'tis better to have tools you don't need than to need tools you don't have

Posted: Dec 29, 2013

Hock O-1 Blades & Chipbreakers

A great improvement over stock parts

Available in a variety of sizes, both individually and as sets, from Amazon

I always tell my kids not to get anything for me for Christmas, especially tools and other workshop-related stuff. They have no idea what to get and I'd hate to tell them that I can't really use what they got.

However, this year, I stumbled across some Hock blades on Amazon. I've been meaning to try a set for years now and this was a matched blade and chipbreaker (cap iron) set for only $60. So I suggested a 2" set for my 1940's Stanley #4 and happily unwrapped it on Christmas morning.

The set I got is made from O-1 high-carbon tool steel. They're also available in cryogenically-treated A-2 steel, which is supposed to hold an edge longer, for about $10 more. Chipbreakers (individually and in sets) come with a thumbscrew.

I guess tip #1 is that these blades are shipped razor-sharp, so be careful. I just barely bumped my thumb on the corner of the blade, but that was enough to draw blood.

Comparing the blades, there isn't much if any difference in the physical dimensions vs the stock blade. The chipbreaker, on the other hand, is absolutely massive compared to the standard one. I've tried the blade out on a variety of hard and soft woods and haven't had the slightest bit of chatter, which I attribute to the mass of the chipbreaker (that's its job, if you didn't know).

The overall results have been terrific. With only the tiniest bit of adjusting, I was quickly able to produce whisper-thin shavings, you can see one in the photo.

I want to do some more experimenting with the chipbreaker position and edge angle, but so far I'm very impressed with the Hock blade. Yes, it's a bit pricey but it really improved the performance of my #4 and should last many years. If you already have a blade you're happy with, you might want to take one of Hock's chipbreakers for a spin.

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