Working with the 4-½ hand plane to smooth a board had become a chore; I was getting chatter (blade vibration) as I pushed the plane over the wood. This can often happen with the original thin blades and chip breaker. So I ordered a new blade and a chip breaker for the plane. I chose the regular high carbon blade. The items arrived two days later.
I installed the iron without honing, as I wanted to see how sharp it was. I normally hone the micro bevel when I get a new blade, as a minimum; but even the micro bevel looked good under some magnification. Immediately I was able to tell a huge improvement in the way the new blade reacted in the hand plane. I was getting full-width shavings; I tweaked the lateral adjustment, and soon the plane felt like a brand-new tool:
Using proper care, the new iron should last a long time. Proper care includes wiping the polished surfaces with oil:
With maple, the full-width shavings were thin – less than 0.001″; the surface of the board shimmered when viewed with low angle lighting. I got nice, fluffy shavings:
And with walnut I got similar results:
I won’t be ordering a new hand plane to replace this old one. It is a great feeling to improve the performance of a tool with something as simple as replacing the blade and the chip breaker for thicker ones. My biggest challenge will be to keep the iron sharp — but Ron Hock’s book (The Sharper Edge) has already helped me tremendously.
In his most recent blog entry, Ron shows us it *is* easy to preserve and restore these old hand planes, to “keep them on the road”.
— Al Navas