Honing Guide

I use the Veritas with the narrow guide on both Japanese and Veritas chisels down to 1/8" an have no problems at all. I've had the Kell, both large and small, and while they do clamp narrow chisels I found them very fiddly to get the chisel clamped properly and I never found the proper way to hold them - there's not a lot of real estate for your grip. I'm sure it must have been me since lots of people like them. Just didn't work for me. I also tried the LN guide. Well designed and easy to use but it's definitely designed for LN tools. Anything else, some worked ok, some worked marginally. LN tells you that up front so no complaints. As in all things, YMMV.

‘The problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence
Charles Bukowski
(03-31-2023, 03:17 PM)Jack01 Wrote: Thanks for all the feedback, very helpful

Looks like Lie Nielson honing guide with addition of Narrow jaws can sharpen narrow chisels well
Lie Nielson Honing guide $ 150 + Narrow Jaws $ 45 = $ 195

Other option will be Lee Valley MK II guide plus Narrow guide   $ 75 + $ 55 = $ 130.00

Third option is interesting “ Kell Honing Guide  which can do Narrow chisel 1/8 th to plane Iron 2.5 inches wide   approximately $ 125.00  I only found one source in USA.

Now I have decide which one.

Just came across this Honing Guide from Bridge City Tool works


Interesting concept,   I am sure this is Chinese made.
(03-26-2023, 02:37 PM)Jack01 Wrote: Looking for a new Honing guide, see what woodworkers are using on this forum

I have a generic Honing guide which is tuned and works good, but not good on small chisels. 
I have wet Jet grinder which is also limited on small chisels. 

Looking for any suggestions.

If your generic guide is "tuned and works good," then I don't think you will gain much with the Lie-Nielsen guide.  I have both and the Lie-Nielsen works better for holding chisels, but the price difference is dramatic.

I bought the original Veritas guide, which everyone raved about at the time (20 years ago?) and found it nearly impossible to use.  As you tighten the bolt on top, the blade twists.  It was very frustrating, but I was so new I didn't understand the problem.  I find it amazing they even continue to sell that guide.  I have had much better luck with side clamping guides.  For example, many old plane blades are trapezoids (sides are not parallel), which works fine with the side clamping guides, but would probably not work well with the Veritas Mk. II.

For very narrow chisels, I use the Kell Guide, which I ordered directly from Richard Kell and he shipped to my house in the US.  Get the one with the large wheels because the small wheels pick up whatever honing fluid you use and cause filings to get trapped on the inside of the wheel.

For chisels about 3/8" and wider I use a scary sharp with a honing guide I call the "single point honing guide".  I have three different sizes for blades of different lengths.  That guide works really well, but requires the guide to run on glass or some other smooth surface.

I know you didn't ask, but there are many benefits to ditching the honing guides.

Honing guides make more sense for slow cutting media. They make more sense for wider blades that take longer to hone. I also get why people like them for narrow chisels.

FWIW: I don't really think wide blades should generally have straight edges. Only exception are what I call "fitting planes" rabbets, dadoes, jointers. Jointers are really the exception due to their wide blades. Rabbets and dadoes are usually the size of chisels.

Blades that are curved (radiuses) have advantages for stock prep and smoothing, but I think blades with rounded bevels (in x-section) are also advantageous, as you can roll on that bevel to find the perfect cut when pairing (like carving tools are). Honing guides really make flat bevels.

I recall talking to Rob Lee's dad about this a long time ago.

1) I wondered if his micro bevel was an attempt to help woodworkers achieve the strength of a rounded bevel. He was well aware of rounded bevels and I think he felt they were superior (its a little more support close to the edge)
2) Regarding jigs in general, he thought honing guides were enablers. I feel like he would know. I feel like they have been detrimental. I also think edge tools absolutely do not need flat backs to be sharp or sharpenable. I feel like we've done ourselves no favors with so much emphasis on flat backed tools.
(04-17-2023, 07:44 PM)adamcherubini Wrote: I know you didn't ask, but there are many benefits to ditching the honing guides.

Adam, one of the things I have learned over time is that the entire sharpening system has to fit together.  For example, I use the 3M paper, which I believe only works because I can very accurately set the angle of the secondary bevel.  Some people use diamond, which requires stropping because diamonds aren't that fine.

Can you give us your current sharpening run down?

(04-18-2023, 06:56 AM)MarkWells Wrote: Adam, one of the things I have learned over time is that the entire sharpening system has to fit together.  For example, I use the 3M paper, which I believe only works because I can very accurately set the angle of the secondary bevel.  Some people use diamond, which requires stropping because diamonds aren't that fine.

Can you give us your current sharpening run down?


Agree Mark

Context: I'm doing general carpentry and light timber framing, not furniture, - so no fancy anything and I need robust, all weather, damage tolerant.

I have most of the available DMT Diasharp (diamond) plates. I freehand on them. The xx coarse is like a grinder. Too coarse for a back really. The xx fine isn't fine enough as you say, so I've substituted a Spyderco ceramic stone for my translucent Arkansas to finish. That ceramic stone doesn't have the feel of the Arkansas, but I can easily use it dry, which is helpful when it's tool cold for water. I always strop with leather charged with the green crayon (Chromium Oxide). I think I use the extra fine and xx fine the most. Rare for me to start coarser, but I sharpen frequently (almost continuously).

One thing I don't hear discussed enough is the matrix that holds the grit. That's my problem with sand paper and water stones. When you are working a wide flat surface, anything can work. But when I try to use those sorts of stones etc with curved irons, I dig holes or tear sand paper. Not the coarser stuff mind you, but the really fine stuff. I tried a shapton, but didn't really like it. But that seems like that would be a fit for me. I tried using the mylar backed abrasive films. I liked them. But I tore those.

Obviously there are a bunch of ways to sharpen and no wrong answers. I guess my only point is: sooner or later one may wish to hone a curved edge. When that day comes, I personally struggled with some of the popular sharpening solutions.
Adam, you said many things I agree with, so I want to show how I solve those problems.  I basically taught myself, along with email conversation with Brent Beach, so sometimes I wonder if I'm way out in left field.

My honing guide is a block of wood that rides on the glass.  I set the honing angle with another block of wood like this:


The honing guide actually rides just on one point, so it doesn't have to be square to the blade.  It's a cross between hand sharpening and using a rigid guide. 


Riding on single point also means I can hone blades with a heavy camber like a jack plane blade.

To create a microbevel, I put a slip of wood under the guide.


You said the back doesn't have to be flat and I agree.  With this guide I flip the guide over and hone like this.  The top of the guide also has a point.  I don't use a slip under the back and I only hone the back using 5 micron and 0.5 micron film.  Unlike the ruler trick, the back is at the same angle every time.


You will see that the abrasive above is torn.  I showed this on purpose.  It happens, especially when working the back and what I'm showing here is as bad as it gets.  The finest abrasives tear the most.  However, you can see that the honing guide has so much travel that I just work around the tears.

I don't think these abrasive films would work well for honing by hand because they can tear and because they get used up.  However, using this honing guide I'm actually removing very little metal at each sharpening, so the film lasts a long time.  That's why this torn film is still in my setup.  I have spent less on film over many years than I would have one one set of stones.

I tried using the same back bevel technique on a chisel and that was a Bad Idea because I couldn't use the back of the chisel as a guide for paring.  So for chisels I work the back flat, hanging the chisel, with the honing guide still attached, off the edge of the glass.

You also mentioned the speed of the abrasive, which I think is a very good point that is often overlooked.  If the abrasive removes material very quickly, then it takes just a couple of strokes (or a split second at the grinder) and holding an exact position for an extended period of time is not necessary.  But if the abrasive is very slow, then it helps to have some way to keep the blade in position as you work.  For some craftsmen what keeps the blade in position is skill.  For people like me, it's a block of wood.

After I read what I wrote, it sounds like I have this all figured out.  The truth is that I'm always wondering if there is a better technique.  I timed myself the other day.  I started with a blade in the plane, sharpened it, cleaned up, and had the blade ready to put back in the plane in about 7 minutes, which is longer than the "2-3 minutes" advertised by many.  I know for myself when I use this technique that I can consistently produce a sharp, polished edge that lasts a long time, but the idea of not spending time setting the honing guides sounds great, especially for chisels.  

If its working Mark, you are good. The concern I'd express to someone else would be, those tears are happening because the edge is "submarining" into the matrix (paper) which isn't great. That's the problem with soft matrix media. Non-flat media have the same problem. The solution offered many years ago by Mike Dunbar was side to side honing. Side honing works, but the scratches are non-advantageous structurally and there's other weird things that can happen with steel that I'll let some one else explain, but the key word is edge "morphology".

Personally, I think your approach and jig would work better on diamond plates. And there'd be less mess, less setup, do it anywhere etc. I think we should add the following metrics to our sharpening methodologies:
- Does it make the tool sharp - (pretty sure we all share that one)
- How long does it take including set up? (I think most of us share this)
- Can it be done adjacent to your project on your work bench? Is it ok if whatever you are spraying gets on your work? Or splashes?
- Are you happy to hone twice an hour when working?
(04-19-2023, 12:51 PM)adamcherubini Wrote: Personally, I think your approach and jig would work better on diamond plates. And there'd be less mess, less setup, do it anywhere etc.

I appreciate your suggestions and insight.  My problem is this sent me down a rabbit hole.  My jig needs to run on glass, so I did some thinking about how that could work.  Maybe stick Atoma to glass?  Then to DMT vs Atoma.  Then to what to use for polishing.  Then to how to flatten a Spyderco stone without wasting a diamond stone.  Then to maybe I should just use waterstones.  Then I realized I should just be in the shop instead of Googling. 

There's something about sharpening that tends to do this to me.  I think it's the vast number of options and opinions combined with results that are difficult to measure.

Atoma.  That part is solved.  
Big Grin  I sold my DMT and went all Atoma after the first Atoma that I tried.
It's all wood.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.