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1. Why do you make many of your tools out of Bronze?
Manganese Bronze is a very hard, strong alloy which wears very well, unlike brass and softer bronzes. We prefer this bronze to iron for small planes because it's heavier, it doesn't rust, won't crack if dropped and has wonderful warmth in the hand. We use iron when the extra weight is not welcome.
2. How do you make your blades?
The blade is the most important part of a hand plane. Our blades are thicker, sometimes much thicker, than other manufacturers’ for a solid cut. They are hardened at Rockwell 60-62, to provide a long lasting blade. Careful heat treatment involves a 20-hour soak at -320º F (cryogenics) and double tempering. This results in a fine grain structure which allows the blade to take a very fine edge. The final step is a full surface grinding of the top, back and cutting edge, giving a smooth flat surface requiring little honing before use.
To learn more about Cryogenics, read "Why you should freeze your tools" from Popular Woodworking Magazine, used by permission. Click here to download PDF of the article.
3. I want to purchase a plane but don't know where to start, what are your suggestions?
Our Core Tool concept can help demystify the world of hand tools for people who are just getting started with hand tool woodworking.
4. How do you pronounce "Lie-Nielsen"?
Lie-Nielsen, a Norwegian name, is pronounced "Lee-Neelsen".
5. My Bronze-bodied tool sometimes leaves marks on the wood. What should I do?
Bronze bodied planes will sometimes leave a mark on your work, especially if they have not been used for some time. In our experience, some people find this marking an intractable problem, others aren't bothered. It should only be a concern with a finishing cut on light wood. With tools used for that sort of work, keep the sole well waxed to minimize marking (of course wax may interfere with some finishes). Alternatively, using the tool enough to wear off (polish) the oxidation on the sole should prevent marks when you don't want them.
6. Can I have another copy of the Instructions, Care and Maintenance sheet that came with my Lie-Nielsen tool?
Instructions can be found under the ‘USE’ tab for most tools on the website.
7. What's so special about the Ductile Iron used for all your iron body tools?
Ductile Iron, also called Nodular, is a specific formula iron alloy, specially processed to produce castings of great strength, approaching that of structural steel, and ductility or elasticity. For the woodworker this means that the tool will not break if dropped on the cement floor, something that happens all too often.
I had heard good things about Ductile Iron and liked the way it machined, so I decided to see how tough our planes are. I took a machined No. 5 body casting out in the shop and threw it up to the 14-foot ceiling. The casting bounced on the cement floor but was not damaged. I did this many times but only succeeded in dinging it up.
Then I laid it on its side on the floor and went after the unsupported top edge of the side with a 10-pound sledge hammer, putting some effort behind it. It did bend. A little. These castings will not break. I guarantee it.
8. About Lie-Nielsen Toolworks
To read a definitive article on the origin of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, download this article from Furniture and Cabinetmaking. Used by permission. Click here to download a PDF of the article.
9. What are Toothed Blades used for?
There are actually two kinds of Toothed irons. The Scraper irons have a 'V'-shaped tooth, the Bench and Block plane irons have a series of small square teeth. It's been our experience that Bench and Block plane Toothed irons are relatively uncommon, but are favored by instrument makers. Toothed blades for Scrapers are better known.
In the Scraper they are used to rough up a surface, either as a prep for veneering or to work down an area of difficult grain, after which the regular Scraper blade is used.
In Bench and Block planes, they are used to work areas of difficult grain, by planing diagonally across from one direction, then diagonally from the other direction. After which, the regular Smoothing blade is used. The Toothed blades reduce tearout, and the regular blade can usually finish the job (or you would switch to the Scraper). Both types of toothed blades leave a rough surface.
Both types are sharpened with a bevel just like any plane iron—just don't hone the top face of the 'V'-type scraper blades, or you will hone off the points that do the work.
10. Does storing a tool long-term in a leather case promote rust?
I do not think it is a good idea to store any metal object in a leather case for long periods without taking precautions- such as applying a thick coat of oil and wrapping in cloth, treated cloth, etc. Short term storage should not be a problem unless you live in a very humid area.