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A Dedicated Sharpening Bench
The Truth about Honing Guides

September 28, 2013

Honing guides.

Yes, it’s OK to use them and no, they aren’t considered cheating.

If someone tells you they are, don’t listen to them and consider un-following them on Twitter. ( just kidding..; )

Vise-Type Honing Guide. Backwards?

Honing guides are dependable.

Honing guides make sharpening easy and repeatable.

Some people prefer not to use honing guides and that’s OK.

There are no hard-fast rules in my woodshop and there shouldn’t be any in yours.

Whatever works, right?

Free hand sharpening is a little faster.

Free hand sharpening doesn’t require additional jigs or steps.

Free hand sharpening looks cool and somehow seems more ‘traditional’.

That too, is OK.

Honing guides come in many shapes and sizes.

Some can be rather expensive and some aren’t.

I have both.

Some are really easy to use and provide super accurate results.

Some don’t. Again, I have both.

My favorite honing guide is one of the least expensive on the market.

It’s easy to use and gives me accurate results every time I use it.

It’s fast to set up, and available in almost every hardware, big-box, specialty tool, on-line mail order tool-dealer catalog I’ve ever seen.

It’s the Vise-Type Honing Guide  you may have seen me use in the last video I posted.

It costs $10.90 Canadian. 

That’s not a big investment for having sharp tools.

Every person I’ve ever watched use one, uses it with their fingers placed on the front of the cutting tool, facing away from them.

I don’t.

I load the cutting tool into the honing guide as per normal and then turn the guide around so the cutting edge is facing me.

I use my thumbs instead of my fingers. (see photo)

My thumbs are much stronger than my fingers and having the guide facing me, allows me to watch the leading edge and seems to make much more sense.  I can visualize what the cutter is doing and see the camber appear as I hone away.

I don’t have to lean way over and eye down from the top as I work. I can actually sit back, and watch the leading edge work it’s way, to and fro’, along the water stone as it tracks towards me.

The water stone?

Yes, I use water stones.

That’s next time.

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