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Re: Tools: Hock Blades, planes, choices, money...

: Hello all,

: Has anyone here tried Hock blades? I just read his book- over 200
: pages about blades and sharpening. Certainly the guy knows his
: stuff. I think I'll give his blades a try. I am just wondering,
: however, is it worth spending nearly $80 on a blade and chipper
: for my existing plane, or should I just put it towards a more
: expensive plane altogether.

I expect you might do both :) and enjoy both.

: Also anyone try a Groz brand bench plane? I recently had the
: pleasure of visiting a Woodcraft store and got to check them out
: in person and was surprised that they seem to be very good
: quality, especially for the price. I just can't get over the
: "there must be a catch" feeling at this price:


: What prompted this post was the visit to Woodcraft. I tried their
: Wood River plane... well... I mean I held it in my hand. Oh what
: a joy. It was beautiful. Like a work of glistening metal art.

Next time bring along a piece of wood and actually try the thing. The set of two for $14 planes from Harbor Freight look pretty nice, too. Once I find where I put them I may even open the package and try them. I don't have great expectations, so if they are modestly useful I'll be very happy.

: I
: hope the drool didin't cause it to rust. LOL I can get that
: plane for $107.

: What kind of blade comes with it? Would you pay $107 for a plane and then replace the original iron for an additional $80? If the original iron is deemed as good as a Hock, then can you buy just the blade as a replacement part? Will it perhaps fit one of your other planes?

I originally intended to get a Hock blade for my
: old Stanley and/or my HD special, but I decided to give it some
: thought.

: My plane doesn't adjust far enough up to close the gap
: very tight and the chipper is crap.

I'm not convinced that the gap needs to be small for a plane to work well. There are plenty of bullnose planes and chisel planes which have the blade right at the front. No gap at all. (or an infinite gap, depending on your perspective) I think it depends on the work the plane is doing. It may be futile to try to get a low-angle plane, or a bench plane to do the work of a long-base jointer plane. If the current plane is OK for rapid stock removal, use it for that, and get a different plane for finer finish work.

Have you tried putting some brass shim stock (available at hobby stores and auto repair stores) behind the blade to push it further forward? I'm not sure how a chipper can wear out, or go bad, so I guess it had a bad design or was just the wrong size or shape. If a different shaped chipper works better, buy it. That gives you a workable plane for the price of a part, and it will last another generation or two.

Blades or irons: What you are buying is a piece of steel with an edge ground on it. The metallurgy of the steel determines how long it will hold an edge, and how hard it is to sharpen. The maker puts a rough taper on one end, gives it an initial sharpening and ships it out. Given the same type of tool steel, a half dozen companies could produce nearly identical plane irons. And anyone can screw them up by dropping them on concrete, or doing a sloppy sharpening job. To my way of thinking, the brand name on the iron is not a big deal. It may be a good certification that the steel used is a certain grade, but unless they have some proprietary method of treating the steel, many other people are selling the same thing. Everybody seems to have their own line of replacement plane irons. I'd look for a good brand at a great price. Check Lee Valley, Stanley parts, Sear parts, Rockler, Grizzly, and so on.

You may even be able to find a local heat-treating, or cryo-treating shop near you which can custom make a half dozen blades for you. Tell them what you need and maybe they'll throw in some small items alongside a bigger job, just as tests.

Or, go cheap and use a plane with a junky steel blade, and just sharpen it daily, or weekly. Cedar is soft wood, so the hardest steel isn't really necessary. I have files and a bench grinder. If I should want an iron with a different bevel, I can create that myself in a few minutes. If it needs to be sharpened, or honed, that is even quicker.

There are a lot of brands. You may have already sold yourself on Hock, but spend a few more minutes checking around before you send out an order. Stanley may still be making the same model plane, but have a new-technology iron on their current production. Modern eplacement parts direct from a manufacurer would probably be better than the old stuff, and elatively inexpensive. Or, call or e-mail them and see if they've found a particular replacement which surpasses their production part, but is too expensive for them to market.

All that said, the best way I know to improve a cheap plane is to put in a good iron and tune it up.

: The Stanley plane is my
: grandfather's old plane and needs a good bit of restoration.

Sounds like a nice indoor, cold-weather, winter project. You have almost 3 months to spring. OH, wait! You have a warm and mild winter! Well, just cuz I like ya, I'll be happy to do a house swap and trade my comfortable, frozen abode for your uselessly warm weather for those three months. It will give you plenty of quality snowbound indoor-time to work on those restoration projects. And you could learn to ice fish. Just send me a plane ticket, and I'll mail ya the keys.

: just bought a nice old Stanley at an antique store that I was
: just going to get a Hock blade for, but oh that Wood River
: plane... the feel... the crispness... what to do?

Hand tool philosophy: A plane is not much different than a hammer in one way: they are both just castings with handles, and a few extra parts. You can get cheap hammers and expensive ones. Same with planes. Some people prefer to buy the least expensive tool. Some buy the least expensive which will do the job they are doing now Some buy a tool which is good for today's job, and has features they may use in the future. Some buy tools for longevity or durability, or ease or repair. There are tools offered at many prices which meet the expectations and philosophies of the various buyers. Unless you buy a completely wrong tool for the job (like driving nails with a Vice-Grip pliers--possible but messy) there is really no "wrong" tool purchase fi what you buy does the job and makes you happy.

Now a question about Your tool philosophy: Did you buy that old plane to keep on the shelf for decoration, or did you think of restoring it for regular use? Your answer to this will determine whether you buy an expensive new iron for this plane, and try it out before buying more of the same for your other planes, or not.

And a reminder: If you'd be happy shoveling snow off my sidewalk, the house swap offer is open any winter.

Has anyone mentioned to you that you can get into making your own planes? Make them with whatever feel and crispnes you wish. Rounded-bottom planes are hard to find, but just think of how nicely they could smooth the curved shapes on surfboards and boats.

Good luck with your planes.