At Veritas Tools, we design from scratch. Each product we develop involves the consideration of new concepts, new materials, and new manufacturing processes. We want the tools we design to be innovative and provide excellent value for our customers.
Woodworkers have long searched for the acme of tool steels. Often a topic of lively debate, there is a wide variety of tool steels to choose from – a veritable alphabet soup of letters and numbers of which M2, O1, M4, CPM-3V, A2, and D2 are just a few.
Our goal was to find a steel for Veritas manufactured cutting tools that would not only deliver excellent performance over a range of applications, but would add value for amateur and professional woodworkers alike.
We started with a long list of candidates and narrowed them down to 21 steels/heat treatment combinations. Each of these combinations was then extensively tested for:
ease and speed of sharpening
As different applications may require different bevel angles, the tests (for all 21 metals) were repeated with blade bevel angles of 20°, 25°, 30° and 35°. To ensure that the observations were not skewed by atypical samples, each test was repeated with multiple blades. Many months of testing generated an extensive set of data for analysis.
Some interesting facts from our testing:
We took over 5600 digital microscope photos to measure and evaluate blade performance
We created wood shavings that, if connected end to end, would stretch 1.6 miles (2.6 km)
We chopped through a total of 10 feet (3 metres) of oak
We ground the equivalent of two complete plane blades to dust
Our engineers got cut only once!
Once the analyses were complete, one metal emerged as the clear winner: PM-V11.
The PM-V11 alloy was the most durable metal tested on the impact test, and finished a close second on our wear testing. Of critical importance to us (and to you) is that blades made from the PM-V11 alloy can be sharpened with common abrasive media such as water stones. It takes a bit longer than O1, but PM-V11 blades sharpen slightly faster than A2.
About the PM-V11 Alloy and Powdered Metals
PM-V11 is a powdered metal (PM) alloy. To form a PM alloy, constituent metals are melted and mixed together, then atomized, creating very small particles that cool and harden, forming a powder. This powder is screened to ensure consistent particle size, and then heated under pressure to form a billet. The billet is then rolled to the required thickness, ready to process as a conventionally smelted steel would be. The PM process yields a steel with a very fine grain structure that is uniform throughout.
So how do PM-V11 Blades Perform?
When we gave test blades to a group of woodworkers, the feedback was uniformly positive (bordering on ecstatic in some cases). They reported that in day-to-day use PM-V11 blades readily sharpened to a keen edge that cut cleanly and remained sharp for much longer than O1 or A2 steel blades. They didn’t need a scanning electron microscope or an advanced degree in metallurgy to know this was simply a better blade material.
Veritas PM-V11 Plane Blades
Among woodworkers, hand plane users are arguably the most demanding of their tools. After all, one of the uses of hand planes is to produce surfaces that are ready for finish and reflect the level of craftsmanship that has gone into the project.
To achieve finish-quality surfaces, a sharp edge on your plane blade is critical; however, maintaining a sharp edge can be time consuming, even with the appropriate sharpening equipment. All woodworkers have wrestled with the question of when to stop planing with a blade and invest the time in sharpening it before continuing.
With Veritas PM-V11 plane blades, we have hit the sweet spot in balancing performance and ease of sharpening (and of course cost).
Like all Veritas O1 and A2 blades, PM-V11 blades are fully lapped and ready for final honing.
Veritas PM-V11 Chisels
Chisels are the workhorses of woodworking tools. Chisel applications vary from being struck with a mallet to remove large amounts of material to delicate hand paring.
When evaluating alloys for chisel blades, we recognized that chisels have inherently conflicting requirements. A chisel blade must withstand impact loads without chipping or deforming. This suggests a high bevel angle to provide maximum material to absorb the impact. Conversely, to finely pare, a low bevel angle is needed to give optimal results.
With PM-V11, we’ve found a material that performs well in both applications. Veritas PM-V11 chisels have superior impact resistance capabilities, yet can also be honed to a low micro-bevel angle (20°) for paring.