Laminated plane irons?


Just starting to get back into woodworking after being away for several years.
Years ago I remember reading about some manufacturer who was selling laminated plane irons with (I think) a layer of very hard steel sandwiched between two layers of tougher but softer steel.
Either that, or I suppose it was just made of two layers - one harder but more brittle layer laminated to a softer, tougher layer. (If it was 3 layers, I guess you'd have to have bevels on *both* sides of the iron.)
Anyway, it always seemed like a good idea to me (I have a Swedish Frost's laminated steel hunting knife that cuts like a dream) and I wondered whether anyone here had tried such an iron? Comments?
Thanks,
Col.
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[...]

One hard layer with the edge, one soft layer for the rest. The hard layer usually does not extend over the whole length of the iron, it stops short of the slot for the screw to fix the chip breaker.
It's not a new idea, all my older planes (more than 40 years old) have sich irons. It's still the common technology for japanese irons.
Also nice are chinese irons with a hard HSS front part and a soft steel back part, with a brazed scarf joint between them.
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Got three-six of those laminated carving knives myself. They are a great deal, for those looking for shop knives. Tough enough with the mild steel, but viciously sharp edge. Just remember they will chip a bit easier if you try to use them as screwdrivers. Having raised two boys, I know this for a fact.
However, what was a necessity is now termed a virtue as far as plane irons go. Back when steel was ridiculously expensive, it made perfect sense to laminate or weld a steel end onto mild steel or even iron. With modern alloys and treatments, machts nichts. I have high carbon and A2 in mine, both take and hold an edge well enough that you just might hesitate to rehone, even though you should, by board feet. They're still cutting well. Toughness, as with the knives, is certainly no issue.
It may be a talking point for devotees of Japanese irons, but it's certainly not necessary.
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wrote:

Right George - and this practice/technology of laminating goes back a few hundred years at least.
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Not at all - just look at the Japanese chisels. Both parts are steel, but the edge steel is a high carbon steel that would be impossibly brittle for making the whole chisel out of.
You can argue that "A2 simply replaces everything" and for most tools, for almost all people, you'd have a point. But current Japanese low-end edge steels are simply unusable unless laminated, and there's still a very good argument that these admittedly brittle steels still have there place instead of A2, not just at the esoteric end.
I also have plenty of Sheffield tools (particularly axes) that are a steel edge welded between a folded iron (not steel) head. Some of these aren't even particularly old. Lots of my big framing slicks are a three-part weld - a hard steel lamination welded to a soft steel chisel body, then a wrought iron piece welded on to make the socket for the handle.
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wrote:

A two-layer sandwich for planes and chisels. Three layer is for symmetrical edges, like knives.
I use these a lot. All my Japanese irons are laminated, the Stanley Sweetheart iron is one of my favourite old plane irons. Plane irons and especially mortice chisels from Sheffeld are laminated too.
If I make a specialist wooden or infill plane, then I use a 50 year old Marples or similar laminated iron in it (I can buy these NOS easily) If I refurb a Stanley smoother, then I usually put a Samurai laminated iron into it.
With modern steels, particularly A2, then you probably get a better iron for almost all purposes. I can sharpen a laminated iron to a better edge, but I know I can't keep it there as long. I also can't work A2 to shape it how I want it (you can harden it easily, but it's not annealable by mortal man). Where I have a modern vertas plane with an A2 iron in it, then I'm really happy with it - but I can't use it for specials and refurbs in the same way.
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They are made in Japan by a blacksmith, the only place I know of or can find to buy them is from Japan Woodworker: http://japanwoodworker.com/dept.asp?dept_id 943
I am not experienced with these, but as much as I have read I know that the blue steel is superior, easy to sharpen and that edge lasts long.
There is also A-2 steel blades made by Hock Tools, Lie-Nielson and Veritas (http://www.leevalley.com/).
A-2 is known for holding an edge a very long time, very tough, but it is also hard to sharpen and can't quite attain as sharp an edge as high carbon steel, the latter of the two is what I prefer most, as long as a whole blade will last anyway.
With the Japanese laminated blades, what I dislike is the thickness of 5/64".
Hock HCS is superior and thicker, RC 62, and easy to sharpen a serious edge: http://www.craftsmanstudio.com/ http://www.hocktools.com /
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Colonel wrote:

I have an old stanley # 51 spokeshave with one of these blades. I've used it to remove lacquer from and old chairwood piece, and to shape the chairwood into a bowsaw handle. The chairwood is something very hard, and I've since used the spokeshave on other more pedestrian woods and it cuts as clean as the day I last honed it. Very nice blade, a modern stanley/buck/BorgFlavorOfTheDay blade is no comparison.
I'd like to try some chisels made this way.
er
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