Why isn't there a reasonably priced eclipse-style honing guide?

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donturner

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I have an eclipse-style honing guide which I bought from Amazon for about 10 quid. It's OK but you cannot tighten the jaws too much otherwise the frame bends. It also won't sharpen chisels with flat sides (i.e. mortise chisels).

I bought the Veritas MK2 honing guide hoping to solve these issues which it does. Unfortunately it introduces other issues, namely being a massive faff to set up, and being very slightly off square which annoys me no end.

I've looked at a bunch of different honing guides:

Richard Keill No2 - £75 - Looks fiddly, at least one reviewer agrees
Veritas Mk1 - £47 - Suffers from side clamping problems
Axminster Rider - £16 - Looks no better than the cheapo eclipse guide
Lie-Neilson Honing guide - £153 - that price, seriously?!
O'SKOOL Honing Guide - £40 - this actually looks OK, but reviews indicate that the brass rollers disintegrate at the merest suggestion of being placed near a diamond stone

What I want is a reasonably well designed honing guide for a reasonable price, say £50. Is that unreasonable? Does such a thing even exist?
 
I use the veritas mk2 and find it ok after the initial opening of the box . I’ve only used the one setting but I’m sure I’ll use some of the others at some point . Had 1 chisel come out slightly off square but it was a 6 mm so not the end of the world. My previous guide was a Stanley ..
I’ve not tried any of the others . It won’t be long before the sharpen freehand subject is mentioned so be prepared 😂😂
 
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Have you searched eBay for an original eclipse jig? I bought one a few years back to give as a gift, in pretty much mint condition, and IIRC quite reasonably priced.
 
I get so many students at my classes who have tried and failed at home with a new eclipse style guide.

They are so badly built that most just won't sharpen even vaguely square.

The Veritas side guide (£35 ish) is a lot better but still not as good as I'd expect from Veritas.

The Veritas MK2 is prob the best bet but not cheap at £65ish - and I agree - I use it often but it is so incredibly fiddly. (and there have been some off centre guides I have seen recently which at the price and from Veritas is really poor).

I get students to sharpen chisels hand - so they can sharpen at v low cost - but there is a point at which some will need re-grinding. Which is where a honing guide comes in. More importantly, as a beginner, setting up/sharpening a plane blade for the first time with a nice even camber is really hard / virtually impossible to do properly without a guide. I use a guide when setting up a blade for the first time and I've done it many many times and could do it freehand if I had to. But I don't.

I agree that there is a big gap in the market... but I do wonder if it just comes down to the fact that precision engineering aint cheap?

[I've never dipped my toe into the "sharpening wars" on here before. I get enough of this from my dad who trained me and was trained in 1950 by a chap who started his training in 1895.... "You don't need any of that rubbish - just do it like this...." Enter 60 years of sharpening experience and muscle memory. "Yes but dad, people who start off on their own really struggle to do that. " " bloody snowflakes...." I quietly exit stage left out of his workshop ...]
 
These are good. Usually about £10. Only for slotted plane blades but helps beginners get their eye in on angles and able to do it freehand in the traditional way (easier, faster, cheaper).

PS it's not about "muscle memory" whatever that it, it's about visualising 30º reasonably accurately.

Screenshot 2024-02-07 at 08.21.12.png
 
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I bought the Richard Kell No 2 after the same problem of finding a good quality Eclipse style guide. The clones that I came across all had negative reviews for accuracy, and though I baulked at the price I felt this was a buy once tool.

I'm a hand tool novice and I only recently learnt how to adjust and maintain a plane on a weekend joinery course so my experience may not be that helpful. Having used an original Eclipse guide on the course, it did seem well designed and easy to use. I would not say that the No 2 is that fiddly. It seems very well machined, and over the course of restoring a primary bevel it never lost tightness. What I did find though is that ergonomically it is not as easy to grip as the Eclipse and my hand did tire quite regularly. The other possible negative is the width, but I bought into the scary sharpening system which meant I could cut the film to the required width. I don't know how well suited it would be to stones.
 
A lot of years ago I bought an original Eclipse honing guide after my 'doing it by eye' efforts were useless. It was a great help, but the tendency then is always to use the guide rather than trying to 'hone my skills' so to speak. It served me well, but some years ago I bought a Veritas MKII guide for reasons that escape me. I find it a fiddle to use and its use is confined to when I decide to have a mass sharpening event that makes it worth the bother. It doesn't do the job better than the Eclipse though IMO.
At 75 I doubt I'll ever get to grips with freehand sharpening. The old fella who once lived next-door to us had done a 7-year apprenticeship as a Joiner and his day-to-day chisels were well worn Stanley ones with blue plastic handles. They, and his ancient No. 4 plane, had many scars and a few blobs of paint or hardened putty on them, but all were sharpened freehand and were invariably razor sharp.
 
These are good. Usually about £10. Only for slotted plane blades but helps beginners get their eye in on angles and able to do it freehand in the traditional way (easier, faster, cheaper).

PS it's not about "muscle memory" whatever that it, it's about visualising 30º reasonably accurately.

View attachment 175318
That's what I use. It's so quick to setup to it's pointles not to use. Chisels by hand but occasionally I use a Veritas MKII.
 
I use my 8" grinder to hollow grind the edge, then a few passes on a bench stone or two to clean up the edge. The tip and rear of the hollow register on the stone and no honing guide is needed. Touchup on the bench stone as needed until it gets to the point where is doesn't register anymore, then touchup on the grinder again. It's takes a long time between grinding sessions.

Pete
 
Have you searched eBay for an original eclipse jig? I bought one a few years back to give as a gift, in pretty much mint condition, and IIRC quite reasonably priced.
Great idea, just bought one. £11.50 delivered. Not sure if it'll be any better than the one I've got but worth a shot.

Regarding freehand sharpening, I would love to acquire this skill but to me it feels like marginal gains (ok you don't have to set up the iron in a guide, but you still have to get your stones out + strop + lubricant + cloth). Plus the impact of getting freehand sharpening wrong is so time consuming to rectify (back to the grinder, through the stones again). If I was more than a hobbyist I'd definitely invest the time, but I'm more interested in making things in the limited time I have available for woodworking.
 
Great idea, just bought one. £11.50 delivered. Not sure if it'll be any better than the one I've got but worth a shot.

Regarding freehand sharpening, I would love to acquire this skill but to me it feels like marginal gains (ok you don't have to set up the iron in a guide, but you still have to get your stones out + strop + lubricant + cloth). Plus the impact of getting freehand sharpening wrong is so time consuming to rectify (back to the grinder, through the stones again). If I was more than a hobbyist I'd definitely invest the time, but I'm more interested in making things in the limited time I have available for woodworking.
Much of woodwork involves much higher skill levels than simply honing a blade at 30º. If you really can't do it you'd be absolutely useless at woodwork! Maybe you shouldn't give up so easily and talk yourself out of these basic simple skills.
 
Ha, point taken. Still not convinced that it's an absolutely necessary skill. I mean, I learned how to flatten large boards by hand using a No 7 plane, but now rarely use that skill since I have a planer. I do appreciate the pep talk though, got my eye on one of those honing angle guides on ebay so may pull the trigger as only about £10.
 
A planer is faster than a plane, but a honing guide is *much* slower than freehand.

I used to use a honing guide, got fed up with blades falling out, being too wide/narrow, tightening them up, adjusting them etc. but for a long time I fought with them before eventually getting bored and giving up.

Have a play with the following, just for fun…

If you use an oilstone, look at the oil just in front of the edge. Place the bevel on the stone. As you lift the rear of the iron up to find the edge, the oil changes in the light as it gets pushed forwards. Lift up a smidge and you are on the edge. Might work with a water stone too, I’ve not tried it.

In non-natural light you can use a skinny feeler gauge and try to push it under the edge on the stone. If it goes under, you are on the bevel. Feeler rides up the blade, you are on the edge.

Pretty soon you just get a feel for it and find that perfect honing angle very quickly - which may not be 25deg.

Another useful indicator is the sound of the blade against the stone. When you are correctly on the edge, it makes a different sound, and the iron vibrates differently in your hand. You’d never get this with a noisy honing guide.

Sorry I know you want a honing guide - get one by all means.
 
Ha, point taken. Still not convinced that it's an absolutely necessary skill. I mean, I learned how to flatten large boards by hand using a No 7 plane, but now rarely use that skill since I have a planer.
Well no, but if you are using hand tools for many of them honing is very similar to keeping a kitchen knife sharp - you just give it a few strokes with a steel, quite often. Stays sharp forever unless you forget to do it, then you have to look at a more aggressive method.
e.g. working with a chisel you don't have to even put it down you just give it a quick pass over your oil stone every now and then. For the rest of your life!
I do appreciate the pep talk though, got my eye on one of those honing angle guides on ebay so may pull the trigger as only about £10.
Might help get your eye in at 30º perhaps
 
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