If you've gotten your latest Woodcraft catalog you've seen this new
Pricey little bugger. I like the concept of keeping the guide off the
stone, but it seems like you'll wear a hollow in the stone a lot
faster being forced to keep the chisel in one line.
Wow...we were thinking the same thing at roughly the same time!
I like the fact that it has several pressure points along with keeping
the guide off the stone or sandpaper. I was thinking about getting a
couple honing plates and keep using sandpaper.
I just hope I am not getting sucked into some sort of gimmick. Maybe
what I should do is simply learn how to sharpen chisels and irons
WITHOUT some sort of crutch.
On 4 Feb 2007 14:24:28 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I see lots of holes in the jig, and 4 knobs. Two of them are holding
guides at the sides of the chisel and two are holding the chisel
itself. I'm not sure if there are more knobs that you can use with
wider blades or what.
There are some skills I just don't see the point of acquiring. One of
them is holding a chisel perfectly at a specific angle while moving it
back and forth. And I would appear to not be alone in this opinion :)
A lot of bucks for something that can easily be done by hand, if not
quite as accurately--but, then again, who has used this jig and how
accurate is it?
The PSA sheets are well worthwhile--I've been getting them from Lee
Valley for years now, and they ARE truly superior to regular abrasive
sheets for sharpening--but for $100, I think I can pass without pain
on the jig.
Couple problems I see right off. If you are using the sled, you will need to
level it with your stone. If you change stones, repeat the process. If you
are not using the sled, your stone better be pretty parallel to the table,
otherwise, things are going to get skewed. Also, if running on the table and
you change stones, it better be the same thickness within pretty close
tolerances or you're going to have to reset the tool. How many here have a
perfectly matched set of stones, both parallel and size? Lets see some
It's hard to tell exactly how it works from the info and picture they
give. From the description if you're using a stone then you'd be
using the rails. You'd only use the sled by itself if you were doing
scary sharp on a flat plate.
What I'm guessing with how a stone gets clamped in is that there are
rabbets on the pieces that go across between the two rails that clamp
the stone. This lets you just drop the whole thing on top of the
stone and it will sit level with the top of the stone. There's the
two feet at the back that support the rails behind the stone, which
you have to level with the stone. I find it strange that the rails
aren't stiff enough to cantilever out a couple inches, and the
leveling feet look to be a real PITA. If I'm understanding all that
correctly, I find it strange they don't sell the rails separately. If
you could just clamp a set on your 2-3 stones and the materials can
handle being underwater you could just leave them on and only take
them off to flatten your stones.
Another question would be if you're using their honing plates how does
the chisel make contact with the next grit? Finer grits are thinner
than coarse grits. If the sled is holding it fixed at that angle
wouldn't you have to readjust the projection of the chisel? I don't
I wish they had the manual available online like LV does with
I might as well jump into this sharpening fray--everyone else has. It
seems to me there is a bit of braggadocio (sp) at play here, i.e.,
those who blandly state that they don't need a jig, they just pour a
little kerosene (or whatever) onto their trusty oil stone and whip out
a razor sharp micro bevel in seconds. Juxtaposed are those who are in
constantly search for the latest gadget to do it all for them.
Well, perhaps it is vanity, but I think I can free hand a micro bevel
on an oil stone as well as almost anyone. I have a slow-turning water
wheel, an 8-inch grinder with the right white wheels, a 1-inch belt
sander, a Makita water wheel (primarily for sharpening joiner knives)
and a lot of other sharpening gadgets (I've always been a sucker for
gadgets so I understand what is at play here). I also have a complete
collection of Japanese water stones, ceramic stones in three grits, a
black arkansas stone, India stones, and an old rock that's fairly flat
+ a concrete floor in my shop that can be used if everything else
fails. I guess I have everything but the Tormek (which I never wanted
anyway--I would feel to ripped by the price of their accessories) and
the new Veritas plate sharpener (which I considered). I also have a
sisal buffing wheel that will put a polish on a rusty anchor for those
who think polish equates to sharpness.
The problem with free handing is that I (and I suspect most everyone
else) ends up with several facets. So I bought the new Veritas MK II
jig this past year. I also acquired five flat glass plates onto which
I stick abrasives ranging from 200 P to .03 microns. The time I spend
sharpening has been reduced dramatically and I end up with the
sharpest edges I have seen in many, many years of woodworking.
If I have a severely nicked edge I take it to my Makita wet plate
wheel and use a tool guide to lock it in to the bevel I desire. In a
flash I have a new, flat bevel (as opposed to hollow ground). From
there I lock it into the Veritas guide, slide it a few times across
the microabrasives and that's it. Couldn't be simpler. The greatest
cost is the approximately $50.00 for the Veritas guide. The
microabrasives cost very little. The Makita, which I only use for
severe cases, is primarily for sharpening joiner knives and I just
happen to have it. If I didn't have it I would use my 1" belt sander.
If I didn't have the belt sander I would make a jig to use on my
portable belt sander. In the absence of all of those I would go to
hollow grind. In other words, most shops have something around to get
the primary bevel. After that an investment of less than $55.00 will
equip you to obtain edges that might be equaled but can not be
So, bravo for the guys who whip it out freehand. I think in that
department I can keep up with the best of them. I just don't believe
they can sharpen as well or as fast as I can using a jig. The only
thing I lose is bragging rights. I don't mind being considered a wimp
so long as my tools stay sharp and you shouldn't either.
Your collection sounds a lot like mine. I've got the Makita horizontal water
grinder, an 8" 1750 RPM vertical grinder, a lot of different Arkansas stones
and various profiles of India stones, slips, rounds, etc. Clearly jigs are
needed for some tasks, e.g., jointer and planer knives and for grinding
turning gouges (e.g., Ellsworth). For chisels and hand plane irons the
existing bevel, particularly on beefy L-N irons, is sufficient to guide the
sharpening. It's less of a case of bragging than it is of using what is
necessary to get the job done.
I see this as falling in the same category as using nothing more than one's
fingers and a pencil to find center... Last week I showed Cub Scouts how to
find the center of the ends of the handles and end boards while they made
tool totes. Sure finding center could be measured, but why?
Hey, whatever works- but the question in my mind was never about the
shinyness or infinite microsharpness of the tool. It's always been
about getting a working edge on a working tool and getting back to the
project- without spending several hundred dollars on gadgets!
Since the litmus test always seems to be making a bald spot on one's
forearm, I can easily claim that level of sharpness with a freehand
sharpening. If you (literally, even) want to split hairs, then a
jig-formed edge might win the day. It's even possible it's faster to
use a jig once you're very familiar with the setup procedure, but that
depends on the person. Adding a jig of any sort adds setup time- it
may be a little or a lot, but it's still there.
It's the same old argument that goes on about all sorts of things in
this (and other) hobby. Everybody would like the have the "best" of
everything- but for any number of reasons, not everyone can have that.
So it's not a bad idea to remind people of the "good" from time to
time so that some work can get done. There really isn't anything
wrong with a guy buying gadgets because he likes them- but it is
damaging to the hobby as a whole if buying gadgets becomes the whole
point of it. When a group starts claiming a single thing as gospel
and harping on the new fella to spend $1000 he might not have on each
tool in the shop, it can turn an otherwise talented person away- if
not from the hobby itself, then at least it can sour them on the
group. I've gotten a lot of value out of this and other groups, and
I'd hate to lose the input of someone who may have a great deal of
talent and insight because they don't have a lot of money, and feel
like they can't run with the "big dogs" who do.
There's also the halo effect of naming things "essential" that we may
not always see. We've all seen the quality of most tools decline over
the years, while senseless "features" are added to them willy-nilly.
I would submit that this has a *lot* to do with advocating the "best"
at all times, and declaring that anything else is ineffective. A guy
reading that may well realize that he does not have the money for a
$200 honing guide, and go out and find a $7 one at the local hardware
store that will fit his budget, and use the thing with automotive
sandpaper. The accountants doing their thing see that those $7 jigs
are selling like hotcakes, the stones are mouldering on the shelf, and
that's what we end up with- while the useful older tool that sold for
that price gets yanked off the shelf to make room for the cheap
knockoff of the good gadget.
Sure, there's always room at the top- but let's leave a little wiggle
room at the bottom and the middle, too. Woodworking doesn't have to
be a rich man's sport (as a point of interest, it's a poor man's job
description- if you don't believe that, go take a look at a carpenter
or cabinet maker's tax statements and try and figure out where $200
for a friggin' guide is supposed to come from!)
Good post. I might add that those of us who are just starting out and/
or just sticking our toes in a little getting ready (hopefully) to
take it much more seriously once the kids have flown the coop and work
has wound down (gee, sounds a lot like my situation!) feel pretty beat
up when we are told it's useless to do such-and-such unless you have
this thingamabob. I don't necessarily have a lot of money and what I
do have cannot go 100% into woodworking. I have done a lot of
reminiscing during the course of the various sharpening threads and
realized I do have a lot more now than my father ever did in his
life. Yet he was able to do some pretty amazing things with a bit of
ingenuity, some engineering, and a lot of patience. He was able to
build and/or fix almost anything that needed done on the farm where I
grew up. If a part broke on the old Ford tractor, you can be sure he
didn't have the money to buy a new part. But you also knew darn well
that he could make a part fro what he had laying around. And he did
it without the use of expensive, fancy tools or even good ones.
I feel as though I am blessed with having some nice tools he only ever
dared dream about. But even with all those nice tools, the stuff I
make doesn't hold a candle to the stuff he put together. And it was
said in the previous post: it's all about doing what needs to be done
maintenance-wise to your tools and actually WORKING on the project.
It isn't about all the fancy-schmancy tools or the sharpest edge or
the absolute straightest line. Last night, while I was sitting
reading some of these posts, I looked up at the grandfather clock my
father made each one of his kids before he passed away. I knew he
spent money he didn't have for those movements and for the cherry wood
he made them from. I also knew those things were built using a knock-
off table saw; an old Stanley Handyman plane that wasn't any good when
he bought it in the mid-60's; a beat-up Craftsman router that he had
to smack on the side every once in a while to get it to spin; a
bandsaw he resurrected form somewhere that was brutally old and had a
hard time cutting straight; and...a whole lot of ingenuity,
engineering, patience, confidence, and love.
Which leads me to say it ain't the tool. It ain't the edge. It ain't
the jig/no jig. It's the user who got up off his arse, learned how to
use the tool, and actually put them to use.
Sorry for the rant. :o)
Gotta agree. I really don't know how to phrase this, but I am making a
conscientious effort to shift my focus from owning tools to using them.
That is, rather than scrambling to fill my shop with 'must have' tools,
I am trying to learn to use the tools I already have. I already have a
couple basic 'sets' of router bits. From now on, new bits have to meet a
specific need better than a combination of existing bits can.
I can not get a perfect edge on my chisels by hand sharpening them even
if I spent half the day trying ... but I can get an edge good enough to
get back to work in a minute or two. (My wife likes my forearms just
fine in their current state, so there is no pressing need to shave them.)
Over the course of the past few months I've realized that I am out of
the 'tool collecting' business and trying to gain a toehold on the
woodworking business. Over time I have earned which grits of abrasives
in which forms I really need for what I do. The sort of flat work I do
really only needs a couple types of blades. I do at least 90% of my
lathe work using only 3 tools ... and 100% of it using just a couple
more. I've learned which wood finishes I prefer to use and, since my
work is primarily done 'on spec', am free to reduce my inventory to the
few finishes that I like and can get good results with.
Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure that there is one
rascal less in the world.
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