Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ray Iles irons and Hock chip breakers

The bench planes
 Well I finally got around to outfitting my three bench planes with thicker irons and chip breakers which I have to say was a worthwhile endeavor. 

Anyway I chose the Ray Iles 0-1 irons available from Tools for Working Wood for a couple of reasons. Mainly it was the description of how the back is slightly concave and reduces honing, but also I liked the traditional style of the top of the iron. I have some other Ray Iles products as well and have never been disappointed.

I chose the Hock chip breakers since they have a good reputation and were available from TFWW and it didn't cost any additional shipping.

I purchased the following items: A 1 3/4" iron and chip breaker for my #3 Bailey, two 2" irons and chip breakers for my #5, and a 2 5/8" iron and chip breaker for my #8. I purchased two 2" irons for the #5 so I could grind one with a camber for the usual jack work and hone one straight for shooting. This has worked out well.

I then created a couple of camber templates for the jack and joiner plane irons. I selected a 10" radius for the jack as a fairly aggressive camber but not overly as I also have a scrub plane. It will remove some wood but doesn't require too much cleanup work. For the joiner I went with a 20" radius to allow for a fairly smooth surface but still allow for the ability to use the camber to square the edge when doing some edge jointing. I scribed the camber on each iron and ground straight on to the line and then re-established the bevel. Once these two irons were ground it was off to the stones.

So as it turns out the backs of the irons are indeed slightly concave and made getting the stone to work the edge a breeze on the back. I really appreciate this. The cambered irons were initially hones on a coarse crysolon stone to remove the grinding marks and finish establishing the edge. I worked the irons on medium India, and soft and hard Arkansas stones to a good edge. For the smooth plane I took this a step farther with additional honing on a black Arkansas and a strop charged with chromium oxide. The irons took edges easily and well.

When I finished honing I applied the chip breakers which fit the irons perfectly and required no rework to their edges. The supplied screws however were too long to allow the lever cap to close properly and were quickly ground flush with the face of the chip breaker. So far so good.

With the thicker irons the mouth of the plane was going to need some adjustment. I like to align the frog of my planes with the back of the mouth to create a continuous bed to support the iron and don't really believe that moving the frog back past this point is good practice. That said through trial and err I filed the mouth of each plane open to accept the new iron. The mouth on the #3 was kept fine while the #5 was made wider relative to the edge than it had been previously. The #8 was made somewhere between the two.

My goal with the #5 was to allow thick shavings to escape. I used the references in Moxon as a guide with the coarse shaving of the jack being about a shilling thickness or .04 of an inch. With my dual goal of having the #5 perform both jack and shooting duties I don't believe that the wide mouth will be much of an issue on end grain as there is no lever action of the chip for the mouth to keep down.

I took each of these planes for a test run and found the results to be excellent, with the jack working white oak both traverse and with the grain very well with a coarse shaving and smooth ejection and the smoother taking off the finest of shavings on poplar, oak and maple and leaving a smooth finish.


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