Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust

Going against the grain

Tag: honing guide

Review – The Lie Nielsen Honing Guide

Sharpening is not my favorite task.  I prefer working wood to working tools.  However, now and then you need to grease the machine.  I’m always looking for ways of speeding up the process, so that I can get back to work as quickly as possible.  As a result, I’ve purchased a few sharpening jigs throughout the years.

First, it was the Veritas MKII.  It’s a nice jig, but it has a couple of major weaknesses.  Your blades can skew during use, and using the registration jig slows down the process.  So, I sold the MKII and purchased a cheap Eclipse-style side-clamping jig.  This solved the problem of blade skew and worked well for most plane irons.  However, it never held my chisels square and was poorly made.  I kept the Eclipse, but purchased a Kell honing guide for my chisels.  The Kell jig is beautiful and works well for chisels.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to hold with certain blades.  Additionally, it required two different setups for chisels and plane irons.  Enter the Lie Nielsen honing guide.

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At first, I hesitated to give it a shot due to its price.  At $125, the Lie Nielsen honing guide is pricey.  Lie Nielsen offers several additional “jaws” to support many different tools.  However, each set costs an extra $25 to $35.  Despite the price of admission, I gave it shot.  I also picked up a pair of their long jaws for use with short irons such as those found in spokeshaves.

The guide comes packed in a small, clear plastic box with a set of instructions.  The box makes a great place to store the guide out of the elements.  So, I kept it.  Everything on the guide is well made.  Lie Nielsen machines all the parts, the bearings roll smoothly, and there is absolutely no slop.  In use, the guide proves comfortable to use with all of my tools.

So far, my favorite thing about the guide is that there is only one slot in the jaws.  I use stop blocks to quickly set the honing angle for all of my tools.  So, I now I use the same set of stop blocks for all my tools.  The jig feels like it’s on rails when in use.  However, the narrow wheel allows you to create a cambered edge if that’s your goal.  I might be mistaken, but I believe I am able to pull a burr on a dulled edge more quickly with this jig than with others.  If correct, I attribute this to the tight tolerances to which Lie Nielsen manufactures the guide.  Finally, while the various accessory jaws are nice, they do require some fiddling.  It takes a few minutes to swap them out.

In conclusion, the Lie Nielsen honing guide meets all of my requirements.  It easily bests all the other honing guides I have used in the past.  The time and frustration it saves me while sharpening justifies its hefty price.  In fact, it has probably already paid for itself.

 

How to Use the Kell Honing Guide and Quickly Produce Keen Edges

Realizing that the Kell honing guide was a bit tricky to use effectively, I thought it would be good to write a follow up to my recent review, found here: A Review: The Kell Honing Guide

A registration jig makes setting angles a breeze for the Kell honing guide.

A registration jig makes setting angles a breeze for the Kell honing guide.

The first thing to note is that making a registration jig will make this tool much easier to use. The instructions include a list of measurements to achieve a desired honing angle. The measurements are taken from the edge of the blade to the first registration bar. My registration jig is nothing more than a simple piece of scrap, slightly thinner than my narrowest chisel. This allows me to register the edge in one of two notches I cut, and slide the jig back until it touches the registration bar on the honing guide. Each notch represents a different honing angle.

Holding the guide for small chisels

Holding the guide for small chisels

Red arrows indicate where to hold guide.

Red arrows indicate where to hold guide.

To hone my narrowest chisels, I am able to hold on to the end of the registration bars to the left, and the adjustment knob on the right. I apply pressure to the edge using on finger and draw the entire guide back.

Holding the guide for wide chisels

Holding the guide for wide chisels

Arrows indicate where to hold the guide

Arrows indicate where to hold the guide

On my widest chisels, the registration bars aren’t available to grasp. Instead, I apply pressure to the edge with my index fingers, and pressure to the back of the blade (just above and behind the honing guide) with my thumbs. This locks the whole assembly in place, despite not really touching the guide itself. Chisels in between, are even easier to deal with.

I didn’t find it too difficult to get used to these modified techniques and would still highly recommend the Kell honing guide for chisels.  It may look odd to hold in the pictures, but it is actually quick, easy, and comfortable.  In both cases, I simply draw the guide back towards myself.  I lift sightly on the return to prevent gouging.  In most cases it only takes 10 or so swipes to produce a burr.  This, in part, is owed to the fact that the Kell guide makes it easy to produce consistent swipes across the stone and holds the chisel dead square.

Using the Kell Honing Guide to Quickly Produce Keen Edges

Realizing that the Kell honing guide was a bit tricky to use effectively, I thought it would be good to write a follow up to my recent review, found here: A Review: The Kell Honing Guide

Using the Kell Honing Guide

A registration jig makes setting honing angles a breeze

Using the Kell honing guide takes some getting used to, but is a breeze once you become acquainted.  The first thing to note is that making a registration jig will make this tool much easier to use. The instructions include a list of measurements to achieve a desired honing angle. The measurements are taken from the edge of the blade to the first registration bar. My registration jig is nothing more than a simple piece of scrap, slightly thinner than my narrowest chisel. This allows me to register the edge in one of two notches I cut, and slide the jig back until it touches the registration bar on the honing guide. Each notch represents a different honing angle.

Holding the Kell Guide with small chisels

Holding the Kell Guide with small chisels

Red arrows indicate where to hold the Kell Guide

Red arrows indicate where to hold the Kell Guide

To hone my narrowest chisels, I am able to hold on to the end of the registration bars to the left, and the adjustment knob on the right. I apply pressure to the edge using on finger and draw the entire guide back.

Holding the Kell Guide for large chisels

Holding the Kell Guide for large chisels

Red arrows indicate where to hold the chisel

Red arrows indicate where to hold the chisel

On my widest chisels, the registration bars aren’t available to grasp. Instead, I apply pressure to the edge with my index fingers, and pressure to the back of the blade (just above and behind the honing guide) with my thumbs. This locks the whole assembly in place, despite not really touching the guide itself. Chisels in between, are even easier to deal with.

I didn’t find it too difficult to get used to these modified techniques and would still highly recommend the Kell honing guide for chisels.  It may look odd to hold in the pictures, but it is actually quick, easy, and comfortable.  In both cases, I simply draw the guide back towards myself.  I lift sightly on the return to prevent gouging.  In most cases it only takes 10 or so swipes to produce a burr.  This, in part, is owed to the fact that the Kell guide makes it easy to produce consistent swipes across the stone and holds the chisel dead square.

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.

Stop block for setup

A simple stop block from a piece of scrap makes setup a piece of cake.

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?

Kell guide with 1/8th inch chisel

It even works great on very narrow chisels

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