Do Not, Do Not, Do Not replace your old Stanley Irons. In case you missed it, Do Not replace your old Stanley Hand Plane Irons. It’s become an automatic assumption that you have to switch out those old feeble irons and put in a new, thick, cryogenically treated, advanced powdered steel, walks on water, slices dices and juliennes blade. The old blades work, Especially if you don’t grind them off. Take the old blade, hone the edge and get to work. The only exception might be if you’re working in all hardwoods and exotics all the time. Then maybe get a new blade for your smoother.
For most of your milling and basic smoothing needs that old Stanley blade is just fine. I use a No. 605 jack and an old No. 8 with the original blade. These two planes do most of my milling, and wood prep. I might even use the Jack for smoothing. It’ll put a glass smooth finish on a piece of poplar.
Here’s the deal. The work hardened edge, that is the steel at the end of the blade before you grind it off, is harder and stronger than the rest of the blade. Every push of the plane flexes the end of the blade and with each bend it gets just a little bit harder. You’ll find that with an old blade that wasn’t ground, you’ll get a consistently sharp edge that holds up for a long time. You’ll also find that it gets sharp more quickly than the newer blades because you aren’t taking off so much hard steel.
Don’t spend the extra money or wait until you can get a new one ordered. Take out that old blade, hone it up, put it back in and get to work. Stuff gotta get made.
-- James, Tulsa OK,