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How to Use a Honing Guide

Updated February 21, 2017

For those who use woodworking tools, specifically chisels or other flat shaping tools, sharpening these tools is an ongoing process. Contrary to popular belief, sharp tools are much safer than dull tools during use. A dull chisel can easily slip and cause damage to your project or cause physical harm. To sharpen these tools effectively, honing guides are used to keep the cutting edge held at a precise angle, optimising the sharpening process. Honing guides come in many different models, with different angle alignment capabilities, but are all used in a universal fashion.

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  1. Slide the blade into the honing guide blade carrier. Depending on the model of honing guide you own, this can be done several ways. Typically, an area will be clearly marked where you slide your blade though, then you clamp the blade into position by turning two to four screw-knobs, depending on the model.

  2. Select the bevel angle that you want to sharpen your blade at. Most chisels are bevelled at 25 degrees, but depending on your model you may select a bevel preset by moving a bevel selector switch to the appropriate setting. Other models will have a rotary knob that--when turned--will position the chisel into your selected bevel. Bevel readings can be written out in their corresponding angles, along with hash marks on some honing guides.

  3. Place the chisel and honing guide, right side up, onto a flat sharpening surface. You can use a diamond sharpener, whetstone or oil-stone if you prefer, as long as it's a flat, broad, rectangular-shaped stone.

  4. Hold the honing guide by the grip. Most honing guides have a contoured design to lay your hand on to ease in sharpening. Move the honing guide back and forth until you've edged the chisel to your satisfaction, then flip the chisel to the other side, and sharpen in a back-and-forth motion until the blade is completely sharpened. Some honing guide models will allow you to keep the chisel inserted and to flip the guide and the chisel all at once to sharpen the other edge.

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