Popular Woodworking 2004-10 № 143, страница 30

Popular Woodworking 2004-10 № 143, страница 30

Endurance Test




Ignore the naysayers. This jig produces square, sharp edges every single time.

Many of my fellow hand-tool users give me a rash of grief about my simple side-clamp honing guide, which has been a fixture on my workbench since 1993.

"Isn't it time you learned to sharpen properly?" they ask. And then they rattle off a list of the advantages of sharpening freehand:

• Freehand is faster because you don't have to set up a jig every time you sharpen.

• You remove less metal with freehand sharpening so your hand tools will last longer before they're used up.

• Freehand sharpening produces edges just as sharp as those produced with a jig.

• The side-clamp jig won't work for odd-shaped or very short tools.

• Sharpening with a jig is just for beginners. Real hand-tool users can sharpen without this little one-wheeled crutch, they say.

To most of those criticisms I roll my eyes. I can sharpen freehand, and I'm pretty good at it. After all, some tools must be sharpened freehand because they won't fit in the j ig properly (such as gouges and skew chisels), which is one of the few valid criticisms of the jig.

But most furniture makers spend more time sharpening bench chisels and plane irons

ABOUT OUR ENDURANCE TESTS Every tool featured in our Endurance Test column has survived at least two years of heavy use in our shop here at PopularWoodworking.

than they do odd-shaped specialty tools. And when it comes to sharpening these basic and common tools, nothing beats this jig.

Here are the facts: Sharpening with the side-clamp honing guide is as fast or faster than sharpening freehand. Using a few well-placed marks on my bench, I can set a chisel or plane iron at the perfect sharpening angle in just a couple of seconds. After a few more seconds to secure the tool in the jig, I'm ready to roll.

Freehand sharpeners sometimes forget that it takes time to adjust the tool in their hands so its edge contacts the stone at the right angle. And they have to make this adjustment every time they lift the tool from the stone.

As to the complaint that sharpening with a jig removes more metal and shortens the lifespan of the tool, I say "So what?" Few woodworkers ever manage to use up a chisel or plane iron in their lifetime. If the jig does shorten the usable life of the tool, it's usually something that won't be a problem until our grandchildren use it decades in the future.

When it comes to producing a quality edge every time, sharpening with a jig is unbeatable. Beginners who have a jig can produce


Side-clamp Honing Guide Street price: $10-$13 For more information: The jig is available through most woodworking suppliers.

edges as good (sometimes better) than people who have been sharpening freehand their entire adult lives. This is because the jig takes all the guesswork out of the angle the tool must be held at during sharpening, and produces perfect and repeatable edges every time. Freehand sharpening is more prone to error. Even experienced sharpeners will occasionally round over an edge on a bad day.

As I stated earlier, one of the criticisms of the j ig is valid: You can't sharpen everything with it, but it does take care of 90 percent of my sharpening needs.

And as to the claim that the j ig is a crutch for beginners, I disagree. This side-clamp honing guide is for any woodworker who wants keen square edges every time they sharpen so they can get back to woodworking.

Sharpening shouldn't take years for you to master the muscle memory. This jig gives you good edges the first day you use it, and that's reason enough to own one. PW

— Christopher Schwarz


Popular Woodworking October 2004

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