Improving my letterbox IQ

Just a quick note really.  I returned the borrowed copy of Ron Hock’s “The Perfect Edge”, get home and find the copy I ordered from Amazon in the letterbox.  Heh: Timing!

A New Bible

Bi·ble n. A book considered authoritative in its field

There are many, many (many, many, many!) books out there about aspects of woodworking.  Only a very few are worthy of being elevated to the point that they can be regarded as a bible in their selected field.

Ron Hock is one of “The” authorities on sharpening, blade making, and steel processes that makes his new book “The Perfect Edge” one that should not only be read cover to cover (multiple times), but owned and consulted regularly by any woodworker who is serious about his craft, and/or works with edged tools and/or likes their tools working at an optimum level.

The book is beautifully presented, and absolutely jam-packed with well presented information.

If I seem a bit enthusiastic about this book, you are right – I only flicked through a few pages of a friend’s copy before I was on Amazon, and have ordered my own.  (It is on special at the moment for $US19, yet this is a full sized, hardback, 224 page, colour book – great price!)

Ron Hock in brief summary, started off making carving knives.  His blades were so popular, he became highly sort after for his blades and steel, and so moved into making plane blades and associated chip breakers etc.  In recent times, he has returned to where he started, producing a set of carving knives (that have previously featured on this site).

But it is his in-depth knowledge of steel, and particularly where it is relevant to forming, and holding a razor-sharp edge which has been so well interpreted and translated into this tome.

The topics covered are very comprehensive, from the internal structure of steel, through heat treating, the science behind a sharp edge, through to how to achieve that for yourself.  Ron understands the metallurgy of steel, and it is presented in a style that will give you an insight into the topic, and why I have long been fascinated by it.

The book has over 400 photos, charts and illustrations, ensuring the points and concepts are well made, and understood.

This is the bible on sharpening (along with Lie-Nielsen’s Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Sharpening).  If you but remember a fraction of this book, and put it into practice, your tools will be deadly sharp, and a pleasure to use.

A2 vs O1 Tool Steel

The Wood Whisperer recently touched on this topic, and has a very comprehensive reply from Ron Hock which is worth the read. (Hock was mentioned on here recently for his new range of carving knives)

O1 Tools Steel is a low alloy steel that can produce a very fine, sharp edge with an oil quench (thus the “O”)
A2 Tool Steel has more alloys in it, can be “A”ir quenched, and can benefit from cryogenic treatment (see my article on Steel for more info).

So if you are choosing what material you want to have for your plane or chisel blades, definitely an article worth considering.

Hock Carving Knives

Ron Hock has long been renowned for producing superior blades for planes, and his approach is based on a strong understanding of the metallurgy involved in producing high quality steel that is specifically suited to the purpose of plane blades.

But what is interesting to know, is producing high-carbon steel blades is not where he started.  It was making knives, and it came to be that his knowledge of steel lead him into focusing on plane blades.

It sounds like it was a long time coming then, but Ron has (finally) returned to where he started, and has released a set of carving knives that incorporate his high-carbon Rc62 blades in a Bubinga handle. These knives just make you want to take up carving (if you don’t already!) They are visually aesthetically pleasing, and you know beyond any doubt that they have the best possible steel blades incorporated into them.

Hock Carving Knives

Hock Carving Knives

This set has been sourced from Professional Woodworkers Supplies, and they can be purchased individually, or as a set of 5.

The knife range

The knife range

From left to right, they are:

1.25″ Stab Carving Knife (32mm Angled) High Carbon Steel
1.25″ Carving Knife (32mm Straight) High Carbon Steel
1.25″ Detail Knife (32mm Fine Point) High Carbon Steel
1″ Chip Carving Knife (25mm Offset) High Carbon Steel
1″ Carving Knife (25mm Straight) High Carbon Steel

Did I mention they are sharp?!

Blade Cover

Blade Cover

Speaking of which, each comes fitted with a piece of plastic tubing, which makes a good blade cover, to protect the blade if it happens to fall on the floor (and yourself if you do something silly (unless you happen to be using that particular blade at the time, but I guess that goes without saying….))

So if you are already a carver (or are interested in giving it a try), these knives are certainly worth having a good look at. (And they won’t break the bank).

Hock Carving Knives

Hock Carving Knives

And as an aside, if you have not heard of Hock Blades before, here are a couple of his YouTube videos, which are definitely worth watching.

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