Chris Schwarz's Blog

Highly Recommended: Veritas Replacement Irons and Cap Irons

I’ve been meaning to write up a review on Veritas replacement blades and cap irons for months, but every time I sat down to do it I realized that I didn’t have the tooling here at work for photography – it was at home and getting the snot used out of it.

Veritas has done a huge favor for woodworkers who use vintage Stanley or Record planes. The Canadian company has started selling replacement irons paired with a perfectly matched cap iron (also called a chipbreaker) for an amazing price.

A 2″ iron (either A2 or O1) with a cap iron is just $55. That is considerably less than you will find for a set from other makers, at least at this nanosecond.

(If you have been following the replacement iron business, then you know there is a bit of a price war going on among some – but not all – of the makers. I don’t know how long it will last, but woodworkers are the winners here. So order soon.)

I bought a 2″ O1 set from Lee Valley and have had the set on my No. 5 Bailey while I built my tool chest. I could not be more thrilled (and I am not easily thrilled).

Some details:

1. Veritas laps the backs of its blades. This means they are dead-nuts flat from the wrapper. You don’t need to polish the backs. They come already done. Only Bridge City and Veritas does this nice extra step for you, which gives you back 30 minutes to two hours of your life.

2. The blades are thin. The are thicker than stock Stanley blades, but not so thick that you have to file open the mouth of your tool or do other metalwork on the guts of your planes. Veritas found a nice middle ground.

3. The breakers are great. Unlike stock Stanley and Record breakers, which are as effective as a Pringle’s potato crisp, these breakers are machined steel with a small lip at the tip. They fit perfectly out of the box. Other makers do this to their breakers as well.

4. through 6. The price, the price, the price.

I’m a big fan of Veritas’s O1 blades. They polish up nice and quick and hold an edge for a good long time. This is a no-reservations recommendation – these are fantastic. End of story. Buy them here.

— Christopher Schwarz


16 thoughts on “Highly Recommended: Veritas Replacement Irons and Cap Irons

  1. VAWoodworker

    I have no doubts that LV’s irons and cap irons are excellent quality. Everything that I have seen or bought through LV has been. However, I am puzzled by this:

    “2. The blades are thin. The are thicker than stock Stanley blades, but not so thick that you have to file open the mouth of your tool or do other metalwork on the guts of your planes. Veritas found a nice middle ground.”

    How about some actual measurements. How does the thickness of the Veritas iron compare to the thickness of the Hock and LN irons? I thought all three used 3/32″ thick replacement irons vs. the 1/8″ thick (or I should say, “thin”) OEM Stanley. Is the Veritas thicker or thinner than the Hock or LN replacement irons?

  2. Tico Vogt

    Hi Chris,

    On a Record Jointer Plane I’m missing the dome head screw that holds the lever cap down. It would be good to get one before upgrading the blade/breaker! Any sources on those screws or should I just be a “fitter” and go to the hardware store?

    Thanks,

    Tico

  3. Mitchell

    One of the impressive things about Chris Schwarz is his fairness when it comes to recommending what vendors, instructors and suppliers have to offer. It appears that politics and personal relationships aren’t involved. It is as impressive as it is rare.

    Lee Valley Tools is a small Canadian family company that we Canadian woodworkers are very proud of. We think of Lee Valley in the same way American woodworkers think of Lie-Nielsen. It is impressive when we get to read an article that gives this progressive company a fair shake.

  4. JimM

    I recently purchased replacement plane iorn and cap iron form Ron Hock. He is still the only replacement plane iorn maker that makes the odd sizes for old Baily and Bedrock Planes. I needed 2 1/4″ irons instead of 2 3/8″ iron common in newer planes.

  5. dfdye

    Chris, you specifically mentioned the O1 blades which makes me a little curious as to why you didn’t include the A2 in your glowing recommendation. Am I just reading too much into this?

      1. dfdye

        Fair enough! Looks like I’ll have to try one out since they are definitely a decent bit cheaper than the other alternatives for replacing the blades in my old Stanleys. I’m partial to A2 myself, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. Thanks for the follow up.

      2. Bear

        I’ve found that the A2 steel is great, but it is difficult to sharpen, but then A2 stays sharp longer. I recently bought a replacement blade and chip breaker from Hock for my record #4 and I invoked the inch-and-a-half rule. If the blade is wider than an inch-and-a-half buy O1; narrower than that A2.

  6. John Jesseph

    I agree, with one reservation. I bought a cap iron and iron for my #3 Stanley, and they are the cat’s pajamas- the iron took very little time to prepare. The one thing is that the useable blade below the keyhole is only 1.5 inches, compared to a Lie-Nielsen #3 iron that has 2.25 inches of iron below the slot. It may take a while to use up that much blade anyway, but I can’t see why they made the slot go down that far. Otherwise, I totally agree. I put a cap iron on my #2 LN 2000 also, and it is the bee’s knees.

      1. John Jesseph

        Maybe, maybe not. I don’t hold back on grinding, and O1 is not really tough. I just don’t understand why not make best use of the material.

        My heirs or the people who get my stuff will be having a tough enough time getting the proper blades and cap irons back where they belong, with as much swapping out as I do.

    1. cbf123

      I asked Lee Valley about this…here’s their reply:

      “The replacement blades are made with the same slot as used on the Veritas(r) planes. The Veritas(r) blade slot extends down further to allow access to the frog locking screw without having to remove the blade. The replacement blades are made off the same blanking tool, and in turn, had to have the same slot.”

      So…part of the reason they could offer it at the price they have is that they reused their existing tooling, which is why the slot is longer.

  7. B Jackson

    One other thing to note: For some reason, I find navigating the LeeValley / Veritas website so much easier to navigate for parts I need for making my own shoulder, shooting, scraping, and rabbet planes. Not inconsiderable since I have had to use (red) oak for the plane bodies. It’s almost impossible to score hickory for a reasonable price in the Fort Myers area. These parts include, brass fittings, countersink washers, hanger bolts, etc. As well as the plane blade I ordered to make my miter shooting plane. All of the planes I bought on e-bay a few years back turned out to be out of square for shooting miters, which is why I’m finally breaking down to making my own. Don’t worry – it’s been a learning process.

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