When I saw that Lee Valley has release two new honing guides last month I knew that I have to give them a try. I love honing guides and I have quite a few. My favorite guide designs are offspring from the original Eclipse style. These guides are so easy to use – just open the jaws to the right width, slide in the chisel or the plane’s blade, set the right protrusion, tighten the jaws and begin sharpening. The Eclipse style has a few advantages over all other guides, most notably: simplicity, small size, and reliability. This is the reason why it has become so popular and why Lie Nelsen has decided a few years ago to create their own state-of-the-art Eclipse offshoot from stainless steel, and why Henry Eckert, a promising Australian maker, has recently launched their own fancy Eclipse informed guide from White bronze. And now came the time for Veritas to throw their hat into the ring.
The Veritas guide’s body is made of what seems to be die-cast zinc, and it is fitted with stainless steel and brass hardware. It has the widest roller wheel of all the other Eclipse style guides that I have seen or worked with. That means that it allows for maximum stability and support for the blade. But the flip side of a wide roller is that it might impede on the necessary subtle and intentional racking motion (right and left) – a technique that many uses to form a camber on the blade’s edge.
The guide is grooved with two tiers of dovetail clamping tracks. The lower tier and the more important of the two allow you to clamp short or medium-length blades. The upper tier, which is featured in the catalog, is handy for holding long chisels and plane blades.
The guide has a smooth working mechanism that is easy to handle and set up, and is very convenient to operate. It can accommodate the widest plane and chisel blades on the market at the same time will allow you to arrest the narrowest of chisels. I tried and succeeded in mounting a few different cutting edges including beveled edge, firmer, and mortise chisels, and found that the guide is capable of clamping them adequately. I could even secure my narrowest chisel (a 1/16” wide) in the guide but only in the upper set of dovetailed grooves.
Veritas provides a printed template (part of the instruction sheet) that denotes the exact protrusion for each of the common sharpening angles. To make a handy angle jig just photocopy the template and glue it on a piece of plywood. If you have some specific angle that worked best for you and is not mentioned in the template you can use a magnetic level and make your own in the same way that I explained in this blog entry. Note that the Veritas casting does not have a unified flat and right-angle surface at the front or the rear – which is aesthetically interesting but unfortunately not that “jig friendly”, so make your jig extra wide.
The new Veritas addition is a great honing jig at an attractive price. It will allow you to reliably achieve the needed sharpening angle for most of your edge tools. Just remember to oil the wheel and the tightening screw occasionally and it will serve you for many years to come.
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