It is very important to use the right tools in every woodworking project. The right tools can help you improve the result, while saving much of your effort and time. However, picking the right tools is not just about how that tool can help you. It is also about picking the best made tool.
You surely don’t want your tool to break or stop working while you are still in the middle of your project. You need something that will last and work perfectly.
Ductile cast iron can be your solution. The solid structure will keep the tool from breaking apart or even damaging your project. But, there are so many things else about ductile cast iron that make this tool a perfect choice for your woodworking project.
The Secret behind Ductile Cast Iron
The last 150 years have provided us with extensive knowledge and experience on woodworking tools. We’ve managed to create various planes and learn from each of them. As the time goes, we finally understand something. Instead of relying on only one material, why not combining several materials to make the best material out of it? The key lies in metallurgy, a unique discipline that allows us to make stronger material than we already have.
We are quite impressed to know that some products have managed to incorporate ductile cast iron into their products. Many chisel plane and low-angle block plane today are made from ductile cast iron. Both of them, as we’ve predicted, never fails to amaze woodworkers.
Of course, there is a reason behind that high satisfaction level. All ductile cast iron contains graphite particles. These unique particles, with their various shapes, is the key behind the amazing mechanical properties of ductile cast irons.
Gray iron is the most popular type of ductile cast iron. In gray iron, the graphite particles are present in flake-like shape. This allows the particles to promote crack propagation and concentrate stress. In other words, gray cast iron is quite brittle. That what makes it less preferable for a long-lasting tool. It will quickly crack once you drop it onto your shop floor. When that happens, there is nothing you can do to fix it. Buying a new one is the only option.
No one wants to use a tool like this. No one wants their tool to easily crack and no longer can be used. So, in 1940s, it was decided at the INCO (International Nickel Company) Research Lab in Bayonne, New Jersey that the world requires a better cast iron. This task was later assigned to Keith Dwight Millis. After learning various possibilities, he approached his superior, Mr. Norman Pilling and proposed some elements that could solve the problem.
His superior accepted the proposal, but under one condition. Mr. Millis should proceed with the project at his own risk. His experiment, with no doubt, is a very hazardous operation. However, despite giving up, he agreed to take this challenge. Later, in one of his experiment, he found out that adding magnesium to cast iron could be the answer. So, he added a copper-magnesium alloy to the iron. What he found out later solved the problem. The resultant reacted with the copper-magnesium alloy and created ball-shaped particles, instead of flakes. This only meant one thing. The world had finally got the answer.
This extraordinary finding soon change the world of woodworking. The ball-shaped particles in ductile cast iron can evenly distribute the stress and provide crack formation. The nodular iron, a name later given to the new iron, finally provides our desired ductility and strength. It solves the nightmare we used to deal with the gray iron. No more tension relief and creep. No more breaking if you accidentally dropped it onto your shop floor. It is light like an iron, yet strong enough like a steel. You can even compare its shock resistance to a mild carbon steel. It’s light, yet strong enough to deal with various woodworking projects. By simply adding copper-magnesium alloy, Mr. Millis has provided us with the answer we’d been looking for long. Without him, we might be still looking for the answer and breaking our cast iron every time we drop it.