LumberJocks

IBC Pinnacle A2 Cryo #4 (2") Plane Blade

  • Advertise with us
Review by dfdye posted 03-09-2010 09:19 AM 8638 views 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
IBC Pinnacle A2 Cryo #4 (2") Plane Blade IBC Pinnacle A2 Cryo #4 (2") Plane Blade IBC Pinnacle A2 Cryo #4 (2") Plane Blade Click the pictures to enlarge them

After having the blade in my new #4 Footprint wear down more quickly than I would have liked, I figured I should get a good blade to try and extend my time working with wood rather than sharpening gizmos. There has been some discussion in the forum and in other reviews of the Pinnacle line of blades from Woodcraft, so I figured I would give one a try.

Long story short, the Pinnacle blade is fantastic. The thickness difference between this blade and a stock cheap blade is huge, which required me backing the frog of my plane a good bit to allow throat clearance. Since it is so thick, the Pinnacle blade needs for the frog to be coplanar with the rear angled portion of the throat opening in my plane, so there is effectively no gap between the sole of the plane and the blade. This had the side benefit of effectively eliminating the chatter I had noticed before when the stock blade lost its fresh honing.

The steel in the Pinnacle is very hard, as advertised, but it is NOT super sharp out of the box as claimed by Woodcraft. It was pretty good, but it really did need a good honing. The initial grind is good, and is set at 30 degrees. I set my honing guide at my 30 degree guide mark (a utility knife line in my bench so that I stay consistent with all of my tools), and there was barely any difference between the angle of the factory bevel and my primary bevel. That being said, I barely got through “grinding” half of the width of the blade when I threw in the towel and called it “good enough.” This steel is REALLY hard, and I don’t see any point in grinding any more than this! For the primary bevel I went down to 5 micron sandpaper, and then established a 35 degree micro-bevel that was taken down to 0.5 micron (which you can see in the second picture). I put a very slight back bevel on the blade and took that to 0.5 micron as well. After honing, the blade easily shaved hairs off the back of my hand.

When I put the Pinnacle blade to wood (after adjusting the depth and alignment of the blade in my plane, of course), I was making fantastic shavings immediately. I got some neat, tightly rolled pine shavings that were not super thin, but were amazingly consistent throughout the entire cut (pictured). This was better in terms of cut consistency than I ever got with the stock blade. I was able to get super thin cuts with a little more adjustment, though I didn’t think to pull out calipers and measure the thickness. You could easily see through them, and they looked close to the 0.001-2 shavings I got with the freshly honed factory blade.

I am in the process of beating the stew out of the blade, but it hasn’t showed any signs of dulling at all, which is pretty amazing to me. I am very happy with the life of the edge so far, and look forward to spending more time using my plane and less time sharpening blades.

The only down side I can think of for this blade is that I paid more for the blade than I did for the plane I put it in C’est la vie!

Edited 4/8/2010:

As a follow up, I was going to get an A2 Hock for comparison in my #7 Stanley that I just finished restoring, but Woodcraft goofed up an didn’t get my order into the local store. Rather than spending money on shipping, I just got another IBC A2 blade they had in stock.

I know that a sample size of 2 isn’t really statistically significant, but I can say that all of my experiences with the 2” #4 blade were repeated with the wider #7 blade. Again, though they are advertised being able to shave out of the box, they are not nearly as sharp as I would like, but I figured I would test how sharp they were and just slap the blade in my plane and try it out. It did perform “OK” on pine 2×4’s that I tested it on, but it was clear that the blade was not nearly what I would consider freshly sharpened. The preparation at the factory does have a very clear benefit—the blade and back are pretty close to acceptable, so it hardly takes any time to hone the edge into good shape.

As a disclaimer, these are the only A2 blades I have owned, so I can’t really give a brand vs. brand comparison, just that the hard steel keeps its edge a very long time vs. the normal steel blades I have used in other planes. I am sold on these blades and would like to get a replacement for my Bailey block plane, and I am not really sure whether I will even consider going with a Hock this time since I have had such GREAT experiences with these IBC blades. I know I really should, just to have a basis for comparison between the brands.

I know that some complain that A2 doesn’t get as sharp as high carbon steel, or other steels with finer internal grain structures, but the fact that these two blades have held their edges for so long has made the consistency of cut hold out much longer than if I was using softer steel blades. I can’t accurately quantify how much longer these blades hold their edge, but I wasn’t noticing any difference in cut quality for my #4 until I started hitting some knots and put a few nice little dings in the blade edge. I still haven’t noticed any change in the cut quality of the #7, and I have put at least as much mileage on it as I would have with a normal blade before getting to a point where I would have to stop and sharpen. I’m not really sure how to describe this, but I like the idea of being able to complete a reasonably sized project without having a significant change in the cut quality of a tool. For me, not having a blade get dull in the middle of working a piece (and the associated tear-out that I inevitably get from putting of sharpening for too long), is worth the hypothetical loss of a little bit of sharpness on the front end. I personally feel the initial sharpness of the blades is pretty darn good. . .

Oh well, that discussion seems to be for a different day. . . .

-- David from Indiana --




View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1789 days



15 comments so far

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2103 posts in 2480 days


#1 posted 03-09-2010 04:49 PM

that’s a good review. i guess the blade does the cutting so if you gotta splurge on one part, the blade would be it.

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12302 posts in 2849 days


#2 posted 03-09-2010 05:12 PM

Great review, remember that a plane is just a holder for a blade. Keep the original blade and if you decide to get a new plane, you can move the good blade to the new plane.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1789 days


#3 posted 03-09-2010 05:47 PM

Wayne, you and I are absolutely on the same page! If I ever get around to building the #5 infill I have been drawing up plans for, then this Footprint will be relegated to emergency use with the original blade, and the Pinnacle will migrate to the new body. I still have to get that #7 bright and shiny before I even THINK about starting an infill, though. :)

-- David from Indiana --

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4351 posts in 1800 days


#4 posted 03-09-2010 11:49 PM

David,
Thank you for the excellent review.

-- Bert

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4351 posts in 1800 days


#5 posted 03-09-2010 11:50 PM

What is the advantage of cryogenic A2 steel?
Is it more “dense”?

-- Bert

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4351 posts in 1800 days


#6 posted 03-09-2010 11:53 PM

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1789 days


#7 posted 03-10-2010 06:00 AM

Bert, you seem to have found all the information you needed, but the quick and dirty answer for those not wanting to read the research papers is that cryogenic treatments of certain types of steel makes them harder and more wear resistant. The result is that the sharpened blade tends to stay sharp longer, but it is a pain to get sharp in the first place!

-- David from Indiana --

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4351 posts in 1800 days


#8 posted 03-10-2010 12:50 PM

Thank you Dave,
When you use this kind of blade, you better have a sharpening system.
I noticed that the steel for the Hock blades is made back home , in France.
I also noticed in comparison test on popular woodworking , i believe, that he blades on the WoodRivers planes are the thickest one of the bunch, thicker than either hock or Lie-Nielsen

-- Bert

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1789 days


#9 posted 03-10-2010 06:39 PM

Bert,

Sand paper worked just fine sharpening this blade since the grind was pretty good to begin with. I would NOT want to regrind the bevel by hand, but that is not needed in this case. Putting a polish on the existing bevel and adding a microbevel were quite easy, just took a few more minutes than with “normal” steel.

That being said, if you have a Worksharp system that you would like to send me for free, just to make sure that it would work well with the cryo-A2 steel, I would be happy to test it out! :)

-- David from Indiana --

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4351 posts in 1800 days


#10 posted 03-10-2010 09:18 PM

“That being said, if you have a Worksharp system that you would like to send me for free, just to make sure that it would work well with the cryo-A2 steel, I would be happy to test it out! :)”

I was just going to ask you the same thing

-- Bert

View bigike's profile

bigike

4035 posts in 2040 days


#11 posted 04-09-2010 02:25 AM

i just got an email from rob cosman for these blades and it shows him with a stanley plane #4 and upgraded blade and chip breaker and he’s taking shavings of a piece of burch the same way a lie nielson plane would. I was sold from there cuz i have alot of old stanley’s and now some new record planes too so it’s time to upgrade. I have hock blades in a few of my planes but i want to put these pinnacle blades to the test myself, also the lie blades too. I’ll keep ya’ll posted. Now just to get the money together. LOL ;)

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://www.icombadaniels@yahoo.com

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1789 days


#12 posted 04-09-2010 03:48 AM

Added to initial review:

As a follow up, I was going to get an A2 Hock for comparison in my #7 Stanley that I just finished restoring, but Woodcraft goofed up an didn’t get my order into the local store. Rather than spending money on shipping, I just got another IBC A2 blade they had in stock.

I know that a sample size of 2 isn’t really statistically significant, but I can say that all of my experiences with the 2” #4 blade were repeated with the wider #7 blade. Again, though they are advertised being able to shave out of the box, they are not nearly as sharp as I would like, but I figured I would test how sharp they were and just slap the blade in my plane and try it out. It did perform “OK” on pine 2×4’s that I tested it on, but it was clear that the blade was not nearly what I would consider freshly sharpened. The preparation at the factory does have a very clear benefit—the blade and back are pretty close to acceptable, so it hardly takes any time to hone the edge into good shape.

As a disclaimer, these are the only A2 blades I have owned, so I can’t really give a brand vs. brand comparison, just that the hard steel keeps its edge a very long time vs. the normal steel blades I have used in other planes. I am sold on these blades and would like to get a replacement for my Bailey block plane, and I am not really sure whether I will even consider going with a Hock this time since I have had such GREAT experiences with these IBC blades. I know I really should, just to have a basis for comparison between the brands.

I know that some complain that A2 doesn’t get as sharp as high carbon steel, or other steels with finer internal grain structures, but the fact that these two blades have held their edges for so long has made the consistency of cut hold out much longer than if I was using softer steel blades. I can’t accurately quantify how much longer these blades hold their edge, but I wasn’t noticing any difference in cut quality for my #4 until I started hitting some knots and put a few nice little dings in the blade edge. I still haven’t noticed any change in the cut quality of the #7, and I have put at least as much mileage on it as I would have with a normal blade before getting to a point where I would have to stop and sharpen. I’m not really sure how to describe this, but I like the idea of being able to complete a reasonably sized project without having a significant change in the cut quality of a tool. For me, not having a blade get dull in the middle of working a piece (and the associated tear-out that I inevitably get from putting of sharpening for too long), is worth the hypothetical loss of a little bit of sharpness on the front end. I personally feel the initial sharpness of the blades is pretty darn good. . .

Oh well, that discussion seems to be for a different day. . . .

-- David from Indiana --

View Jon_Banquer's profile

Jon_Banquer

69 posts in 1560 days


#13 posted 09-17-2010 11:12 AM

What makes A2 harder to sharpen is the make up of the material itself. A2 has more Chromium in it than O1 or 02 steel does. Cryogenics is just use to stabilize the metal so it doesn’t “move”. There is little or no difference in the Rockwell hardness that either O1, O2 or A2 can be hardened to. A2’s real advantage for a machinist is the fact it doesn’t “move” like O1 or O2 so you can leave less material on before sending it to heat treating. This means when you get it back from heat treating you can finish the part faster because less material has to come off when surface grinding.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tool_steel

Hope this helps,

Jon Banquer
CAD/CAM Programmer / CNC machinist
San Diego, CA

-- Jon Banquer San Diego, CA CAD / CAM programmer, CNC Machinist

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1789 days


#14 posted 09-18-2010 02:28 AM

Jon,

I will agree that air quenching is less shocking to a material and causes less movement in the part being heat treated than oil quenching, resulting in less cleanup work later, but (and I hate to sound argumentative) your statements about cryogenic treatment are simply incorrect. First of all, cryo treatment occurs after quenching should have induced an movement in steels, so further cooling of the steel would only serve to induce additional movement of a air quenched piece, not less!. Second, the primary benefit of cryogenic treatment is in its conversion of austenite to martensite (sorry if I got the spelling on either of those wrong—going from memory here), and has nothing to do with facilitating tool cleanup. Prior to heat treatment, most carbon-iron structures within steel are comprised of pearlite and a couple of other crystalline packing motifs. I am not sure about all of them, but pearlite is a relatively soft crystalline orientation—body centered cubic (if memory serves)—for iron and carbon. Upon heating, the pearlite is converted to austenite, which is a face centered cubic iron/carbon crystal, and upon quenching, most of the austenite is further converted to martensite via compression of the lattice, forming a very hard body centered tetragonal crystalline structrure. It is this martensite that gives heat treated steel its hardness and toughness.

If the steel is slowly cooled, rather than quenched, the austenite will return to pearlite, and the material will not gain any additional hardness from heat treatment. The kicker here is that most oil quenched alloys have very little residual austenite after quenching—most of it is already converted to martensite. Air quenched alloys, on the other hand, are notorous for trapping austenite. The cryogenic treatment helps facilitate the conversion of austenite to martensite, thus making a tougher, longer wearing blade.

Jon, you are right that this cryo treatment does little to change the Rockwell rating of the steel—a distinction I was quite sloppy with in my original response to Bert. However, deep cryogenic treatment of air-cooled steels does facilitate the formation of carbides within the steel, and these carbides are themselves quite hard. The end result is that cryo treatment of A2 steel appreciably extends the wear resistance of the steel vs. non-cryo treated A2 steel.

A much more thorough discussion of tool steels, quenching and tempering can be found around the intarwebs, but I would recommend Ron Hock’s book “The Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers” as a good reference that is aimed directly at topics related to cutting wood. Oh, and he mentions a thing or two about how to sharpen stuff as well. I didn’t find Thomas Lie-Nielsen’s book “Sharpening” to be all that great, however, even though I am quite impressed at his tool making skills.

David

PS Jon, I see that you are a machinist, so I’ll definitely give you some credit for knowing how different steels behave. I will, however, add that I too have spent a pretty good bit of time in a machine shop, and that my “real job” is as a chemist, so I’ll just leave those facts without further comment.

-- David from Indiana --

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1789 days


#15 posted 11-26-2010 08:52 PM

Since I have had a little time with the A2 cryo blades, I figured I would post a quick note about their edge retention characteristics. As a quick and dirty estimate, I get at least 4 times the use out of these IBC (now branded Pinnacle) blades as I did out of the standard Stanley blades I have, and much longer than that vs. the inferior Footprint blades. An odd consequence of this is that the stock blades have subconsciously programmed me to sharpen at more frequent intervals than necessary with these hard blades, so I find myself re-honing a perfectly usable blade at the first signs of any decrease in cut quality since I have waited “so long” between sharpenings and it “must be time to sharpen!” Despite this tendency, I still save a ton of time sharpening even though each sharpening session takes longer since I have take many more strokes to remove metal from the hard, thick blade vs. the stock blades to get fresh metal to the edge and bring up a burr.

The biggest payoff for me isn’t the reduced time spent sharpening, but the decrease in time spent setting up my #4 smoother—a cheap Footprint. It can be rather touchy to set up properly (something I re-discovered after having the chance to play with a modern Bedrock copy and feeling how easy that was to adjust vs. the Footprint), and most of my time spent “sharpening” is actually spent trying to get the smoother back to its proper working settings. At some point I will get fed up with the Footprint’s sloppy adjustment mechanism and splurge on a nice smoother, but for now I can live with it since I have to mess with it so infrequently. When this blade starts to lose its edge, I only notice a little bit of extra resistance and an increased tendency to tear out when planing “uphill,” but I don’t notice the problems with chatter I had with the thinner stock blade.

The other IBC A2 Cryo blade I use with my #7 Stanley is also very durable, but it is not nearly as thick as the blade in my #4, so I have noticed chatter from time to time when it is ready to be sharpened and I am taking aggressive cuts in a harder wood. When sharp, I haven’t had any problems at all, and frequently leave the surface of my jointer as my final “finish” surface without even going to my smoother—the cut quality is often that good, despite my #7 having a much wider mouth opening and typically being set up for much thicker shavings than my smoother.

I am very impressed with the quality of these blades, and as I told someone the other day, I believe they have been the single biggest bang-for-the-buck tool purchase I have ever made.

As a final note, I fully believe that everything that I have said about these blades is a function of their steel and not the manufacturer of the blades. Specifically, I doubt there is much difference between the Hock and Pinnacle A2 Cryo blades since the experience reported for the Hock line are almost identical to what I have seen with the IBC/Pinnacle line. I have not extensively used the Hock blades to verify this, but I would not hesitate for a second to get one of their A2 Cryo blades with every expectation that it will perform just as the IBC blades.

-- David from Indiana --

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase