Problems sharpening/using PM-V11 blades

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Forum topic by bobasaurus posted 11-30-2015 03:33 AM 2844 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3485 posts in 3210 days

11-30-2015 03:33 AM

Topic tags/keywords: pm-v11

I own a couple PM-V11 steel blades for my Veritas planes and I can never seem to get them as sharp as I expect.

Even after several sharpening cycles, my shooting plane’s stock PM-V11 blade has trouble slicing paper and isn’t all that good at cutting the end grain of even cherry or pine. Shooting with my LA jack equipped with a 25 deg A2 blade does a far better job.

I also just sharpened up a brand new 50 deg PM-V11 blade for my LA jack, but despite looking shiny it feels dull to the touch, can’t slice paper, and just bounces across straight-grained walnut when testing the cut. Here is what the blade looks like after sharpening:

Pretty shiny right? Looks exactly the same as my A2 blades after sharpening. But it doesn’t catch my fingernail or the skin of my finger, can’t slice paper in any direction, and just bounces off / skids over anything I try to plane. Couldn’t make any shavings off my test block of walnut.

I sharpened the 25 deg A2 blade the exact same way, popped it in the plane, and the same piece of walnut now cuts perfectly:

I use a variety of the Rob Cosman freehand sharpening technique, which starts on a 1000 grit diamond stone for the secondary bevel and then moves directly to a 15000 grit shapton pro waterstone for the tertiary bevel, followed by a couple strokes on the back to remove any burr and polish the flat. I also strop a few strokes on leather with white rouge, but it isn’t necessary… my A2/O1 irons are sharp as hell after either way. When I sharpen PM-V11 this way, I can never feel a burr on the back after even the coarsest stone (unlike A2 and O1), and when done the edge just feels round to the touch… like I’d have to work hard to cut myself with it.

So what on earth is happening? This steel has been advertised as god’s gift to hand planes, but it just feels like crud each time I use it. Is it a flaw in my sharpening technique? I’d really appreciate any advise on the subject.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

15 replies so far

View ronniebo's profile


128 posts in 2691 days

#1 posted 11-30-2015 03:52 AM

My 2 bobs` worth suggests that it might be worth only sharpening one bevel and try that to see if somehow your second and third bevels are only rounding the edge, particularly with a freehand approach.
I envy those Japanese folk who van go freehand, but I need to trust my jigs.
I`m curious to know where you obtain the PM-V11 irons and what they cost.
Ron in Hobart

View TheFridge's profile


9608 posts in 1512 days

#2 posted 11-30-2015 04:10 AM

Poor irons or flaw in technique. Leaning towards the latter. No offense.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Boatman53's profile


1056 posts in 2222 days

#3 posted 11-30-2015 04:25 AM

If you look at the edge itself (not the polished faces) do you see any light reflected anywhere? A truly sharp edge reflects no light at the intersection of the back and the bevel.
Would you be interested in sending it to me for sharpening? I’m working on a new sharpening jig and haven’t sharpened that steel before. It doesn’t matter to the jig of course, but I’d like to try it. I’ll send it back at my expense.

-- Jim, Long Island, NY home of the chain leg vise

View bobasaurus's profile


3485 posts in 3210 days

#4 posted 11-30-2015 04:25 AM

Okay, I’ve been experimenting with this and tried sharpening the shooting plane’s iron for much longer on each stone. I spent maybe 30 sec to 1 minute on the diamond stone and was finally able to feel a burr on the back, the first time I’ve been able to do so on this steel. I then did about 30 seconds on my 15k stone and noticed a tiny wire burr peeling away from the cutting edge, like a super thin wire. So I kept at it and did another 30 seconds, then ruler-tricked the back.

And it is now sharp as hell, exactly the same as my equivalent A2 iron when cutting paper. I popped the now-sharpened PM-V11 blade into my jack (nice that the shooting and jack plane blades are interchangeable), and it works flawlessly. The shaving curled up tightly, but I stretched it out and took a picture:

This is amazing to me because I did the same thing when the blade first arrived… lots of time on each stone, but didn’t achieve anything like this edge.

So I have two theories. I could not be spending enough time on each stone to properly form and remove a burr. Or possibly they grind the edge thin before tempering the steel, making the steel too soft for the first few sharpenings… and now I’ve broken through to the properly hardened/tempered core.

I’m going to try sharpening the 50 degree blade again next. I’ll report my findings. Thanks for the help.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 1915 days

#5 posted 11-30-2015 04:27 AM

Maybe this is why I never noticed my shooting plane working right. It always seemed to just jump over the end grain.

I’ll have to give this a try! Thanks!

View Boatman53's profile


1056 posts in 2222 days

#6 posted 11-30-2015 04:28 AM

Glad you got it figured out.

Edit, I didn’t think it was wise to use the ruler trick on a bevel up blade. Too much back bevel and it lifts the edge off the wood.

-- Jim, Long Island, NY home of the chain leg vise

View Mosquito's profile


9354 posts in 2318 days

#7 posted 11-30-2015 04:52 AM

That was going to be my question; have you tried sharpening longer. Everything I’d read about the PM-V11 was that it was quite a bit harder to sharpen than A2 or O1, so wondered about that. I’ve been thinking about picking up some PM-V11 chisels, so was watching this thread :)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View bobasaurus's profile


3485 posts in 3210 days

#8 posted 11-30-2015 04:56 AM

Jim, I forgot to look at the edge before trying my extensive resharpening. Now I can’t see any light reflected from the edge. Thanks for the kind offer of sharpening, I might take you up on that if I can’t fully figure this out.

Lat, I’ve heard about the blade tempering problem before on some website, but I can’t recall where. It’s also common in the world of knife making. In the few I’ve made, I leave the edge about 1/32” thick instead of fully grinding it to a point before heat treatment, otherwise you can burn/decarb the thin steel and make it worthless until ground back.

Or I could just suck at sharpening this new steel. I’ll try resharpening the 50 deg blade shortly.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View bobasaurus's profile


3485 posts in 3210 days

#9 posted 11-30-2015 04:57 AM

Jim, you’re right about the back bevel… I’m trying to move away from it and just flatten the backs properly. On the new 50 deg blade I’m not doing the ruler trick, gonna stick to lapping.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View upchuck's profile


540 posts in 1691 days

#10 posted 11-30-2015 05:44 AM

I think that it is all about the burr. If you proceeded to the next higher grit before you formed the burr/wire/feather edge then you are not getting two plane surfaces meeting at an edge with zero radius. The burr is useless except that it tells us when we’ve reached zero radius. I have no experience with the PM-V11 steel (although I’ve read about it and look forward to trying it out). But sharpening is sharpening and finding the burr is more important than counting number of stokes or minutes on each stone. Glad you got it figured out and I’ll be interested in hearing a report on how long your edge lasts compared to other steels you’ve used.

View Andre's profile


1888 posts in 1832 days

#11 posted 11-30-2015 06:26 AM

Switches all my Stanleys to PMV-11 and have a few L.V. planes with PMV-11 blades, use 1000 then 8000 water stones on hollow grinds, no burr, you can always see dull!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View bobasaurus's profile


3485 posts in 3210 days

#12 posted 11-30-2015 07:11 AM

I was able to get my 50 degree PM-V11 blade sharp finally. I again spent 30s – 1 minute on each stone and was able to feel the burr before removing it on the 15k. Looks like I just needed to spend about 2-4x more time than I do on A2/O1… this stuff is really wear-resistant. Here is a shaving I took with the blade on the same stubborn piece of walnut, against the grain:

It left a great surface and pushed without much resistance (other than from the high angle). So thanks for all the help, sorry I’m so inept. I’m glad I was able to work this out, as I just ordered a couple more planes from LV’s cyber monday sale :) .

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View bobasaurus's profile


3485 posts in 3210 days

#13 posted 11-30-2015 07:15 AM

And here’s a bonus pic with my freshly-sharpened shooter:

Cut that walnut good.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View rwe2156's profile


2965 posts in 1506 days

#14 posted 11-30-2015 12:24 PM

....and was able to feel the burr….

- bobasaurus

You learned THE most important think about honing!

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View OSU55's profile


1700 posts in 2015 days

#15 posted 11-30-2015 12:49 PM

I find the PM-V11 blades require about the same to sharpen as A2, both taking 2x compared to O1. I use jigs to sharpen. The big advantage I’ve found with PM-V11 is at lower bevel angles, like 25° for end grain, the edge doesn’t chip out like A2. Even at higher bevel angles, the PM-V11 lasts longer. If you plan to buy a new plane or blade, the PM-V11 is worth the extra cost, but I wouldn’t buy it to replace an existing good iron.

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