Honing Guide


I found myself in need of a honing guide. I didn’t have a honing guide. I wondered how practical it would be to make one myself? They seem like simple enough devices. I found this tutorial on youtube and figured this might be something I can do:

Thing is, I didn’t have enough of the pieces lying around. So I let it go and set out for the hardware store. On the way, Adrienne and I came upon a door that was out on the curb for the trash to pick up. And Lo! The hinges were still on it. Old, janky hinges. We managed to pry them off (okay, we kicked them off). I wasn’t even sure the store had what I wanted, so we resolved to get what we needed doe a DIY version if they didn’t. Sure enough they didn’t carry honing guides, but they had everything else we needed. Came out to less than I would have paid for a basic new honing guide. Win!

A pair of bolts, some hex nuts and wing nuts, nipple for the bearing (just using one), and a length of brass tubing. I have some scrap wood for the guide’s body.


First things first, I need to disassemble and clean the hinge. A pair of locking pliers loosened the rusty crusty pin.


A little bit of WD-40 and a whole lot of elbow grease, and the hinge is starting to show its true colors.


Turns out it’s American made. Always a nice bonus.


I got a bit tired of scrubbing with sandpaper, so out came the Dremel. The brass turned out to be a finish, revealing steel underneath.


The Dremel was handy once again, this time for cutting out the middle ferrule of the hinge.


There is now room for a length of tubing, which will be the wheel of the guide.


Two pieces of scrap wood from previous projects: On top, a piece of maple that was going to be a cigar box guitar neck (left it out to dry, landlord thought it was trash and broke it). On the bottom, some pine from an Ikea some-thing-or-other somebody was throwing out.


I figre the thin piece can go on the bottom and the thicker pine on top.


I mark off the width of the maple, so I can cut the pine to match.


Time for more power tools! The jigsaw did a lovely job.



Are they absolutely square and true? Meh. That’s okay, it’ll suit.


the wood body is a bit too wide, still. I want this thing to be manageable in the hand. Back to the jigsaw…


Much better. Next up, I mark where the bolts are gonna go through and sandwich the hinge, wood, and tool to be honed.


Wood is clamped down and ready to drill. I like to start small and slowly work up to the right sized bit. It takes longer but it ensures clean drilling.


Finally! the bolt fits right in there.


Here’s the wood, bolted to the hinge. Looking good. Now to make the roller assembly. This is more pipe than I need, but I’m sure I can find another project for it.


I want a fairly close fit to the gap.


This was my first time using a pipe cutter. It’s one of the tools Adrienne brought into the relationship. Turns out it’s easy enough.



The pipe’s a good fit. Needs a bearing.


There might be a better way to do this, but I’m following the methods in the video for now. I need to make up the difference between the nipple, which fits snugly around the pin, and the brass pipe. To do this, I’ll be wrapping the nipple in waxed twine.

IMG_5190 IMG_5191

Laying a length of thread parallel to the nipple keeps it in place.


All done, and the wrapped nipple fits snugly into the pipe.

IMG_5193 IMG_5194

Full assembly reveals that there’s not quite enough clearance between the pipe and the edge of the hinge.


I ground away the edge with my Dremel, then filed off the burr to smooth it out. You can see the improved clearance.

IMG_5196 IMG_5197

Almost there…one thing that would improve this device is allowing the two wood pieces to sit flush. The hex nuts that hold the hinge to the bottom piece of wood are in the way.

IMG_5198 IMG_5199

Man, I wish I had a countersink bit…but I don’t so, I used whatever larger bits I found in the tool box. Not a very clean job, but nobody sees the inside. Besides, it worked.

IMG_5200 IMG_5201

And there she blows, the completed honing guide. Time for a test!


I have this old chisel lying around. It’s not a standard bevel-edged chisel, but it’s pretty, English made, and in serious need of honing.


The first thing I find is that there’s just enough wiggle on the roller for it to hit the wood and get stuck.


I took a woodcarving chisel to the edge and carved a bevel. That seemed to improve things.


This chisel was pretty funky to begin with, but I’m getting a decent edge on it. Yay!


Final thoughts: the pin tends to fall out if not tended to. Also, the roller assembly isn’t as smooth as I’d like.You have to be careful about lining up the blade at the correct angle, and making sure it’s square to the guide. I’m not really sure this device compares all that well to a professional honing guide. At least it was fun to make! I used it on a block plane’s cutting iron and it did a decent job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *