Premium Blade Set
Upgrading a blade and chipbreaker can turn a pretty good plane into a dream tool. If you’ve been thinking about buying a premium plane, here’s an alternative plan: Get an old Stanley, tune it up, and replace its blade and chipbreaker with this new set from IBC/Pinnacle. You’ll be amazed at what an old tool can do.
We sure were. When we put the IBC set in an old smooth plane, we noticed a big improvement in the tool’s performance. The plane felt much more solid, and we were able to make tissue-thin shavings with ease.
A standard blade and chipbreaker can perform quite well in a tuned-up old plane, and may be all you need. But when the going gets tough—when you’re planing figured maple, for example—a standard blade may chatter or tear out the grain. For this kind of work, you need a thick blade that will retain its edge plus a stiff chipbreaker, equivalent to the irons in a premium plane.
The IBC/Pinnacle blade and chip breaker are the thickest available for Stanley and other Bailey-style planes. Extra thickness helps fight chatter, but up until now you couldn’t use a blade thicker than .100" in one of those planes, because the plane’s depth-of-cut adjusting lever couldn’t accommodate it. IBC has teamed with plane expert Rob Cosman to come up with an elegant modification of the chipbreaker that allows you to use a very thick blade.
The IBC blade is .140" thick, over 85% thicker than a vintage Stanley blade. It’s made from state-of-the-art A-2 tool steel, hardened to 60-62 HRc and cryogenically treated. It will hold an edge much longer than that vintage blade. The IBC chipbreaker is made from O-1 tool steel and is .125" thick, for added stiffness.
There is one catch to using the IBC blade: You’ll probably have to widen the plane’s mouth, using a file, to accommodate the blade’s thickness. That’s not hard, though; instructions are included with the blade set. The back of the blade is very flat, but will probably require additional lapping and polishing. But if you create a back bevel, you’ll be ready to go right away.
Matched sets of blades and chipbreakers are available in 1-3/4", 2" and 2-3/8" widths for Stanley planes #3 through #7. These sets will also fit other vintage professional-grade planes, such as Millers Falls, Keen Kutter and Stanley Bedrock.
Woodraft Supply, woodcraft.com, 800-225-1153, Pinnacle/IBC Matched Chip Breaker and Blade Set, 1-3/4" wide, #150812, $99.99; 2" wide, #150813, $99.99; 2-3/8" wide, #150814, $104.99.