My poor Sargent jointer plane. It’s been through a lot, and now this.
About a month ago, I got one of the new PM-V11 irons from Lee Valley for the jointer in anticipation of some heavy work with a bunch of knotty pine. (For those who don’t know, PM-V11 is a proprietary steel alloy developed by Lee Valley for cutting tools. It sharpens easily, but it holds a keen edge for a very long time compared to other kinds of steels, such as o1 and A2.) The old aftermarket iron that was in the plane when I bought it just wasn’t holding an edge, and this seemed like the best replacement option on the market.
The new iron is thick, so it was tricky to fit it to the chipbreaker. I had to plane the chipbreaker on the iron but perpendicular to it, thread the screw in, and then rotate the iron and chipbreaker in opposite directions to get the chipbreaker up on the iron. My initial tests of the iron’s edge retention were very promising, so I set to work planing down my stock.
I had a couple boards planed up nicely when I needed to change the depth of cut and ran into problems. The depth adjustment on this plane has always been a little sticky, so I didn’t think much about the fact that it was even harder to move than usual, and all of a sudden, the yoke snapped in two!
It took me some time to figure out what had happened. When I replaced the old iron, I had to file the lateral adjuster a little to get it to fit into the new iron’s slot. But I made a mistake. I filed the sides of the depth adjuster, but I didn’t file the end enough, so when I moved the adjuster over, it jammed in the slot and would not allow the cutter assembly to move up and down. So the cast-iron yoke gave way.
I did the only thing I knew to do: I posted pictures of my broken part to the Hand Tools forum on WoodNet. Within a couple days, I had a fellow member offer a replacement yoke and another fellow member offer to install the yoke for me if I would ship him the parts. He also modified the lateral adjustment mechanism so it properly fit the slot on the new iron.
Once the repair was done, I put everything back together again, and it works beautifully. Unfortunately, it took me a couple weeks to get it fixed, and by that time, I had finished the knotty pine project using another hand plane. So the PM-V11 iron is still waiting for its first full workout.
Lessons learned include the following:
- It’s good to be part of a community of kind people.
- Don’t force the adjustment mechanism on a tool.
- It’s good to have one or two spare tools on hand.
- This plane isn’t dead yet. It has a replacement lever cap, a repaired tote, about 60% of its original japanning, and now a new depth adjustment yoke and it’s second replacement iron.