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Now THIS is a blade ...!

A couple of weeks before Christmas last year Jiri, my friend in Sweden, sent me a plane blade. This was not just any blade. This was the blade to end all blades ..

3" wide (77mm to be exact).

9" long.

I cleaned it up to make the maker's mark clearer.

I spent a weekend flattening the back of the blade. A weekend! I used Shaptons, diamond paste and diamond stones, a belt sander, and the side of a Tormek wheel. I have never had such hard steel to lap. Never! That includes the supersteels I have been testing. It may turn out that the steel has been incorrectly heat treated, or not heat treated at all. If so, I shall have to redo it later. Meanwhile I can report that the blade is laminated, beautifully done, and once hollow ground and honed, takes an incredible edge that leaves a gleaming finish on Radiata Pine (that is praise beyond all).

Here is a comparison with a Stanley #4 (this one is a custom M4) and LN #4 1/2 (standard 2 3/8" wide and about 4mm thick). Did I mention that the Berg is tapered and reaches 1/4"(just over 6mm) at the working end?!

The second part of the story unfolds.

Jiri gave me instructions to build a plane. After lapping the back of the blade I noted that it was not coplanar along its length. The face (that lies on the bed) is perfectly coplanar, but the back tapers toward the edge. Mmm .. this could be a problem if I use a wedge.

Enter Peter McBride. Peter is an amazing planemaker and has an even more amazing collection of infill planes. About two years ago he sent me a vintage lever cap with a lever cap screw he made for it. The lever cap was 3" wide. What on Earth was I do do with a lever cap that is 3" wide. Well, the answer is put in a drawer and wait for Jiri to send the blade!

It was a little rough, and the picture here is after I cleaned it up. There is a name, "Shepherd" on the face (no, that the Shepherd boys from a few years ago) ..

I also added a little mod to the blade. This was to make it usable without cap iron (or chipbreaker). I did make a cap iron, but did not like the effect. This blade does not need a cap iron.

The mod was to shorten the top of the blade and infill the slot ..

I think that the combination will be a match made in Heaven ..

Now to the plane.

The question I would like to throw out is "what would you build with this combination?".

Just for the record I am nearing the end of the plane build, so I am not looking for ideas. I am interested in what you see in the opportunity, what you would do in my place. I wonder who would guess what I have done?

Regards from Perth


April 2011