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  • Plane iron is soft

    Started to sharpen and use a Stanley 60 1/2 low angle block plane.
    could get a mirror finish and shave my arm with it but it wouldn't plane wood except taking tiny strips off a corner.

    I use three Record planes and can get them sharp enough to shave off end grain of oak or walnut, so i know what I should expect. Being low angle it should work better on end grain.

    Kept sharpening, testing and inspecting and concluded that the blade is simply soft. Has the Stanley name engraved on the iron and this one takes
    a blade with several slots machined in the back for the adjuster to engage in so its a factory part I'm sure and its looks old.

    I would expect it to chip if too brittle or fold over if too soft or simply dull but this looks like the wood has hammered it to dullness and it does it instantly.
    Its interesting to learn that when sharpening with the right product and procedure that one can look into the edge and see nothing. Any dullness shows as a line, an end where there should be nothing. Once knowing what to look for its easy to see.

    Suppose I could treat it like oil hardening steel?

  • #2
    Some plane irons were laminated,meaning they just had a high carbon or HSS strip welded to a lower alloy steel for a cutting edge.If it's an old plane then it's possible that the cutting edge has been ground away over the years leaving nothing but the lower alloy body.


    Here is a run down of the Stanley low angle planes,your 60-1/2 is in the age group that is likely to have a laminated iron.

    Last edited by wierdscience; 01-01-2019, 09:16 PM.
    I just need one more tool,just one!

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    • #3
      I have a Stanley plane that has a laminated blade and I'm pretty sure you would run out of length before getting past the laminated part.

      I expect it's made from water hardening steel, rather than oil hardening steel. Having said that, if you went with an oil quench you might get it hard enough, but not have to temper it afterwards.

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      • #4
        Most of the Stanly stuff, planes and chisels were soft. You could polish them up to a mirror finish but they won't hold an edge for very long.
        I have a set of chisels that are like that. I usually give them a new edge on my surface grinder and a light hone after grinding.
        I have often wondered if I could harden the last inch or so. Can't do the whole thing because they have plastic handles.
        I'm not sure what kind of steel they are. They may not be able to be hardened.

        JL.............

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        • #5
          Yes, I have seen it on rare occasion with a Stanley iron, and yes you can re-harden it. Assuming you bought it used, as they are likely 50 years or more old now, I would guess someone overheated it when sharpening or bad qc. At any rate, I have found their blades to heat treat and oil quench very well. Heat evenly until a magnet doesn't attract, old motor oil or better quench. Short temper at 400 degrees.

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          • #6
            I would not put it past some previous owner to have sharpened it badly and it kept chipping away and in his own misguided point of disgust he tempered it back too far. The really old Stanley wasn't immune to the odd lemon slipping through by any means I'm sure. But generally they made great stuff. So to my thinking it's more likely that it was some previous owner trying to "fix" what they thought was wrong.

            Certainly my own 60 1/2 that came to me new from right near the end of the production has been a real champ. I actually (and regretfully at this point) sold off my iron jack and finishing plane in favor of wood body planes. But the 60 1/2 block plane was and still is simply too perfect to not use and use frequently.

            If you have no luck in fixing the heat treatment of the blade then you may like to know that Lee Valley and likely others have replacements made by specialty makers that are done from excellent steel that fit right in like the originals. And if you don't have a suitable way to bring the whole blade up to proper temperature for hardening then the roughly $30US for a new Veritas blade to fit starts to sound like a real bargain.
            Chilliwack BC, Canada

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            • #7
              replace with these. http://www.hocktools.com/products/bp.html you will be satisfied.
              san jose, ca. usa

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              • #8
                Your link was for the bench planes. Here' the link to the block plane blades.

                Improve the performance of your block plane with a better blade from Hock Tools.
                Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                • #9
                  Honestly, i wouldnt bother trying to reharden it. Not because its not doable, but because you can get a known-good, better than original quality blade for not much money. Heck, you could make one, by the sound of it youre capable of heat treating steel to a reasonable degree. Buy new plane iron or a piece of 3/16 O1 stock, either way youll end up with a better tool.

                  Ive been burned one too many times by trying to heat treat mystery steels for knives. Might work okay, but you will always get better results when you know what kind of steel youre working with.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks for all the info. Tried Oil hardening and could tell the difference but still wasn't pleased.
                    Ordered A-2 blades for my Stanley 60 1/2 and 9 1/2 both from Hock Tools $108.

                    Nice website even if you don't buy anything.
                    Last edited by GKman; 01-02-2019, 05:35 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Epic, not that it matters anymore but the blades for the 60 1/2 have more than just a hole in them. The back has for our five small blind rounded slots cut in the face to engage the DOC adjuster to cover off wear over the years. So a bit more work than just cutting out a plate of tool steel and drilling or milling the hole for the hold down screw.
                      Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                      • #12
                        Lee Valley carries a large variety of plane irons at good prices.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by GKman View Post
                          Thanks for all the info. Tried Oil hardening and could tell the difference but still wasn't pleased.
                          Ordered A-2 blades for my Stanley 60 1/2 and 9 1/2 both from Hock Tools $108.

                          Nice website even if you don't buy anything.
                          feel free to call them if you you need too, ron hock is a great guy and knows his stuff.
                          san jose, ca. usa

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