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Sharpening is an art — some would call it a black art, but an art nonetheless. You can obtain excellent results with nothing more than a few stones and hours and hours and hours of practice, or you can buy honing guides that almost ensure that novices can achieve acceptable results if they follow directions. That’s not to say that honing guide are for novices, though; there’s a place for them at any skill level.

Some guides are better than others. From experience I can say that some of the cheaper guides can be frustrating to use. They can be hard to set to the correct angle, don’t hold the blade securely or even straight, or are too large to make use of the whole sharpening surface. On the other hand, there’s just something elegant about Richard Kell’s honing guide. The tiny guide puts the fulcrum between the guide wheels rather than above them, making the guide harder to tip and resulting in a much smaller footprint.

Utilizing English craftsmanship, the rollers are turned from solid brass and a self-lubricating Ertalite TX low friction material to within ±.001″, then assembled in matched pairs. The stainless steel positioning rods allow you to clamp the blade to be honed either above or below them, depending on the bevel angle you’re after.

Kell’s no. 1 guide accommodates blades from 0 to 1″ and his no. 2 guide can handle tools from 0 to 2-5/8″.  As with any tools, quality come with a price. That price is $60 for the no. 1 guide and $70 for the no. 2 guide.

Honing Guides [Richard Kell]
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11 Responses to Richard Kell Honing Guide

  1. Gary says:

    Best jig out there for sharpening old mortise chisels with rounded tops.

  2. Rick says:

    This “vise type” honing guide from Lee Valley is available at several places. I’m posting it to warn you to stay the heck away from it. It is cheap crap.


    However, Lee Valley also sells Veritas honing guides, which are top notch.

    The Kell guides look interesting, I might have to give those a go at some point.

  3. Stan says:

    Do a Google on “Scary Sharp” uses sand paper to sharpen your chisels and plane blades.
    Get this guide it’s THE best one: http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=51868&cat=1,43072,43078&ap=1

    I was very reluctant to sharpen my chisels when they got dull. I took them to a place that claimed they knew how to sharpen, and they butchered the hell out of them. It took a little while initially to sharpen them and set the angle, but once that’s done all one needs is a touch-up and in 10min or less your ready to go.

  4. @Rick:

    Yeah, that’s exactly the one I was talking about, it’s better than nothing, but just barely.

    What I’ve ended up doing using one of these “vise-type” guides is work for 10 minutes to get the chisel exactly where I want it, then spend some time honing a razor sharp edge to the “new” angle, cause you’ll never get it set to the same angle twice.

    Then I try to take care and not let the chisels get too dull and touch them up as needed freehand. If you get a good nick, you’ll have to start the process all over again.

    Next time I have to “start over” on a bevel, I think I’m going to try a hollow grind, where you set the angle with a bench grinder (being careful not to heat the chisel up too much) leaving a concave bevel. Supposedly it’s much easier to keep sharp because there’s much less material to remove when you hone it.

  5. Shopmonger says:

    Scary Sharp works well with these types of jigs, although pressing on the glass can be a bit scary in itself, i always recommend to go and buy a surface plate (granite slab) smaller ones are very reasonable and they can be cleaned easily. Automotive sandpaper with adhesive back already on it is fantastic….

    and if you want that extra fine edge, go to HD and buy a stick of metal polish or jewelery rouge, and a piece of MDF, and use this paste on the MDF as a strop. You can get mirror like finish ,,,just don’t dig into the MDF….Sharpen on Pull stroke only……(both on MDF and the Sand Paper)


  6. Stan says:


    I use 1/4″ glass without any problems. I superglue the glass to a piece of hardboard which I then clamp to the bench to keep everything from moving.
    I get my sandpaper here:http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/Merchant/merchant.mvc?Screen=NEXT&StoreCode=toolstore&nextpage=/extra/lappingfilm.html
    I can and do get a mirror edge, by using the four grades of sandpaper.

  7. shopmonger says:

    @stan….i like that idea, gluing the glass to a board, but I know how some of us are a tad tough on our shop stuff…..


  8. Stan says:

    That could be a problem for some.

  9. Dave says:

    My father-in-law showed me the sandpaper method. He uses a piece of 1/2″ glass he salvaged from an old tabletop and had a local glass company cut for him. When I get to where I will be doing this, I am going to order a piece of granite from my ebay machine shop seller. About $40 gets me a 12 x 18 piece of 2″ granite. I will mill this into my workbench for various uses.

  10. John says:

    I have been using the Veritas Mark II honing guide. It is ok for plane irons but I have trouble keeping chisels, in particular thinner bladed ones, from shifting when using this guide. Really a pain. I only hone with these guides, carefully grinding the primary bevels first. I go for extremely sharp, finishing with an 8000 grit waterstone.

    I am considering the Kell guides as a remedy to this problem. I hate out and/or uneven bevels.


  11. richard kell says:


    i’ve now got bigger rollers for my no.2 .. its a winner !!


    see also my workshop blog ie richard.livejournal.com.

    richard kell

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