One of the best things about getting older has been the fact that I can now do more woodworking tasks “by feel” than “by eye.” As my already-crappy eyesight has become dulled by middle age, I’ve found that my other senses – particularly my sense of touch – have become heightened. I cannot always see … Read more
Though dragging your plane backward on the return stroke can make your iron dull faster, not all the old books agree that you should avoid the practice. In fact, many of my books are silent on the issue. “Spons’ Mechanics’ Own Book,” a massive tome on woodworking and other trades, has nothing (at least that … Read more
I’m the first to admit that I have some bad habits. I drink beer. I occasionally curse. And I sometimes drag my planes back across my work on the return stroke. When you receive traditional training, dragging a plane back across your work will get your knuckles rapped by the shop nun. That’s because when … Read more
The most embarrassing jig I’ve ever owned has been photographed, measured and pondered more than any single piece of fine furniture I’ve built. It’s a stupid little block of wood with stops on it for many common sharpening angles I use with my side-clamp honing guide – sometimes called the “Eclipse” guide because that was … Read more
When I was taught to sharpen in 1992, the flat back of the iron was holy ground. We were taught to flatten it completely and polish it like a mirror. Never mind that none of the old tools we were buying at flea markets looked like that. With the old tools, there was rarely much … Read more
Canadian company creates a steel combining the best of the old and new.
By Christoper Schwarz
I’ve long been suspicious of the so-called “super steels” that promise long edge life between sharpenings. That has always meant that you have to spend a long time sharpening the tool on your stones or – even worse – you have to buy fancy equipment to even get a serviceable edge.
Plus, no new steel I’ve tried has ever had the feel of old-fashioned high-carbon steel. Until now.
Veritas is using a powdered steel (a closely guarded formula) that seems to defy many of the normal laws of high-carbon and alloy steels. Powdered metal is nothing new in woodworking. During the last decade, I’ve tried out several plane irons and chisels that were made using the sintering process.
In a nutshell, powdered metals are where you take your raw materials, combine them in liquid form and then atomize them to form a powder. The powder is sifted through a screen for consistency, put into a mould and then heated to form a solid billet. This sintering process allows you to make materials with remarkable consistency that can have properties that would be impossible to make by smelting.
This week I’ve been surfacing a lot of wood by hand, from pedestrian sugar pine to funky metals that have wood-like properties (e.g. purpleheart). And all the while I have been testing, testing, testing things with my chipbreakers and the cutting angle of the iron of my handplane. Huh? You might say. Yes, there might … Read more