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.