lie-Nielsen to get down to about .003 over then I use the Lie-Nielsen scraper to finish up.  (Joe Arguello)

            Do you have the groove in the scraper?  (Tyler Beard)

              No I don't have a groove in the scraper. When you get the strips down that close it just takes a couple of passes with the scraper and you feel it kinda sliding/scraping the forms. That is when you are done. I know it sounds kinda funny but it really works great. I don't know if you have seen my tutorial on sharpening the scraper blade, but here it is again and pay close attention to how to set the blade depth.  (Joe Arguello)

      For those of you who final plane with no groove, doesn't  that chowda your forms?  (Wayne Caron)

        Not really.  I have a few digs on mine, but they are not major.  You can always tune them up with a file or some sandpaper if it bothers you.  I consider mine battle wounds, scars that remind me to keep the plane level and save the scotch for the toast when its all done!  (Brian Morrow)

          Tuning them up planing forms with files and sandpaper causes variances that can later affect your taper, unless of course you grind the entire length of the planing form dead flat.  The groove in the plane is .003 and is very slight. I have used it and love it! I wouldn't final plane without it. The very second your blade hits your planing form you have dulled the edge. Furthermore, the thickness of the tape that most people apply would be greater than .003. If you set your planing forms for .003 under dimensions and plane all the way down the groove prevents the plane from removing any more material, which tells you  when you are done. If you were to do that with a standard plane, you would have to take a full length shaving of steel to achieve the same precision. I use the scraper with the groove as well and what I do is set the depth on the planing form to normal dimensions and then when the grooved plane won't take any more material off I close the forms .003 and use the scraper. Neither the plane nor the scraper blade ever touch the forms. When I am done planing I generally only need to polish the edge each time.

          Plus if you order it like that from Lie-Nielsen, you can always lap it flat if you don't like it.  (Scott Bearden)

        Not if your blades are sharp enough and you're only using the weight of the plane itself to plane the strips.  Sharpness is the key. (Mark Wendt)

        By the time I'm down to final planing, I'm only exposing the blade by .001 to .003". Before that I'm exposing a lot more blade to catch the form.  You should see my forms, they look like they went through a war.  I've actually had to stop and sand an edge that got turned up, before finishing.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

        I have no problem.  (Tony Spezio)

          I never have used a grove, however I have used a 9 1/2 Stanley to smooth and flatten  my bar stock for a new form. Used one blade to smooth three sides. I did use sandpaper to finish but most all the actual work was done using the plane and yes I did have a difficult time getting the sole back in shape afterwards. Still it only took one day with the plane.  (Bob Norwood)

        I wasn't going to get into this, but felt like someone ought to stand up for planing without grooves.  I tried the grooved plane for a dozen rods or so, but never could get my strips to come out to consistent sizes.  With some practice and some care, learning to plane without the groove is possible for most folks.

        I plane all the way down to the metal, from one end of the strip to the other.  How I go about it is touched upon in the latest article in my blog.  Someone mentioned that touching up your forms isn't usually a good idea.  I agree, as the article states in detail.

        This craft requires some practice and some attention to detail.  Learning to plane well seems to me to be more a function of practice and attention to detail than whether or not your plane has a groove in it.  (Harry Boyd)

          Thanks to everyone who gave input on planing with or without a groove.  I have wanted to try a grooved plane but, now I an going to use my favorite plane with some tape.  Once I get to the final few passes I think I will just pull off the tape and finish her up.  Always wondered about the strip pulling up the the sole of the plane.  You guys confirmed my thoughts.  (Pete Emmel)

            It does not matter whether the groove is on the form(created by tape) or on the plane, the physics of the strip lifting still apply, right?  (Shane Pinkston)

              Lee Valley/Veritas has a modification to their MKII honing guide that allows rocking the blade side to side to remove sharp corners. Has anyone tried sharpening the plane that way? It seems to me that the corner digs are what damages the forms the most.  (Henry Mitchell)

                I always get fine metal shavings when I am planing to the final dimension don't b believe that it harms the form  and it does not dull the blade all that much.  Still it is easy to sharpen.  I plane at an angle.  The bamboo id sliced that way instead of gouged.  (Ralph Moon)

                I just drag the corners of the newly sharpened blade down the length of the sharpening stone. One swipe gets rid of a sharp corner. This eliminates about 90% of the corner digs for me, the plane either skids or stops really quick when a blade corner hits the forms. I'm using sugar maple forms so results with metal forms should be better.  (Joe Hudock)

    I've been using my old tuned up, 1930's Stanley Sweetheart 9 1/2 for all my planing.   I bought three Hock replacement irons to fit it.  Before I begin planing on a rod, I sharpen all three irons.  Then, as the planing progresses & the iron gets dull, I replace it with a sharp one.  This continues until all irons are dull and then all are subsequently resharpened.

    Also, care must be taken when planing with a grooved plane, particularly as you get close to the surface of the planing form.  The grooved plane can occasionally lift the strip right out of the form & cause the strip to be planed undersized.  Don't ask how I know this.....  (Paul Julius)

      I have never experienced a strip lifting. As I get closer to final dimensions I close the throat and withdraw the blade until I am only taking .0005 shavings. Furthermore, your blade needs to be its sharpest at the end of planing when it is most critical. It is nearly impossible to lift a strip when you take off a minimal amount with each pass with a freshly sharpened iron. The same should be done with standard planes without a groove as well.  (Scott Bearden)

        I've listed the source for a kapton tape that is .0025 on several occasions. No muss, no fuss, no groove. Planing at an angle is no problem, it reduces friction between the forms and the sole, and unlike a groove, it can be easily removed if it isn't your particular cup of tea. If you fall in love with the concept, it doesn't even preclude ordering a grooved plane. I would never, ever try to talk anyone of out a new toyl. Don't tell anyone, but it works on scrapers too.  (Larry Blan)

        I am pretty new to rod building but have about 30 years of wood  butchering  under  my belt  and owned  both the L&N  9-1/2 and the scraper long before I thought about bamboo.   I have put in a lot of hours planing all kinds of wood.

        Conceptually, I just don't see how a grooved plane could do anything but produce undersized strips.   In order for a plane to work, it must register the material being cut against the sole and the sole holds the material down.  It seems that with a grooved sole, everything works as it should until that moment when the main body of the plane contacts the form and prevents the sole in the groove from doing its job. At this point you can make one and only one final pass.  The main sole resting on the form, and the strip protruding .003 above the form and in contact with the sole in the groove.  Perfection.  The problem as I see it is that it never works out in practice.  We can never get the strip down to final dimension uniformly over the full length.  In some places, the strip will be higher than .003 and the iron will take its cut as it should but if the stroke continues into an area of the strip where it has already been cut down to final thickness, the iron already bedded in the cut will then lift the strip until it registers against the sole. 

        Result.  Thin strip.

        Now keep in mind that I have never used one.  This is just my thinking.  (Rick Hodges)

          Try the tape that Larry suggests, close the throat, retract the freshly sharpened blade and be prepared to be amazed. If you try to take too deep of a cut then sure you would lift, but the same can happen with non-grooved soles as well.  (Scott Bearden)

            It's kinda like when they say "you had to be there."  You have to try it!  Many things in this insane world of rod building don't make a whole lot of sense,  hence the MOJO!  (Joe Arguello)

          I've made over 40 rods with my LN grooved sole plane and never once had that problem. If I am diligent about getting the nodes straight and keeping them straight throughout the planing process(they do change as you take material off) then I wind up with strips with very clean edges that are the dimensions I want them to be and I don't have to spend my life sharpening  blades. Right now I am in the process of planing the last 3 strips of the second 2 piece 2 tip rod since the last time I sharpened the blade. Granted, I mill my strips to around .050 or so over size first, but that is still quite a bit of planing on one sharpening. i have one of the older versions with the groove .005 deep, I adjust the blade down until I am just barely taking steel so I can make sure that the blade is square and taking the same amount from both sides then I back it up until it is just out of contact with the form, I set my forms .002 under the dimension for each station and my strips measure the desired number more consistently then when I used a plane with no groove. I think this must be one of those things that works better in practice than logic would dictate.   (John Channer)

            Well, I have more than once run into things that shouldn't work in theory but do so in practice.  Flying bumblebees come to mind.

            Considering all the comments,  and being a newbie who really doesn't know what he is doing yet, I am going to have to give the groove a try.  Now if I could just find some of that tape.  A quick google turned up only 36 yard rolls for more $ than I care to invest in a quick experiment.  (Rick Hodges)

              I have a friend who simply used masking tape on the edges of his plane to see if he liked it! You have to change it a couple of times but you will get the idea whether you like the groove or not! Seems that he also tried it with some aluminum tape used for sealing furnace flues also. You can get aluminum tape at ACE Hardware.  (Joe Arguello)

              Good example, the bumblebee. it’s because the theorists didn't do the research and were thus hypothesists.  The wings have a sort of spring return so they can move twice for every muscle contraction.  (Robin Haywood)

              Try Woodcraft supply has 3/4" UHMW tape their catalog item 16L64 for $7.25USD, I've used this product and it works well.  (Doug Losey)

                It may work, I put some on the bottom of one of my planes but haven't tried it yet.  Biggest problem I see is, it's .0010" thick where the Kapton is .0025".  (Neil Savage)

              I got 63000 hits on "kapton tape".  Some are only a few $,  but shipping will triple the cost.   (Neil Savage)

          Your assessment is exactly the same as mine and exactly as I have found in practice.  If you run the grooved plane over a strip that has already reached dimension it will tend to lift and undersized strips are produced particularly at the fine tip end.

          That said I still use a grooved plane.  It works best for me when removing 20 thousandths or so down to around 5 thousandths.  Above that a normal plane can be kept clear of the form and set to take whatever desired thickness works best, below that a normal plane set for a very fine cut and worked right down to the form works without taking great chunks out of the steel, just very fine shavings.

          Everyone has different experiences, the most important thing is to experiment and find what works for you.  A groove formed from simple masking tape is an easy start, if you like it Frank Neunemann’s site gives instruction on how to form a groove.  (Gary Marshall)

            It seems to me, and sitting down and drawing the schematic seems to uphold what I say, that if the strip fits tight against the floor of the 3 thousandths groove, then there is no more place for it to lift to than there is in the situation where the strip fits up tight against the bottom of the non-grooved plane.

            I built about 80 or so rods before I got a grooved plane, and certainly I agree that with taking the care to develop the skill you can finish the rod off accurately and not abrade the surface of the forms too badly.  I used tie my brain into reef knots trying to visualize the geometry involved in the grooved sole, but finally drew the diagrams that convinced me to try one, thinking that if it was a disaster I could just have it surface-ground flat.

            I got a Lie-Nielsen high angle with a 3 thousandths groove and I love it.  While I don't think I gouged my forms much before, now I don't touch them at all. The forms stay better and the blades stay sharper.

            All that I do need to do is allow for the groove when setting the forms; and I also meticulously check the first strip to come off after the forms are set to be sure all is according to Hoyle.  After that it's all downhill.

            Incidentally, has anybody any comment on the lateral setting screws on the Veritas plane.  I think they really look like the juicy agates, and seem to give lateral support and directional stability to the blade.  Now, I still think that the Lie-Nielsen is a better plane, but am thinking of drilling and tapping a couple of my L-N's and installing the setting screws to them; especially as the one area where I think Tom's planes are a bit behind the Veritas' design is in the matter of lateral adjustment.  Like, none!  (Peter McKean)

              I just give the back edge of the blade a tap with the foxtail brush I keep on the bench, but adjusting screws would save the brush some minor dents.  (John Channer)

              I understand what you are saying and I have also finished several rods using only the grooved plane.  I could never understand why anyone would think it desirable to remove metal from the forms whilst planing.

              Nevertheless I have had experience of making undersized strips using the grooved tool and it has always happened in an area (usually the tip) that finishes before the rest of the strip and gets overplaned.

              What I think is happening and Rick explained it well I think is that whilst you are using either plane the pressure of the sole, or groove base, on the strip keeps it in the forms and the blade setting dictates the cut that is removed.  When the sole contacts the form with a grooved plane the strip is finished at the blade clearance above the form, close to the sole but not quite level with it.  But what happens if the strip needs a 1 thousandth cut for a perfect finish dimension but the plane is set to cut 3 thousandths?  I think that what happens is the plane starts to cut and the base of the plane reaches the forms but the blade continues to pull the strip up tight against the base of the groove and takes its full 3 thousandths cut, how can it do otherwise? The result is an underside strip.

              When a flat sole plane is used the blade touches the form and shaves off high points then you stop.  If you continue to plane it is theoretically possible for slight overplaning to occur but much less likely as the cut is set so fine and the leading part of the sole holds the strip down level with the forms where the cut is taking place.

              My view for what it is worth.  I often use mine down vey close to finished dimension these days but make sure it is always with pressure on the strip. My final pass plane is set at less than one thou and it that does not get the job done a I use a scraper.

              If you are not getting a problem then your technique is obviously working well and long may that continue, I am certainly not advocating change just sharing my own experience.

              As far as form damage goes, with me it is not the final pass plane that is the problem but careless use of a coarsely set plane in the early stages, the nasty digs have to be removed or the raised burr they create impedes finishing.  (Gary Marshall)

                This is what happens to me too.  I find that holding the plane on an angle to the form reduces the problem though.  (Neil Savage)

              Love my Veritas, not only for lateral adjustment, but for the minimal backlash in depth setting!  (Steve Yasgur)

              There is more slop in the fit of the LV blade into the LV plane compared to the LN blade and plane combination. Also the tapered sides of the LV blade don't help in visually aligning the blade in place. But with the set screws and the design of the blade adjuster in the LV plane it is easier for me to get the blade aligned than on the LN, where it takes me some fussing and a few taps back and forth with a brass hammer. Unfortunately, this LV alignment feature works much better on their low angle version than on their standard angle block plane which has a much less robust design.

              Adding set screws to an LN would be a bit of a chore I would think. At least it would be for me. I can drill holes plenty fast, but getting them accurately placed would be a challenge for just a one-off job. But a lateral adjuster on the LN block planes would be nice.  (Joe Hudock)


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