Introduction: Hand Made Knife Sharpening Jig

Picture of Hand Made Knife Sharpening Jig

I have seen some jigs on the internet for giving a knife blank a "grind" or profile.  This is the step before the final edge that is used for cutting.   I have started to work scrap metal into knives, so I thought I would try my hand at making  one of these jigs.

I wanted it to 1)  fit my small work bench  / project  table,  2) be inexpensive, 3) be easy to construct, 4)  really work!

Step 1: Wooden Base Assembly

Picture of Wooden Base Assembly

My first step was to gather some scraps of wood.  I had oak  on hand.  I think anything would work as long as it is not warped.  Plywood would be fine, too.

I cut the pieces to form a "T".

I cut the long  piece  to fit across my work table, so I could clamp the finished "T"  top and bottom.

A board was placed across the top of the "T"  pilot holes drilled, then screwed together.

Step 2: Metal Materials

Picture of Metal Materials

I had some old shelf brackets around.  I knew I could use these to brace the jig in its final form.  But I needed two pieces of "L" shaped utility steel.  Found them at Lowes.

I used small boltds and nuts to fasten the braces to the "L" steel.

The view from the back shows how this gives a "U" shaped profile if viewed from above.

I used clamps to hold the entire assembly to the table.

Step 3: Knife Placement, Use of the Rod

Picture of Knife Placement, Use of the Rod

I clamped a small portable vise over the long end of the wooden "T"  and over the table top to secure that end of the jig. 

Next, I screwed  my knife blank to a piece of wood, and placed this in the vise.

I used a 3/8" steel rod as the angle guide for the jig.

Place the rod in one of the jig holes and check for the desired grind angle.

Step 4: Placing and Using the File

Picture of Placing and Using the File

To use the jig, place a metal file under the rod and on top of the knife.

By changing the placement of the rod in the hole, you can change the angle of the file "grind"

Step 5: Using the Jig 1

Picture of Using the Jig 1

I made a knife blank from a circular saw blade. I put a fairly fine edge on the blade with sandpaper sharpening. I don't mind the time it takes. But the blade still didn't cut the way I wanted. The angle of the cutting edge and the over all profile of the blade edge didn't taper enough. The transition from edge to steel blade was too abrupt. My goal was to give the blade a more gradual transition. In my way of thinking about the blade, I needed to take some of the shoulder off the profile. First step was to mark the edge with marker. I didn't want to mess up the sharp edge that was already there.

I laid out the coarse and medium files I would be using.

I also added numbers to the holes in the jig so I could keep track of where I was in the sharpening steps.

Step 6: Using the Jig 2

Picture of Using the Jig 2

I started in hole # 2 with the coarse file.

Someone asked if I taped the file to the rod.  No, I found that placing a hand on each end of the file was fine. 

In the next picture, I  hope you can see what the file was able to take away. The edge remains untouched.

Step 7: Using the Jig 3

Picture of Using the Jig 3

I moved the rod up to the next hole and kept using the coarse file. In these steps I counted 12 strokes for each level, all the way up to #10. I kept watching to make sure that I still had a slight indication of marker.

Then I switched to the medium file and repeated the steps above.

Next I switched to a sandpaper -covered block.

Step 8: Finish

Picture of Finish

I could tell that it was working well as I repeated the steps with the sandpaper.

The blade was nicely reprofiled and ready for and sharpening for an even finer edge.

I could have also increased the grit and continued using the jig...



charlietophat (author)2016-12-29

How did you attach the file to the jig?¿

deebee2u (author)charlietophat2016-12-29

The file is only held by hand. I wear protective gloves, by holding the file with two hands it seems to work well for me.

theouro (author)2011-01-31

Thats amazing! very creative!

deebee2u (author)theouro2016-12-29


maxman (author)2011-02-06

Do you work down one side of the blade then flip it over and do the other side? If so, how do you make sure you are working eachside equally?

deebee2u (author)maxman2016-12-29

I file down to the center line of the steel edge.

deebee2u (author)maxman2011-02-07

Good Question
Yes. I can realign the blade after flip over by keeping the blade parallel to the edge of the block of wood. I eye ball the parallel aliignment.

bradster2256 (author)2011-02-06

I learned from my grandpa when I was young to use a stone by hand...not to be mean or anything but what if you need to sharpen your knives somewhere other than your workshop...I'd recommend buying some cheap knives dulling the hell out of them then learn to sharpen your knives on a stone by hand. It's a good skill to have. some interesting things you can use to sharpen your knives car Windows , the cocking serations on your glock ( the Austrian army does it all the time ) , ceramic pottery , and the bottom of certain glass bottles.

deebee2u (author)bradster22562016-12-29

Great ideas. But this jig is used only to profile steel into the angle needed for a knife blade. After that I hand sharpen too

deebee2u (author)bradster22562011-02-07

Thanks for your reply... I agree with you.

However I made the jig to profile the blade of hand made knives. This is sharpening in the most general sense. Not the final steps with I like to do by hand as you can read in the last photo of the Instructable: "Ready for hand sharpening / strop."

earlye (author)bradster22562011-02-07

This isn't about putting a final edge on the blade, but about getting a profile ready for final sharpening. See his last step...

Pokololo (author)2011-02-06

I can see how confusing it may be as I wondered the same thing, I think what sawtooth1953 is asking is do you use the file under the rod like a pendulem going along the knife edge? or do you use the file like a hacksaw useing the full lenth of the file?

If I may paraphrase, sawtooth1953 it would be more like your just using the file to sharpen the knife on it's own holding the file at each end like a motorcycle handlebar, and the rod is just a guide to keep you steady on the angle

I hope this helps

deebee2u (author)Pokololo2016-12-29

The jig maintains a constant angle toward the bland-something I find difficult to do with out the support of the rod.

deebee2u (author)Pokololo2011-02-07

I wear protective gloves, hold the file with two hands one at each end of the file. The rod stabilizes the grip and keeps the file aligned. I only push the file from the edge toward the spine. Never "saw" with a file. The pendulum idea will not work.

makingcustomknives (author)2011-02-09

This is an excellent idea for cutting a consistent bevel. Kudos.

Thank you

Malhecho (author)2011-10-05

i think i might build one to get my machete sharp. i just cant nail the angle. how much pressure do you typically use?

deebee2u (author)Malhecho2016-12-29

You apply what is needed to file the metal not too much not too little. You get the hang of it.

paracordsoldier (author)2015-01-25

when you are filing down to get your profile you can mark the center of the steel with a drill bit that is the same size as the steel you are working with. lay the bit on its side and scribe the cutting edge and that can give you your center line to keep you even

Ortzinator (author)2013-01-12

Any idea how to clamp the knife when it has a handle?

bcavaciuti (author)Ortzinator2014-05-23

I would wrap the knife in a cloth or plastic bag then either zip tie or hose clamp the blade down. for a more permanent/frequent use clamp you could chisel and file two pieces of wood into the perfect slot to take your knife maybe line with felt or rubber to protect the handle then bolt or clamp them together and voila consistent knife sharping. You could also cut the clamp out of an old tire but you have to make sure it doesnt rock at all.

Phil B (author)2011-02-01

This is a nice home adaptation of the Lansky knife sharpening system. I had thought about how to do an adaptation of their system, but yours is a better, more versatile system than anything I had imagined for myself.

deebee2u (author)Phil B2011-02-03

I've never seen a "Lansky system"...??

Phil B (author)deebee2u2011-02-03

Here is a photo of the Lansky knife sharpening system in use.  Here is a link to buy one.  They have different models at different prices, depending on how many stones come with the set and whether they are a common abrasive or diamond. 

Dave54321 (author)Phil B2012-01-21

Miss Popular Mechanics ? Well they are all on line

For this example I chose (Jigsaw),or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=ce37751bc6e5d6d6&biw=1007&bih=611&bs=1

You can look up magazines from before you were born
Happy Reading Phil
from a old fan of Popular Mechanic Mag's

Phil B (author)Dave543212012-01-21

Thanks. I did an Instructable on some great home workshop projects in some of those magazines. Click on this link.

deebee2u (author)Phil B2011-02-01


Foxtrot70 (author)deebee2u2011-02-04

After looking at this it appears that this could be scaled up to handle axes of any size. A really nice finished edge is accomplished with this. Great Instructable!

Topcat2021 (author)2011-02-03

Good Job your jig looks very useful, I think that I'll make one of these myself as I have a few good candidates in the shop that need some attention.
Keep up the good work

sawtooth1953 (author)2011-02-02

Creative, indeed!
You wrote: "To use the jig, place a metal file under the rod and on top of the knife." and "By changing the placement of the rod in the hole, you can change the angle of the file "grind"."

I was wondering how long the file should sit under the rod and on top of the knife in order for the knife to become sharp. Just kidding... there has to be some technique of holding the flat file against the round rod, no? It seems like the file would slip easily unless taped to the rod, no? Maybe a pic or two showing a knife being sharpened?


deebee2u (author)sawtooth19532011-02-03

I have found that all I need to do is hold the file with two hands - one at either end of the file. The file does not slip. Hand grip alone has worked very well. I too thought that I would have to tape the file in place. Perhaps this would work if you wanted to only use one hand.

MadBricoleur (author)2011-02-02

wow, very useful.

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