A couple of weeks ago I was going through some stuff in my shop and I found an older style Hock iron (O-1 steel) that I purchased around 1990. I was still really green relating to hand planes at that point, but I knew I wanted to learn how to both sharpen well and setup a plane to work like I’d seen from some experienced guys. I hadn’t ever used any of the Hock tools before, at the time when I purchased the iron, but there was something about their products that led me to believe it was a good buy. Boy, I was a good judge of character (at least about the Hock tools, lol)!
Ok, fast forward some 26 years later and I was completely surprised that I still had that iron. For some reason I thought I’d sold one of my old planes, with that iron in it, and that it was long gone! What a nice surprise it was still around.
I checked the edge on the Hock iron and it wasn’t even close to being sharp, so I used my usual sharpening techniques, with my 1000-grit Shapton Glass-stone and my 8000-grit Norton water-stone. A couple of minutes later (O-1 is one of the fastest steels to sharpen, yet this iron holds it’s edge a long time) it was razor sharp, and ready to take it’s rightful place in my oldest Bailey #3 hand plane.
The iron that I’ve had in the old Bailey was from 1892, and was a laminated piece. It always held an edge extremely well, which satisfied me greatly. After swapping the old Stanley iron for this much younger, but older-styled Hock iron, I of course had to test the replacement and see how it compared.
In the last 26 years, I’ve made a number of wooden hand planes, and purchased all of their irons from Hock. Each of these thicker irons performed exceptionally well, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to notice much of a difference between the two irons for my #3. I took some shavings on a number of different boards, from hard Maple, Purple Heart, Cherry, Oak… and I was truly amazed at the superior surface the Hock iron provided.
I was totally blown away! I’ve always thought the old laminated Stanley irons were as good or better than anything else out there, but it is obvious my perception was a bit off.
I felt the need to share my results with anyone who might be interested in reading it, so others could also benefit from my experiment. Of course, this was not conducted in a true scientific environment, or using scientific protocols, nor does it indicate all others will get the same results as I did. Even though the new products Hock is currently making may be slightly different than the older version I posses, Hock’s quality control is good, and will still present you with an equally high quality O-1 iron.
You can check out quite a few of the Hock lineup of irons and other tools, if you click on the Highland Woodworking link on my page.
Thank you for stopping by to check out this article. I hope this information is beneficial. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Ok, I’m sure there are some readers asking themselves if they’ve somehow missed a big announcement about a new tool from the Hock Tools. While it is possible this could be the case, but this drawknife isn’t one that you missed. I wrote an article for Highland Woodworking recently discussing my need for a tool that can better work the inside curves on the guitars/basses that I make. This is the tool that I created, from a Hock Spokeshave blade.
I decided to make a new saw vise, and like I tend to do when I have a new design, I’ll find some previously used wood to repurpose into a prototype. This time I used some blanks of White Oak that I’d used as a make-shift Moxon type of vise, that was attached to the edge of my table saw. If you see some sections of the wood that look like there might be cut-outs, this is just another time I’ve tapped this wood to test an idea.
This design has some curves that are more tight than my present band saw blade could handle, so I used some rasps to get a somewhat decent surface.
After spending some time working to clean up the surface of the curve, I thought it was a great time to use my new “drawknife”. I’d previously tested the drawknife on some mahogany I was working at the time, but nothing quite as hard as this oak, so in the back of my mind I was wondering how it would prevail. I flipped the drawknife over so the bevel was towards the wood, and make a couple of cuts. Wow! This thing is totally amazing! It was like I’d put some basswood or cheese into the vise, and was cutting at will. Here is the “after” photo of the same curve, with a “totally coincidental” photo op for the drawknife. 😉
If anyone that read my Highland piece ever had any questions as to whether this would work, I’d say this should answer that.
Thanks for checking out the article and let me know if you have any questions or comments.