Sharpening Plane Blades & Chisels with the Henry Eckert Honing Guide
and the Henry Eckert Angle Setting Jig
Our aim is to make sharpening your tools and simple, quick & practical. Blunt tools and blades
are dangerous and ineffective, making a wonderful tool an ornament.
Waterstones / Waterstones
We only use water stones to sharpen our tools. The arrival of ceramic waterstones offers
fast cutting (sharpening), ability to stay flatter longer and they do not require pre soaking,
just a spritzig spray of water to get sharpening.
The Shapton brand that we sell is a good example of these ceramic waterstones.
We don’t rule out oilstones, diamond plates or sandpaper, just that we find waterstones
quicker, cleaner, resultant and lasting.
Waterstones need to be kept flat. We recommend a quick flattening exercise each time
you sharpen, that way your stones are always flat, ready to go and problems do not build.
We use a Lapping Plate or some 240 grit wet and dry sandpaper on a piece
of glass to keep our stones flat. Wet the sandpaper & glass to get the paper to adhere to
the glass before use.
HE Honing Guide
Honing guides simply ensure you resharpen the same bevel or microlevel each time rather
than starting afresh removing steel you do not have to or not sharpening on the edge of
the blade where it matters. It also keeps everything square and straight.
Freehand is fine if you do it on a very regular basis and hence your muscle memory is
impeccable, which is not often the case.
Made in Adelaide, the Henry Eckert Honing Guide is solid cast white bronze, marine grade stainless steel & brass. It is based on the no longer produced Eclipse guide. Many have “copied” this guide but quality and performance has suffered in the process.
We have always been a great supporter of the simplicity and efficiency of the Eclipse jig, our aim is to make blade sharpening very simple and very successful for the woodworker.
The HE Honing Guide is cast in White Bronze. It has CNC machined jaws, matched in pairs. The reference points ensure the blade or chisel you are sharpening is flat on the stone and square to the rolling bearing. The bearing is kept to 12mm to allow weight shifting when honing and hence blade rounding when required.
We use only marine grade stainless steel for the threaded rods & bearing to limit the damage the water / grit environment it is exposed to can cause. A sintered bronze bush is used inside the stainless bearing to allow smooth operation and resistance to corrosion.
The upper jaws that accept plane blades are “dovetailed” to ensure the blade is pushed down flat and square. The lower chisel jaws are the same in reverse, that is, on clamping, the small plane blade or chisel is pushed up flat against the jig to keep it straight and square.
We also have a ‘middle’ clamping position to accommodate thin bench chisels 3mm (1/8″) to 6mm (1/4″). The tool accommodates all plane blade widths and bench chisel widths. Some Japanese chisels may be too short to hold well in the guide.
It will also hold square mortise chisels between the jaws, sitting on the two stainless rods. The angle setting jig is not set up for mortise chisels. Just work out an angle you like and there will sure to be a setting on the jig very close to that angle for future repetitive use.
The knurled brass knob is wide giving excellent finger purchase, combined with the jaws machining, it is often the case that finger tight is enough to secure the blade without the use of screwdriver to tighten it.
Clearances allow sharpening from 20° up to 50°.
HE Angle Setting Jig
The length the blade or chisel extends from the HE Honing Guide determines
the angle the blade meets the stone.
Our aim to simplify sharpening requires the opportunity to select the angle immediately.
Our Blade Setting Jig has 5 settings for plane blades, 25° to 50° and 3 for chisels and
smaller blades, 25° to 35°.
The Blade Angle Setting Jig ensures you always sharpen the same bevel angle as the last
time. We laser cut the jig from marine grade plywood, each angle setting is clearly marked.
A Note on Blade Angles
There is much to read and hear about blade sharpening angles. We recommend 35
degree micro levels for both plane blades and chisels. For bevel up plane blades used in low angle planes there is an opportunity to sharpen at higher angles if tear out is a problem on some timbers. Here you can sharpen in the 40° and 50° area which is accommodated in the HE Angle Setting Jig.
Thicker or thinner blades will cause minor changes in angles being set. This is not a
concern, if a blade is 29° or 30° or 31° it will be perform the same. What is most important
is that each time you hone your blades you return to the same angle each time and hence
sharpen the same bevel angle each time.
We use a 1000, 4000 and 8000 grit stones to sharpen our blades. Often just the 1000 and
8000 grit stones do the job.
For plane blades firstly put the blade bevel down in the top jaws, hand tighten the knurled
knob slightly so the blade has some movement up and down the guide. Put the blade on
the Blade Setting Jig (P-“) to select your angle, we suggest a 35° micro bevel, most plane
blades have a 25° primary bevel as standard.
Tighten the blade in the guide with fingers or a screwdriver, major pressure is not required!
Spray some water on your stones. Push the guide up and down on the 1000 grit stone
until you feel a ‘wire’ or a ‘hook’ on the flat side of the blade. THIS IS CRITICAL TO
ACHIEVE, IT ENSURES YOU ARE HONING RIGHT ON THE EDGE WHERE BOTH
SIDES MEET. When this is achieved move to the 4000 grit stone and then the 8000 grit
stone. We expect that for undamaged blades around 8 strokes per stone is enough. The
‘wire’ will diminish in size as you go up to the finer grits.
Remove the blade from the guide, now it is time to sharpen the flat side (by removing the
‘wire’) of the blade so both faces meet in a zero radius, that is, not rounded where they
To do this we use the ‘Ruler Trick’ a method we learned from David Charlesworth.
On your 8000 stone, place a thin ruler (1mm to 1.5mm thick) along one edge the length of
the stone. Put the blade with the main bevel facing up. Move the blade across the stone
allowing the edge to go off the edge of the stone and then back again. Again about 8
passes will remove the wire edge and polish a less than one degree bevel on the flat side.
Now your blade or chisel is sharp and ready for use.
For chisels and smaller plane blades, use the same method as above to select your
angles ensuring you use the Lower Clamp angles on the Angle Setting Jig. Then proceed as you do for plane blades EXCEPT do not use the Ruler Trick on chisels. Chisels need a flat back surface so remove the ‘wire edge’ and hone the flat side without a ruler but still use the technique of on and off the edge, or along, the stone.
To keep our blades free from oxidation we wipe them dry after sharpening and wipe them
down with a soft rag soaked in Camellia Oil, a non marking drying oil that keeps oxygen
and moisture away from your blades and chisels.