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This is by request. And for me this is like showing you my basement. Did you see the pawn shop’s basement in “Pulp Fiction?” It’s like that , but without the Spandex, leather and shotguns.

A reader asked to see the angle-setting guide I use for setting my tools in my side-clamp honing guide when sharpening. It was featured (briefly) in the DVD “Handplane Basics” that we released late last year.

Before we get into details and philosophy, let me state that I know this jig isn’t a new idea. And my version is junky blue-stained Eastern white pine. It is nothing like the sexy guide made by Deneb Puchalski at Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. Heck, that thing has a leather thong. No lie.

But mine is smaller (and now I can hear Deneb laughing all the way from Maine). And … it works.

OK, here is why I have this thing and why I use it every day. People get obsessed about angles in sharpening. I do not. I am obsessed with consistency. Setting your honing guide consistently is the key to quick and fast results.

Yes, I know that different thicknesses of irons can throw off the angles when sharpening plane blades. No, I do not care. No, I’m not listening. Nunga, nunga, nunga, nunga. Why am I not listening? Because the differences in angles caused by slight variations in iron thicknesses are pretty petty. Do the math if you like.

So I set all my plane irons in my jig using the same stop for 30° (or a second stop for 35° when I want a steeper edge). It might not actually be 30°. But it is perfect every time, requires just a few strokes to pull up a wire edge and (like I said before) mine is smaller (stop snickering Megan!).

On the flip side of this jig are three other stops. Two are for chisels , one for 30° and one for 35°. Same philosophy. These angles work. I use the lower angle for paring chisels and the steeper one for chopping chisels.

The third stop is for honing a 15° back bevel on a plane iron. This takes my 45° bevel-down planes up to 60° with just a few swipes on a polishing stone. Then I can remove the back bevel by grinding away the primary bevel if I please.

Below is a SketchUp file that shows my jig and its measurements. Or build Deneb’s if you want to impress the ladies with your thong. (65.76 KB)

– Christopher Schwarz

Other Sharpening Resources You Should Investigate

– Download a pdf of Deneb’s jig from the Lie-Nielsen web site.

– Brent Beach is a sharpening madman. Take a free afternoon and dive down into the rabbet hole of his web site. You might come up a different person. (

– “Perfect Edge” by Ron Hock , a great new book on sharpening by one of the nicest and smartest guys in the business.

– “Handplane Basics” DVD, my tutorial that started this crazy entry. Geeze do I look that dorky?

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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Showing 12 comments
  • corp-mule

    The sketchup (zip) file only has a jpg image in it. Is that how it should be? shouldn’t there a sketchup file within it?

    The jpg file only shows measurements for one side of the jig. But the text of the article talks about both sides.

    Why is there one side for plane irons and, another side for chisels? Aren’t they using the same angles?

  • Christopher Schwarz


    Or you can get it for free on Lie-Nielsen’s web site. See link above in story.


  • chris c

    For those who are interested… an article in that other woodworking magazine(ok, it’s Fine Woodworking) features
    the more elaborate jig by Deneb Puchalski. FYI: It’s this month’s
    issue. Article begins on page 42.


  • aaron

    my jig is pretty much the same, except it’s two separate pieces – one for chisels, the other for planes. I find that the jig helps not so much because I can’t remember extensions, but because I just set the blade in the honing guide, place it in the jig, and pull it out to pull it out to full extension 😉 (for real though!). the less measurement i have to do, the better. This way I dont have to strain my eyes trying to get down to the right fraction of mm, or risk damaging the blade on the steel of my combo square.

    I *also* use the eclipse honing guide – I actually like how small the wheel is, because i find it easier to tilt the blade for cambering.

  • Aluminum Extrusions

    Thanks for sharing with us and taking us into your "basement"… I love the analogy!

  • Christopher Schwarz


    Why make a jig for setting the blade?

    Because I can never remember the correct dimensions for the projection. They are printed in mm on my jig. I don’t have a mm ruler.

    Why use an Eclipse jig?

    I bought it 15 years ago for $10 and have been completely satisfied with its performance. I have had to test other commercial jigs in my job and have yet to find one that eclipses the Eclipse. I haven’t used the jig from your site, however.


  • Brent

    I am beginning to suspect that I am unnaturally agile.

    I use a combination square to set the extension with little difficulty. I bought a stop rule from Lee Valley and that works as well.

    Why would you build a single purpose jig to set an extension when you have a perfectly good general purpose combination square already in your tool box somewhere?

    While I am asking questions, why would you use the eclipse jig when you can make a better jig in 15 minutes that allows you to put the essential back bevel on your plane irons with complete precision?

    This may sound snarky, but I would really like to know.


    BTW, that live comment preview to mind boggling.

  • Nick Dombrowski


    You would need about a 13 1/2" space between the end of the blade and your honing guide to pull off a 5 degree angle. You would have to run your honing guide on a surface lower than your stone to pull off such a low angle. A little bit of trig (right triangles, sine, cosine) will answer all your questions or you could just eye it up with a protractor or use trial and error.


    Don’t worry. Its not the size of the honing guide, it’s how you use it.

  • Mike

    I’ve been thinking about making a copy of Deneb’s but I like how simple this one is. I wanted to add a block to mine for a 5 degree back bevel but I wasn’t even sure if a plane blade is long enough to do this with a side clamping jig. Have you ever used 5 or 10 degree back bevels? I thought 15 sounded like a lot, do you use it very often?

    Mike Mitchell

  • Dean Jansa

    Boy, I’ve never seen a 25 degree back bevel like the one on that iron!

    (Ducks and runs)

  • Victor Parisian

    Kiss (keep it simple stupid). Nice job Chris.

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