The LNT Honing Guide

I was wrong.  Or at least not as right as I thought.

As a self-taught free-hand sidewinder sharpener for four decades I eschewed the use of sharpening jigs, fixtures, tricks, alchemy, or other components.  Truth be told I was privately derisive about their use.  I derived my own successful methods based on my understanding of geometry and human kinesthetics.  Didn’t everybody?

Recently on a whim I ordered the sharpening jig from  Lie-Nielsen, knowing that I would be doing a lot of hand planing and sharpening during an upcoming (now current) project.  A lot of people I respect touted its excellence and I was willing to take a flyer on it.  Though I still finish off my edges freehand and side-winding, the honing jig has become an integral part of my sharpening routine especially in the earlier stages leading up to the final polish.


Let me begin by stating the obvious — this is an LN tool after all — the guide is well-made and easy to use.  Establishing the desired angle is a accomplished by placing the blade loosely in the guide and using a reference surface, in my case a scrap of baltic birch plywood that sits above the sharpening station.  Then you tighten the nut and get to work.

I find the guide most useful when I am establishing the bevel angle on the blade.  I do not make any fuss over the exact numerical value of the angle as I think it is irrelevant within normal limits.  Like Steve Branham has said, I believe accurately, the precise angle does not really matter — the level of edge preparation and sharpness does.  For me it is just “shallow, steep, or medium?”



So, I set an angle with the guide and wail away on some 50 grit sandpaper mounted to my granite plate.  It gets me to the re-established bevel in short order.


Since I am concerned about tearing up the wheel on the guide during this step I wrap it with some electrical tape to protect it.  It takes me 30 seconds and saves the wheel from the coarse grit.

Next time I on this topic I will discuss the rest of my process and the LNT honing guide influence on it, along with a newly adopted additional step that has revolutionized my results..