sharp/dull blade drawing Clifton small map
Finest abrasives.
Microbevels front and back.
Use a jig.
Copyright (c) 2002-15, Brent Beach

Test Summary

A high carbon steel blade, Clifton sells these blades with their Bailey style line of planes as well as as replacement blades. While the durability of this blade is not much different from other high carbon steel blades, it continues to perform well at levels of wear at which other blades fail. The subjective feel of this blade even when worn suggests that blade thickness is an important part of overall quality.

Pro: With measured durability similar to other high carbon steel blades, the extra thickness provides a better than average subjective planing experience.
  1. Too thick to be used in most planes. Unless the mouth is at least 0.18" wide, the blade cannot be used.
  2. The advertising sucks. They claim the blade can be used without honing. The final grit used on the blade I bought appeared to be around 220. This can hardly leave an edge ready for use. [See first picture below]
  3. They further suggest the use of their thick cap iron improves performance. This iron is thick enough that it could be used without any cap iron if there was another way to transfer force to the lower part of the blade in use. A heavy cap iron is unlikely to provide any gains.

The Test

August 2004.

During this test I was attempting to achieve one other goal - find a way to deduce the shape of the front and back wear bevels. [See an extended version of this test an extended version of this test here.] I changed the sharpening procedure, omitting the 0.5 micron microbevels on front and back. This means the iron had slightly smaller final bevel angles on the front and back.

The thickness of the iron meant that the blade had to be tested in a Record plane with a suitably wide mouth. This plane was used in testing other thick blades and performs very well. (The plane is a fairly recent model, with blond hardwood knob and tote.)

The back of the iron, 200 X magnification, as delivered. Would you plane with this blade? original back
The front bevel, 200 X magnification, after the 5 micron paper.

The scratches from the 5u abrasive go right to the edge. The second goal of this test was to more clearly see the wear bevels. Having the scratches clearly visible helped with this.

The original grind is just visible at the right. The dark area is the first microbevel using 15u abrasive.

sharp blade
The front bevel, 200 X magnification, after 100 passes along 4 foot douglas-fir board.

Very narrow wear bevel, about 4 pixels wide, with good edge quality.

100 passes
The front bevel, 200 X magnification, after 200 passes.

The wear bevel is about 10 pixels wide, the edge is still smooth.

While the wear bevel is not particularly small at this point in the test, the blade is still performing very well. I attribute this to the thickness of the blade and its resulting resistance to flex during use.

200 passes


Check out my jig page for a simple jig you can make in your shop, along with a sharpening set up using sheet abrasives, that reliably produces excellent edges, for all types of irons.

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