I thought I’d supplement my last blog with just a bit more info, relating to the honing guides I currently own. I’ve had a range over the years, and those in the photo below, are a fair representation of those.
In the photo, the guide listed as
1. This guide is by Veritas, and was their first version, as far as I know. This one holds the tool via downward pressure, via a large screw and a disc that touches the top surface of said tool. I struggled getting tools perfectly square, but the newer version 2.0 (I believe this is correct) has attachments that aide in this and accurate setting of angles.
2. This guide is the Sharp Skate which has the bronze unit that holds the blades (with the pins removed, the far top on each end, the internal mechanism can be skewed to set positions with pin-holes or possibly in between). It also comes with the black “tray” on which it sits, with lines the blade can engage, to set the angle precisely. The bottom has wheels that run laterally, which is how this guide (and the tool it holds) is moved. This can hold the larger irons for Japanese hand planes, as well as Western tools.
3. This guide is an older Eclipse style made by Record/Marples, and as you can see, it has thicker castings in areas, and a finger-friendly nurled cap to tighten the guide.
4. This is a very recent Eclipse style, replacing my old worn unit.
5. This is the old worn unit (with the rusty wheel).
6. This one is the Kell honing guide (they now have another version that has wheels with a larger diameter, which can also be had as replacements that fit on the earlier units), which has two clear-plastic discs, that make contact with the side of the tool, rather than galling the inside bronze surface of each wheel. There is another version, that does not handle as wide of irons or chisels, but each are easy to use.
There are a range of honing guides on the market, and one that I have on my hit list, made by Lie-Nielsen. Their new guide is made with precision that is not unlike their planes, and there are a number of different jaws for the guide, depending on the tool which you are sharpening/honing. They even have jaws for their skew block plane irons, both left and right available skewed 18-degrees, as well as a 30-degree skewed version for the side rabbit plane irons, and others. This looks to be THE honing guide! Thomas Lie-Nielsen does advise that he doesn’t guarantee it to work with all irons/blades/chisels, as it was made to work with Lie-Nielsen products, but it should work for a wide range of sharpening
I hope this might give a little more insight into some of the honing guides on the market, and even a few from the past. Thanks for stopping by to check out the info, and let me know if you have any questions or comments.
I bought my first plane at the local Sears store back around 1985. It’s size is similar to a No. 4, but there’s nothing stamped or cast into the body. At that time, I assumed any plane was as good as the next and I didn’t have the background or experience to know different. Originally, I couldn’t even get a shaving out of it unless I hung the blade like 3″ below the sole! Ok, ok, I’m exaggerating somewhat on that, but I truly couldn’t get a shaving, and then without any middle-ground, I’d fly right past the sought after fine setting and go directly to seriously digging in. What a frustrating time. It’s now easy to see just how much difference it makes, learning to sharpen and setup a plane.
Well, I took the plane apart to clean some dust off of it and to sharpen the iron and I noticed the iron adjusting knob was plastic (as well as the knob and tote). I’d completely forgotten about that and how much harder it was to get a good grip on the adjusting knob. Everything else was somewhat similar to a Stanley plane from the ’50s on, except possibly the steel used for the iron. The iron isn’t marked as to the type of steel, but I assume it’s similar to what Record used in their planes at the time. With the body and iron marked “Made in England”, its probable Record may have made the plane. Anyways, I applied a 10-degree micro-bevel to the standard 25-degree bevel with my 1000 and then 8000-grit stones, as well as using the ruler-trick on the back of the iron. Ok, I guess it turned out a little more sharp than I’d really expected, but it still wasn’t the usual shaving sharp I’m used to.
After re-assembling the plane, and setting it up as I would my Lie-Nielsen planes, it was time to see just how it would behave when working some wood. One other thing I noticed about this plane during the setup, is how much extra backlash the adjustment mechanism has (just over 3 full revolutions between touches!). I chose a piece of Walnut to use as my test wood, since it is easy to work and I didn’t really have much in the way of expectations for the plane. As I made the first pass across the wood, I was somewhat surprised, when it actually took a somewhat reasonable shaving. Since I wasn’t really expecting much, I guess I didn’t have all of my senses turned on, so I took another few passes to better assess the plane. On the next pass I noticed the iron skipped over the front edge of the board and then engaged. While in the cut, the sound the plane made was a little different than what seems like normal. Just to make sure, I actually grabbed a couple of my Lie-Nielsen planes to compare against. Sure enough, the sound of the Sears plane was similar to what you might hear when you bow a low string on a viola. Just some sort of vibrational undertone to the usual shaving sound, as opposed to the Lie-Nielsen planes where everything is totally solid.
|Old Sears plane in the middle flanked by Lie-Nielsen planes.|
So, with some extra attention to setup and usage, the old Sears plane CAN do a somewhat reasonable job, especially if there was nothing else available. But, with the extra focus and additional sharpening required to keep it somewhat useable, I find my Lie-Nielsen planes worth their weight in…..!
**One added piece of information that is directly related to the auditory scenario of the Sears plane. I was back out in the shop and thought I’d reset the iron to see just how it would behave, when taking a little heavier shaving. I tried taking some photos of the resulting surface, but the camera didn’t want to cooperate. Interestingly, the surface of the board looked somewhat like it’d just come out of a powered planer, with a faint set of lines running side to side, with a very consistent spacing. Funny, since I usually call on my hand plane to correct that same issue, rather than causing them. I’ve never actually experienced this from a hand plane before, but it does make sense with the sounds emitted during use, likely relating to a less than optimal mating of the iron/frog surfaces.
Thanks for checking out my blog. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.