Boat Building Forum

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

Malcolm,

I have a Hock iron in my old Stanley #4 benchplane that I use with the original chipbreaker. This iron definitely improves the performance of this plane over the original Stanley iron. The Hock iron is thicker, stiffer, and holds an edge better than the Stanley irons. I am convinced that Hock, Lee Valley/Veritas, and Lie Nielson are producing irons and planes that are worth their high prices. Everyone on the Woodnet Forum in the hand tool section will vouch for the quality of Hock irons. BTW shop around on the net and you can find good deals on Hock irons.

I have several of the lower priced block planes and a small Lie Nielson low angle block plane (like Nick Schade uses), which does not have an adjustable mouth. The LN plane may be expensive at about $95, but it is the best plane that I have bar none. Well worth the initial cost to me. Having tried some of the high end ($$$) bench planes at wood working shows I can tell you that they are a joy to behold.

Now getting back to your problem of figured woods and difficult grains, the LA block plane may work for you, but it may not be the correct solution. Many woodworkers use either scraper planes, flat steel scrapers, or high angle (see York pitch) bench planes to work figured hardwoods. While other people achieve good results using the relatively new low angle bench planes from LN and LV. For myself, I have found that when I encounter figured woods, with reversing grain, I try to plane as much of the face as I can with a bench plane and then fix the really difficult areas with a flat steel scraper. It helps to set your bench plane so that it is taking off only a very thin wispy shaving. Look for the LN video on Youtube that shows how to properly set the iron in a bench plane. The demonstrator is making very fine adjusts to the iron only turning the adjustment knob a small fraction of a single revolution between each test pass to produce very fine shavings.

Good Luck!

Greg N.