I've been using the Veritas Honing Guide and water stones with reasonable
success. I've also done some honing by hand with reasonable success.
Recently, I acquired an old Stanley No. 8 jointer plane. After grinding to
get the blade back into proper shape, it was time to go to the water stones.
I was frustrated to learn that my Veritas Honing Guide would not accept the
large jointer plane blade (2 5/8" wide). Ok, so I'll do it by hand. Let me
tell you that's a real wangly proposition. This blade is long and wide and
not thick like a Hock blade. I could feel the bevel on the stone and set
the blade angle. It was not as crisp feeling as some of my other, smaller
plane blades. Holding the whole thing steady at a constant angle moving
across the stone was a very iffy proposition because the blade is so big and
tends to flop around. I got it done and the plane worked very well.
However, I was not satisfied with the tedious experience of sharpening the
So I researched honing jigs. I remembered Jeff Gorman's website had a page
on building your own. What the heck. It only took a $3 hardwood handled
seaming roller (available at Lowe's in the wallpaper department) and a scrap
Jeff's design is more than just a shop built solution. Its vastly different
from the commercial guides available. Virtually all the guides available
ride on top of the stone and are about 3 inches big in the largest
dimension. Even the slightest adjustment in how the blade is clamped will
make a significant change in the blade angle. I consider all of them a bit
touchy at best. Jeff's jig uses a roller that rests on the workbench, so
you get full use of the stone. His jig is big, with the blade holder being
almost 9" long. Adjustments for angle are typically done with 1/4" changes,
instead of 1/32" changes. In use, I get a much better feel for how the iron
is contacting the stone, than with the Veritas guide. Its like a hybrid
between hand honing and honing with a Jig. I re-honed the jointer blade in
record time and with a degree of confidence I've never felt before.
So you like that little knob on the Veritas for changing the angle slightly
to do a micro bevel? Yes, its well thought out and neat. With Jeff's Jig,
its even faster. Just put a 1/4" or 1/2" piece of wood under the roller -
Poof! instant micro bevel.
Next trial was to fix the nick in the blade of my Veritas medium shoulder
plane. I did not want to hollow grind this because the corners of the blade
are so critical to this plane's performance. I used Jeff's Jig with 100
grit sandpaper on a sheet of glass. I safely and accurately got the nick
out leaving a flat symetrical bevel.
I didn't even bother to make my version of Jeff's jig fancy with bolts to
hold the blade. I just grabbed a couple of spring clamps to hold the blade
in place. Its ugly but it works.
The link to the jig is http://tinyurl.com/4zxks .