Honing Guide Review - Wrap-up
Issue: Honing Guide Reviews (May/June 2012)
Posted Date: 2/12/2014
If you’ve skipped ahead to this section to find out which honing guide is the best one, I may disappoint you. These nine guides are so very different from one another in both how they’re used and the range of tools that they’ll handle, that I don’t think any one could satisfy all possible uses and users. However, over the course of using the guides to sharpen just about every edge tool I own, I did develop some favorites and have a few recommendations.
As an overall favorite performer, I’d have to choose the Veritas MkII guide. Its clever registration jig and adjustable roller made it a slam-dunk to dial in exact honing angles with great precision and repeatability. This is important, because if you set a blade just 1/2 to 1 degree off in a guide, you’ll end up grinding more material off the bevel than necessary. With its optional accessories, the MkII will sharpen just about any edge tool in the free world.
Once I got used to its side-to-side honing action, I really liked the Sharp Skate III and the absolutely scary sharp edges it put on my chisels and plane irons (it didn’t form the kind of wire edge burr that back-to-front guides seem to create). Hence, I liked it best for honing the precise secondary bevel that forms the final cutting edges on a tool, and not so much for shaping and restoring its primary bevel.
I liked the Alisam guide best for restoring nicked or otherwise damaged edges. The #SS1’s rock-steady clamping and large handles allow you to apply ample honing pressure and remove material quickly. Using a coarse or extra-coarse diamond plate or stone, it’s easy to form a new primary bevel on a tool without the risk of overheating the edge (something all too possible when power grinding).
The Kell #2 jig is simple to set, and it works with a wide range of standard chisels and plane irons. Because of its low center of gravity and strong clamping action, I found it very easy to use with consistently favorable results.
If you’re on a tight budget, an inexpensive side-clamping guide is probably the best way to go. It handles most basic chisels and plane irons and is handy to have on hand, even if you later decide to purchase a more expensive guide.