A Review: The Kell Honing Guide

The Kell Honing Guide
The Kell Honing Guide

I’ve probably been down every sharpening rabbit hole that exists. I’m always searching for the ultimate in terms of edge maintenance. It’s not all about the keenest edge possible. For me, it’s just as important to have a system that’s quick and easy to use. I’ve had a great system for my plane irons for a while. However, I’ve never been satisfied with the various systems I’ve tried for chisel maintenance.

For a while, I used the Veritas Mk II honing guide. It worked great, but that was fussy and took too long to setup. I turned to a cheap Eclipse knock-off guide to simplify setup. I still use it for my plane irons, but it tends to skew my chisels and doesn’t work for my narrowest blades. Next, I braved the world of free-hand sharpening. I had consistency issues, and felt that I had to regrind more often. This is due to the fact that you’re removing material from both the edge and the heal of the bevel instead of just the edge. It was about this time that someone recommended the Kell honing guide.

A quick registration jig for the Kell Honing Guide
A quick registration jig for the Kell Honing Guide

I was hesitant at first , due to the initial cost. On a whim, I made the short trip down to Highland Hardware and picked one up. I quickly fell in love. Using a simple stop block, it’s every bit as simple as the Eclipse style guides. It’s exceptionally well made, and always holds my blades square. It even works with my 1/8th inch chisel. My only complaint is that the design limits you to using the center part of your sharpening stones. As a result, beware of uneven stone wear and keep on top of your stone maintenance. Did I mention that this thing is beautiful?

Kell3 Web

I have no affiliation with Mr. Kell or Highland Hardware, but the jig can be found here: http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/kellhoningjig1incapacity.aspx

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2 thoughts on “A Review: The Kell Honing Guide

  1. Patrick, I have found the Kell jig to be of very limited use, primarily because it is so small and attaches at the extreme front end of the tool to be sharpened. There is also nowhere to place your fingers to hold the thing. It is pretty good for that little chisel in your photo. It is nicely made. Mr. Kell is certainly a skilled machinist. Because it has such limited use and is pricey, I can’t agree with your recommendation.

    If you can find a genuine Eclipse brand jig (look at eBay U.K.), you will see why it is the best general purpose jig made. The cheap copies just don’t measure up and that’s why you were dissatisfied with yours.

    • Michael,

      I apologize for the delayed response. I had typed up a comment, but apparently forgot to hit send. I agree, that the original Eclipse guides are wonderful, but I have a hard time finding them here. When you can find them, they’re usually as much as the Kell. I find that the Kell takes a bit getting used to, but it works great on anything from very narrow chisels to chisels up to 1″. I wrote a companion article that details how I hold the guide.

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