Save your time and get the real thing

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Review by wch posted 05-05-2010 09:23 AM 4736 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Save your time and get the real thing No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

On the Woodcraft website, this blade is branded Pinnacle, which is Woodcraft’s house brand, but it’s made by IBC and the blade has “IBC” printed on it. Apparently IBC used to make blades for Veritas, but they’ve recently started making planes under their own brand, and Woodcraft is making a marketing push for their new Pinnacle/IBC blades. This particular blade can be used in the Veritas bevel-up jointer, jack, and smoother.

I bought this blade because I was already ordering some stuff from Woodcraft, and I wanted a second blade for my Veritas bevel-up jack plane which I could hone at a steeper angle, for planing difficult wood. The blade cost a couple dollars more than a genuine Veritas blade from Lee Valley, but I figured that I’d save on shipping here, and possibly get a better blade. Better, you ask? Well, the IBC blade is made from cryogenically treated A2 steel, while the Veritas blade is non-cryogenic A2. There’s some debate on whether cryogenic treatment makes for a more durable blade. Some people say it helps; others say it doesn’t. (The people at Veritas aren’t yet convinced that it helps, and they’re pretty smart.)

The new blade looked pretty nice, but the back wasn’t flat. I spent a while flattening it with 180-grit sandpaper glued to glass. In about 40 minutes of flattening the back, I went through two pieces of 4×9” sandpaper, and it still wasn’t flattened to the corners. There was maybe 1-2 mm on each side where the sandpaper hadn’t touched it. Bear in mind that I was only flattening the front 3/4 inch or so; I wasn’t wasting effort by trying to flatten the entire blade. I should mention that I did this in two sessions. The first time, I gave up after about 25 minutes, and the second time I did about 15 more minutes—and it’s still not done. After the 180-grit sandpaper, I moved on to various finer stones, up to 8000 grit. With the 8000 grit stone, I used the “ruler trick” to speed things up. You can see in the photo that the polishing doesn’t reach to the corners. (Keep in mind that the photo is of the flat side of the blade, not the bevel side.)

In contrast, with the real Veritas blade, I started directly on 8000 grit and was done in a minute or two. The same is true of the one Lie-Nielsen blade that I have.

The blade durability seems good. I can’t compare it directly to my Veritas A2 blade because they’re sharpened at different angles, but the IBC blade seems at least as good.

Overall, I think this blade is a poor value, if your time is worth anything. It’s possible that the cryogenically-treated A2 steel is more durable than the regular Veritas A2 steel, but when I pay this much money, I expect that I won’t have to go through the tedium of flattening the blade and burning through sandpaper (and having to remove and glue down more sandpaper)—especially because it costs more than the Veritas blade. In short, I paid more, and what I got was the privilege of flattening a blade.

Last week I tried to post a similar review on Woodcraft’s web site, but for some reason it hasn’t shown up. I gave it three stars at the time. I gave it two stars here, because I’ve since gone through a second flattening session. While I was flattening the blade, I had plenty of time to think, and the cynical side of me suspects that Woodcraft is intentionally not posting bad reviews of their big new product. On the Woodcraft website right now, there’s a picture of Rob Cosman with his arms crossed, looking confidently into the camera, saying, “I’ll place these blades against any premium blades…” I did just that and found out that I should have stuck to the real deal.

Edit: One small thing I forgot to mention—the IBC blade is slightly thicker than the Veritas blade, at 4.85mm vs. 4.55mm. I doubt this has much of an effect in terms of performance, but I do know that when you switch between the two blades (which I do often), it sometimes requires a little extra fiddling with some screws. There’s a thumbscrew on the lever cap, and a flathead screw on the plane body that the lever cap hooks onto and pivots on. Normally when you remove the blade, you just use the thumbscrew. But since these blades are not quite the same thickness, when switching blades, sometimes the thumbscrew can’t be backed off enough to fit the other blade, so you have to turn the flathead screw a little. This can be done by hand (without a screwdriver), so it’s not a big deal, but it is one more step. I should mention that it’s possible to just back off the screw so that lever cap will always go on without fuss, but then that requires more turning of the thumbscrew, and I previously liked having the lever cap go on and off with minimal turning of the thumbscrew. I know this is a minor point, but one of the reasons I like this plane so much is because of its precision. And, again, for the price I paid, I don’t like that this blade makes things feel slightly out of whack. This wouldn’t be a problem if this were a plane where I just kept in one blade all the time, but that’s not how I use it—one of the advantages of the bevel-up design is that you can change the behavior of the plane just by swapping in a blade with a different bevel angle,.

View wch's profile


45 posts in 3727 days

9 comments so far

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 4072 days

#1 posted 05-05-2010 01:50 PM

Thanks for the review. I really appreciate you posting the picture too. Too bad you had to go through so much time flatening. I’ll stick to Veritas.

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 4463 days

#2 posted 05-05-2010 02:43 PM

Wow that must have been frustrating. Thats a long time at the paper. Having a non flat back is very bad for an after market blade. I would expect it to be pretty close to action ready when thats all you’re actually buying is a blade. Otherwise its really just a piece of steel isn’t it?

I’m curious about the cryogenic treatment. Do you suspect that the steel was extra hard because of this and that is why it was so difficult to flatten? Maybe there is something to the cryogenic treatment after all. If Veritas was to offer their blades with an option of cryogenic treatment for a couple bucks more it might be worth it. It might even be worth paying a couple bucks more for a cryogenic treatment on the IBC blade if it was FLAT!

Good Review man thanks for the heads up.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View PurpLev's profile


8572 posts in 4418 days

#3 posted 05-05-2010 03:02 PM

Thanks for the review. I love Veritas and LV hands down, and have personally had poor experience with my local woodcraft.

That said – to flatten irons, I never start at 180… but at 100 grit paper. 180 is a bit too fine to flatten anything in my experience. I’ve actually flattened the soles of a couple of planes and reestablished bevel/back on a few plane blades, and the 100 did a decent job – still some work had to be done (lots of metal to take off from the sole) but doable.

Another food for thought – if the blade was that badly shaped – you might have considered returning it for a replacement.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

454 posts in 3775 days

#4 posted 05-05-2010 03:50 PM

Looking at the prices for the IBC blades Cosman was showing off in that video last week, I would not expect to have to spend hours working on it.

I just got a 2” blade by Lei Nielsen I picked up from Ebay and it was flat and like a razor right out of the package.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View wch's profile


45 posts in 3727 days

#5 posted 05-05-2010 05:51 PM

In retrospect, I probably should have used a coarser sandpaper, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to have to use sandpaper at all for this blade. For a $3 Buck Bros. blade from Home Depot, sure, but not for a $40 blade. Also, probably part of the reason that it took so long is that, although the sandpaper (3M Sandblaster) cut quickly at first, after 15 seconds or so, it was much, much slower. That’s fairly typical in my experience.

@spaids: I don’t know if the cryogenic treatment made it harder to flatten – I don’t have any measurements of just how convex the blade was, so it could just be that the blade needed a lot of material ground away. I agree that if it were actually flat, the cryogenic treatment might be worth a couple bucks!

@PurpLev: The thought of returning it did cross my mind, but at first I figured it would be a quick job to flatten it (because of the advertising claims), and by the time I realized that it wasn’t, I’d already put all this work into it. I don’t know if they’d take back an obviously used blade without any trouble. I’d also have to go to the trouble of shipping it back, and I still wouldn’t have any assurance that the next one would be any better. If I had a Woodcraft store nearby, I’d definitely consider taking it back and checking the replacement for flatness in the store.

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4058 days

#6 posted 05-06-2010 01:47 AM

these blades are a bit harder to sharpen and in your case flaten the treatment does make the metal harder and the thicker the blade the less chance for chatter don’t know if you did your homework on that part of blade sharpening. Anyway the ends of the blade ore suposed to ground off so you leave no tracks when planeing. I think there a cool blade they give good proformance over my hocks and my regular stanley plane blades, i do want to get a lie nielson and see how they hold up as for the cryo treatment giving a longer edge life i see this too in the hocks and pinnacle blades but i don’t do much planeing in projects yet. My next project i will have to use one of my planes as much as i can and see what happens. Well sorry to hear you had a bad experience they did make my work alot better after being tuned the most time ispent on it was about 30 mins cuz i have quite a few planes to sharpen other than that and draining my bank acc. just as any other tool/tools would these are the only set back i found. Good Luck on your next purchase! As for the review you sent to woodcraft i would try to send an email to rob cosman i do have some words for him too but that’s another story. ;)

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View Chinitorama's profile


105 posts in 4068 days

#7 posted 07-08-2010 06:09 PM

I wonder if Pinnacle uses rotary lapping on their blades? Apparently LN and Veritas use this process and it’s the main reason their blades are so easy to flatten.


View Jon_Banquer's profile


69 posts in 3578 days

#8 posted 09-17-2010 10:44 AM

What makes A2 harder to sharpen is the make up of the material itself. A2 has more Chromium in it than O1 or 02 steel does. Cryogenics is just use to stabilize the metal so it doesn’t “move”. There is little or no difference in the Rockwell hardness that either O1, O2 or A2 can be hardened to. A2’s real advantage is the fact it doesn’t “move” like O1 or O2 so you can leave less material on before sending it to heat treating. This means when you get it back from heat treating you can finish the part faster because less material has to come off when surface grinding.

Hope this helps,

Jon Banquer
CAD/CAM Programmer / CNC machinist
San Diego, CA

-- Jon Banquer San Diego, CA CAD / CAM programmer, CNC Machinist

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3899 days

#9 posted 12-27-2010 01:55 AM


I just bought a Woodriver #4 . Its the new v3 improved version. Its actually flat unlike earlier versions. The blade is crap however, and very briefly I toyed with the idea of putting one of the Pinnacle irons in it. That is now out of the question and I’m returning it and ordering a Veritas plane. Thanks for the post.

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