|Review by wch||posted 05-05-2010 09:23 AM||3275 views||0 times favorited||9 comments|
- Pinnacle/IBC Blade for Veritas bevel-up jointer/jack/smoother
- Brand: Pinnacle/IBC | Category: Hand Planes
On the Woodcraft website, this blade is branded Pinnacle, which is Woodcraft’s house brand, but it’s made by IBC and the blade has “IBC” printed on it. Apparently IBC used to make blades for Veritas, but they’ve recently started making planes under their own brand, and Woodcraft is making a marketing push for their new Pinnacle/IBC blades. This particular blade can be used in the Veritas bevel-up jointer, jack, and smoother.
I bought this blade because I was already ordering some stuff from Woodcraft, and I wanted a second blade for my Veritas bevel-up jack plane which I could hone at a steeper angle, for planing difficult wood. The blade cost a couple dollars more than a genuine Veritas blade from Lee Valley, but I figured that I’d save on shipping here, and possibly get a better blade. Better, you ask? Well, the IBC blade is made from cryogenically treated A2 steel, while the Veritas blade is non-cryogenic A2. There’s some debate on whether cryogenic treatment makes for a more durable blade. Some people say it helps; others say it doesn’t. (The people at Veritas aren’t yet convinced that it helps, and they’re pretty smart.)
The new blade looked pretty nice, but the back wasn’t flat. I spent a while flattening it with 180-grit sandpaper glued to glass. In about 40 minutes of flattening the back, I went through two pieces of 4×9” sandpaper, and it still wasn’t flattened to the corners. There was maybe 1-2 mm on each side where the sandpaper hadn’t touched it. Bear in mind that I was only flattening the front 3/4 inch or so; I wasn’t wasting effort by trying to flatten the entire blade. I should mention that I did this in two sessions. The first time, I gave up after about 25 minutes, and the second time I did about 15 more minutes—and it’s still not done. After the 180-grit sandpaper, I moved on to various finer stones, up to 8000 grit. With the 8000 grit stone, I used the “ruler trick” to speed things up. You can see in the photo that the polishing doesn’t reach to the corners. (Keep in mind that the photo is of the flat side of the blade, not the bevel side.)
In contrast, with the real Veritas blade, I started directly on 8000 grit and was done in a minute or two. The same is true of the one Lie-Nielsen blade that I have.
The blade durability seems good. I can’t compare it directly to my Veritas A2 blade because they’re sharpened at different angles, but the IBC blade seems at least as good.
Overall, I think this blade is a poor value, if your time is worth anything. It’s possible that the cryogenically-treated A2 steel is more durable than the regular Veritas A2 steel, but when I pay this much money, I expect that I won’t have to go through the tedium of flattening the blade and burning through sandpaper (and having to remove and glue down more sandpaper)—especially because it costs more than the Veritas blade. In short, I paid more, and what I got was the privilege of flattening a blade.
Last week I tried to post a similar review on Woodcraft’s web site, but for some reason it hasn’t shown up. I gave it three stars at the time. I gave it two stars here, because I’ve since gone through a second flattening session. While I was flattening the blade, I had plenty of time to think, and the cynical side of me suspects that Woodcraft is intentionally not posting bad reviews of their big new product. On the Woodcraft website right now, there’s a picture of Rob Cosman with his arms crossed, looking confidently into the camera, saying, “I’ll place these blades against any premium blades…” I did just that and found out that I should have stuck to the real deal.
Edit: One small thing I forgot to mention—the IBC blade is slightly thicker than the Veritas blade, at 4.85mm vs. 4.55mm. I doubt this has much of an effect in terms of performance, but I do know that when you switch between the two blades (which I do often), it sometimes requires a little extra fiddling with some screws. There’s a thumbscrew on the lever cap, and a flathead screw on the plane body that the lever cap hooks onto and pivots on. Normally when you remove the blade, you just use the thumbscrew. But since these blades are not quite the same thickness, when switching blades, sometimes the thumbscrew can’t be backed off enough to fit the other blade, so you have to turn the flathead screw a little. This can be done by hand (without a screwdriver), so it’s not a big deal, but it is one more step. I should mention that it’s possible to just back off the screw so that lever cap will always go on without fuss, but then that requires more turning of the thumbscrew, and I previously liked having the lever cap go on and off with minimal turning of the thumbscrew. I know this is a minor point, but one of the reasons I like this plane so much is because of its precision. And, again, for the price I paid, I don’t like that this blade makes things feel slightly out of whack. This wouldn’t be a problem if this were a plane where I just kept in one blade all the time, but that’s not how I use it—one of the advantages of the bevel-up design is that you can change the behavior of the plane just by swapping in a blade with a different bevel angle,.