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I use hand planes quite a lot and give each one a special role to play. My ensemble of metal planes includes long and short, wide and narrow, expensive, but also dirt cheap eBay bought and later restored by me. As a rule of thumb, the broader the surface you need to plane is, the wider the plane to deploy. Small planes are for short surfaces, edges, chamfering, and end-grain. Most importantly – I make sure to have a freshly-sharpened blade when facing the challenges of figured or crazy grained wood and I make sure to close the plane’s mouth tight to help it traverse those tricky terrains flawlessly.
One of my beloved planes is the Stanley 6-¼ in. Low Angle Block Plane from one of the last batches that were made in Sheffield England. This eBay-bought plane has a lot going on for it: Great size (narrow but long enough), an adjustable throat plate, a low angle blade, a convenient blade advancement/retraction mechanism and let’s not forget – a smart lateral adjustment feature.
The only problem with this plane is its mundane quality blade which requires frequent sharpening.
A few years ago I bought for my plane an aftermarket blade from Lee Valley. Curious by their new type of high-quality blades made from some mysterious alloy that could have easily been mentioned in one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, the PM-V11 was purported to be the holy grail of blades steel. Tough, hard, and not that difficult to sharpen, this carbide-steel concoction of sort showed great potential so I ordered one and gave it a try.
After a few years of using it, I have to say that I love this blade. It is exactly what it claims to be.
To me, the two most important things in a blade are the ability to bring it to optimal sharpness quickly without the fear that the keen edge will crumble, like in some A2 blades, and the second criterion is to have the edge’s sharpness last as long as possible in between honing.
The Veritas blade has nicely fulfilled both these criteria and improved the joyful use and long-term sharpness efficacy of my trusted Stanly block plane.
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