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Metal working in a wood shop.

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Blog entry by rhett posted 463 days ago 1932 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When we started Nice Ash Planes, all the woodworkers we talked with assumed we would go the normal route, buy premade irons and drop them in our plane. Nope, we decided to learn a bit about metallurgy and then tackled that bear ourselves. The real trick is in the heat treatment, but more on that later.

Our steel comes from the original steel state, PA. It shows up to our shop as 1/4” by 36” flat ground bar stock. Each bar will produce 10 blanks. The first few blades were cut with an angle grinder and then shaped from there. This process would be fine, if we were making just a couple of planes.

Bring in the big guy. This is our cold saw. It is basically a chop saw, but it runs 50 rpm at the blade. The blade is M25 steel, constantly quenched in a lubricating coolant. This little torque monster weighs in a bit under 200lbs and is the same size as a 10” mitre saw. The reason we took this route is the finished cut is clean, practically burr free, dead square and there are no sparks. Thats a big plus in a wood/metal set up.

We cut the blanks at a 45 degree bevel then send them off. By doing this, we ensure we are grinding up into a nice, tight, carbon matrix.

Here is where the magic happens. This is a quench and temper furnace, at Ky Heat Treating, in Winchester Ky. Fully automated, baskets of O1 steel get brought up to critical temperature, then quickly queched in warmed oil. They are then transfered to ovens where proper temperature is maintained to achieve the desired Rockwell hardness. We have ours hardened to Rc 60-61. This lprecision control of temperature and time ensure a consistent iron.

Back at the shop, its time to get sharp.

A horizontal edge sander, fitted with a 40 grit silicon carbide belt, produces a nice hollow grind. The grit on these belts is much harder than aluminum oxide and they handle steel wonderfully. The primary bevel is 25 degrees. I know it’s not spark free, but hollow grinding the blades on the wet stone was a time destroyer and we are, dare I say, trying to make a profit.

From here we move to a different machine, to get our secondary, 30 degree bevel. The constant water bath keeps the most susceptible part of the blade safe from the accidental “blueing”, that destroys the temper at the edge and produces much foul language. From here the blades get their backs flattened and cutting edges honed, via a combo of scary sharp and Japanese waterstone.

Side by side of 45 to 30 degree, double bevel, hollow grind.

Our blades next to other “standard” blade thicknesses. There is no chip breaker in a Nice Ash Plane. They were originally added to hand planes, to counteract the harmonic resonance of thin metal blades. With a 1/4” thick blade, chatter and harmonic resonance are virtually eliminated.

Thanks for reading.

-- http://planeandsimpleblog.wordpress.com/



12 comments so far

View Robb's profile

Robb

660 posts in 2539 days


#1 posted 463 days ago

Wow, thanks for taking us through your process! Those look like some great blades.

-- Robb

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2498 days


#2 posted 463 days ago

looks bad ass

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Don W's profile

Don W

14673 posts in 1172 days


#3 posted 463 days ago

thanks for sharing the process. Very interesting.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Brandon's profile

Brandon

4137 posts in 1556 days


#4 posted 463 days ago

Very cool! Looks like you’re doing things the right way. I wish you the best in this business!

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View stefang's profile

stefang

12605 posts in 1939 days


#5 posted 463 days ago

I think that your business idea and the simplicity of your plane body united with such a heavy blade is very good and I hope that it will be a winner. I wish you all the best of luck with your venture. It is refreshing to see someone pursuing the American dream with optimism instead of whining about how terrible things are. Business, (and life) are what you make of it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

1830 posts in 856 days


#6 posted 462 days ago

Thanks for the backstage pass on the process. It’s like watching “How It’s Made” in still pictures.

I wish some of my wood body planes had a 1/4” thick blade with no chip breaker too. Good concept and execution.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1096 posts in 574 days


#7 posted 462 days ago

Really cool process. Hopefully this summer I can get one

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View Loren's profile

Loren

7276 posts in 2253 days


#8 posted 462 days ago

Have you thought about adding some texture to one side
of the iron?

One issue I’ve had with the couple of planes I have with
1/4” thick irons, no chipbreaker and wood wedges
is I really have to pound the wedge in hard to prevent
the iron from moving… so hard the iron is hard to
adjust.

Some old planes have a tapered iron. I think it may help
prevent iron slippage.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Philip's profile

Philip

1087 posts in 1144 days


#9 posted 459 days ago

Loos like a winner to me.

-- If you can dream it, I can do it!

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2498 days


#10 posted 459 days ago

keep the file to the furrow

many great things come from it

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View TobyC's profile

TobyC

461 posts in 480 days


#11 posted 455 days ago

Very cool, that’s a lot of steel, I like it!

Toby

-- Cigarettes and squirrels are completely harmless until you put one in your mouth and light it up.

View rhett's profile

rhett

697 posts in 2272 days


#12 posted 453 days ago

Save 50% by grinding and honing the blades yourself. Get your ash to work and save some money!

-- http://planeandsimpleblog.wordpress.com/

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