Which is Better? The Old Plane Irons or the New Plane Irons?

Wood must be smoothed, squared up and made to fit--the three main jobs of a plane.

Aldren A. Watson, Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings, 1982

I mentioned in an earlier post that I thought that the best way to soup up your antique metal hand plane was to replace the original chip breaker with a thicker one. I have a Lee Valley breaker on a #3 Stanley plane and a Hock on my #4 and #7 Stanley planes, both are great chip breakers and reduce iron chatter by an amazing amount.

A #3 iron on the left, a #4 iron on the right

My #3 and #7 sport Hock blades, wonderful blades to use and sharpen, but on one of my #4's I kept the original iron and installed a new breaker. That iron works just as well as the Hock irons, but I find the original Stanley iron sharpens to a razor more quickly and easily and holds an edge just as long as the Hock iron. The same goes for the iron that is in my Stanley #35.

After using those old irons for over 30 years, I know that those old timers sure knew how to make good steel.

Now, go sharpen your tools and get to work!


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