Introduction: How to Make a Magnetic Honing Guide (For Sharpening Chisels & Hand Planes) | DIY Woodworking Tools #5

Picture of How to Make a Magnetic Honing Guide (For Sharpening Chisels & Hand Planes) | DIY Woodworking Tools #5

"When the [wood's] grain tears out, I wanna tear my hair out." - Gmoon

While this problem does not occur because of Trichotillomania, It definitely does happen because you aren't sharpening your Hand-Planes correctly.

An easy way to hold a Hand-Plane, Or a Chisel in place while sharpening, Is by using a special, But simple tool called a Honing Guide. Unfortunately, These can be pretty expensive, And I didn't want to wait a whole month for one to arrive from China (From eBay).

I decided to make my own, With parts that I had laying around.

Let's get started!

Step 1: What You'll Need:

Picture of What You'll Need:

Hardware & Materials:

8 PCS of 10X15mm Neodymium Magnets

A Small Plastic Wheel w/ a Metal Base Plate

Chemicals & Adhesives:

CA Glue (Super Glue)

Alcohol Pad

Some Water

Tools (+Attachments):

Hand-Plane or Chisel that needs to be sharpened

Sharpening Stone: Water-Stone, Oil-Stone, Diamond Stone, Or Sandpaper


Metal File


Why: I need a Honing Guide!

Safety Gear Needed: Safety Glasses, & A Ventilated Environment

Cost (for me): $0.85

Needed Skills: Basic

Approximate Time: 15 minutes

Step 2: Make Sure All of Your Tools Get Attracted to Magnets

Picture of Make Sure All of Your Tools Get Attracted to Magnets

Because this Honing Guide holds blades with a magnet, I had to make sure all of my Hand-Plane Blades and Chisels get attracted to a magnet. I used an HDD magnet to show it for the picture.

If all of them get attracted by a magnet, Which I'm pretty sure they should all do, That's great, And you can move on to the next step!

Step 3: Roughen the Wheel's Base Plate W/ a File

Picture of Roughen the Wheel's Base Plate W/ a File

I used a file to roughen the Base Plate of the Wheel. This is to make adhesives adhere to it better (More on that in the next steps). Several strokes on the Base Plate should do.

To make the job easier, I clamped the wheel in my vise so it wouldn't move around

Step 4: Lay Out the Magnets

Picture of Lay Out the Magnets

Before I started gluing the magnets, I decided to lay them out properly.

First, I arranged all eight magnets on the Wheel's Base Plate, And then I transferred to a piece of metal. Coincidentally, I used my Hand-Plane's Blade because it was just a piece of metal that was on my table.

The reason for why I was able to do this easily is because the magnets get attracted with more power to the Hand-Plane's Blade. Probably because it's made of a different type of metal...

Step 5: Clean Off the Magnets & Base Plate

Picture of Clean Off the Magnets & Base Plate

After quite a bit of experimenting and touching the Base Plate and magnets, Their surfaces become oily and dirty from your skin (Your skin will still be oily after you wash it).

Unfortunately, This stops adhesives from adhering well to the materials.

I quickly wiped the Wheel's Base Plate, And all eight magnets with an Alcohol Pad. The surfaces should become shiny.

Trust me, You do not want to skip this step when using most adhesives...

Step 6: Glue the Magnets to the Wheel's Base Plate W/ CA Glue

Picture of Glue the Magnets to the Wheel's Base Plate W/ CA Glue

After experimenting quite a bit, I decided that: Cyanoacrylate Glue was right for the job!

CA Glue works best when applied in a super thin coat. This means that I put a tiny drop on each magnet, And clamped it together with a lot of force, Using my hands, Of course!

While CA Glue is supposed to cure in a few seconds, I gave it several minutes because I was hungry...

Step 7: Soaking My Water-Stone in Water (How-To: Step #1)

Picture of Soaking My Water-Stone in Water (How-To: Step #1)

Because I am relatively new in woodworking, I still haven't had the chance to buy some good stones*. Unfortunately, I have only one very low Grit Water-Stone**

Obviously, You can also use an Oil-Stone, Diamond Stone, Or Sandpaper too!

I soaked my stone for about ten minutes, Though this will probably depend on your type of stone...

* My questions to my experienced viewers: What type of stone should I buy? What Grits do you recommend? What is the cheapest and most effective? What is the best for beginners?

**If you are a company that wants to support me by changing that, Feel free to send me a Private Message! :)

Step 8: Place Your Blades in the Honing Guide Correctly (How-To: Step #2)

Picture of Place Your Blades in the Honing Guide Correctly (How-To: Step #2)

If the bevel on your Hand-Plane or Chisel's Blade is set correctly, Here is a link to a great video on how set it up. Even though they used a store bought Honing Guide (They have also worded the title incorrectly), The process is still the same

If the bevel on your Hand-Plane or Chisel's Blade is not set correctly, You can measure it to make sure. This also applies if you are making your own Tool Blades...

Step 9: Move the Honing Guide Back & Forth Across the Sharpening Stone (How-To: #3)

Picture of Move the Honing Guide Back & Forth Across the Sharpening Stone (How-To: #3)

There are many different ways to use a Honing Guide for sharpening Hand-Plane Blades and Chisels-- Each person can choose their own method.

In my opinion, This is a great video on how to use one. If you need any help, You can always refer to the pictures, Or ask in the comment section of this Instructable

Step 10: Testing It Out-- Does It Work?

Picture of Testing It Out-- Does It Work?

Well... Of course... I can't just finish the Instructable without showing any pictures!

I was able to remove and achieve surprisingly good strips of wood. Though, Unfortunately, I do not know what type of wood I used to make these.

I'm pretty sure all I need now is a finer grit sharpening stone to make them even thinner :)



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gumby_kevbo (author)2017-11-06

An alternative to stones:

Go to a glass shop and have them cut you some slabs of 1/2 or 3/4" "float" glass. You don't need tempered glass. Use a cheap stone to to lightly bevel the corners to make them safe. Have the blocks made a bit larger than 1/3 of a sheet of sandpaper.

To these you can use rubber cement to glue any grit of wet/dry sandpaper. When it gets clogged, just replace it. Much easier than trying to restore a real stone to flat.

Float glass isn't guaranteed flat, but it is plenty close for woodworking, and better than even a lightly worn stone.

You can use larger slabs of glass and lay several grits of paper next to each other for sharpening plane irons...but individual "stones" are easier if you need to hand hold them, or get in near the hilt on a knife or such.

There is a process for grinding three glass slabs against each other if you want it super flat for machinist surface plate or optical can get it down to a fraction of light wavelengths if you want to invest the effort, but your sandpaper won't be that consistent.

GaryG54 (author)gumby_kevbo2017-12-10

Instead of glass, get a 12x12” marble or granite tile. Lowes and Home Depot sell them by the piece. No sharp edges.

Yonatan24 (author)gumby_kevbo2017-11-06

You might not even need to glue it down with contact cement. I think it would make for a mess to remove, how about clamping it down to the glass and stretching it somehow?

Perhaps clamping one side of the sandpaper to the glass, and then clamping/sandwiching it between two long pieces of wood, and then a different clamp stretches it... Does that even make sense?

paul the maker (author)2017-03-29

great idea man i love it

Yonatan24 (author)paul the maker2017-03-31


bananof (author)2016-05-16

Don't work for me.

Even ujsing strong magnets, the blade (chisel) moves enough to make the sharpening irregular.

Yonatan24 (author)bananof2016-05-17

Really? What magnets did you use? I think you should try these.

bananof (author)Yonatan242016-05-17

I use neodyn magnets .5mmx12mm

4 or 6 pieces.

Yonatan24 (author)bananof2016-05-17


Add more magnets!

You can also add a piece of sandpaper between the magnets and the chisel. Just glue it against the magnets and it should prevent the blade from slipping by increasing the friction coefficient.

Or use stronger magnets! Maybe something like silicone could increase the friction, if needed.

Joedproctor (author)2016-05-27

Just because an idea is simple, does not mean it is a bad idea. Blown away by how simple and effective this is. Great job, and thanks for sharing.

Yonatan24 (author)Joedproctor2016-05-30

Glad you liked it!

Meglymoo87 (author)2016-05-19

Good job, like usual ;)

Yonatan24 (author)Meglymoo872016-05-20

Thank You!

tomferi (author)2016-05-16

Thanks for the idea>

Yonatan24 (author)tomferi2016-05-16

Glad you liked it!

bekirarslan (author)2016-05-15

Wonderful idea!

Yonatan24 (author)bekirarslan2016-05-16

Thank You!

I MP (author)2016-05-15

Being a YouTube student of Paul Sellers I use strips of wet and dry sandpaper to sharpen and polish my cutting blades. I start with 220 grit, move to 600 grit then finish with 1200 grit. I use a spray adhesive to secure them to a 12" X 12" piece of granite flooring from Home Depot. I then strop them on a piece of scrap leather glued to a piece of scrap wood.

Yonatan24 (author)I MP2016-05-16

Oooh, You're lucky! ;)

Interesting, But isn't sandpaper more expensive in the long term? (I'm looking for the method with the lowest cost)

jimcathers made it! (author)2016-05-14

How did you figure out that the 1 inch fixed top caster would make the perfect angle when slid all the way to down the blades of my chisels?!? I made this yesterday and I'm shocked at how much better this is than any honing guide i've used before. There's even a factory machined notch on my blades (pictured) where the metal caster body butts up with a little *click* sound and this happens to be the position where the beveled side of the edge is perfectly flush with the sharpening stone... Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing!

Yonatan24 (author)jimcathers2016-05-15

I didn't! To set the correct sharpening angle, You have to slide the wheel back and forth (Millimeter by millimeter...) until you get the right angle:

If you move closer to the handle ➡ You'll have a sharper angle (Is this the correct term?)

If you move closer to the bevel ➡ You'll have a less sharper Bevel (Incorrect term? Again?), If you want to add a Micro-Bevel, You will need to move the Honing Guide closer to the Bevel.

For short, Just adjust it so the all of the Bevel comes in contact with the Sharpening Stone...

This works the same as a regular honing guide, Except that magnets hold the Chisel in place-- Not jaws...

I didn't figure it out, It's just all I had :)

Really? :) It's that good? It works very well for me, But I've never used a real Honing Guide, So I can't compare it...

I've sent you a Private Message with the Free 3-Month PRO Membership Code with the Private Messaging System-- Please let me know when you receive it :)

There is actually a very simple way to ensure you get the perfect angles every time - I have made two of these, one for chisels and one for plane blades (different lengths required for each angle) and it's as simple as butt the honing guide to the front of the jig and place the chisel or plane blade so the tip hits the endstop on the jig.

Yes, Thanks, I've seen that.

Infact, The video at Step #8 shows how to do that.

Ag800Hans (author)2016-05-15

For lack of input/feedback for your finished product (since i havent made one yet, but plan to, bcuz this seems so brilliant - easy AND economical), all i can say rt now is thank you for documenting this experiment, step by step, and sharing it w/the rest of us. Im sure this will help many woodworkers out there, from beginners to the highly experienced. One last thing - using my novice experience, i think im looking at maple wood in that last pic, w/the clamped wood on edge grain. Maybe another can confirm. Maple isnt the easiest to plane, either, & if your plane is taking nice shavings from maple, u got yourself a winner, there. Keep up the great work, & now i will be checking out your other instructables. One last last thing - what category would i vote this for? Aloha!

Yonatan24 (author)Ag800Hans2016-05-15


The wood from the last step was scavenged from a 15+ year old small shipping crate, So I don't think it's some kind of expensive wood. I was actually wondering what kind of wood it was, And it smelled slightly like Pine.

The smell is pretty weak, But I guess that's because it's pretty old. (I'm comparing it to the very strong smell of the Pine that I used here)

Oh, The contests have closed, But thank you for your interest. I have entered some of my other Instructables in other contests though (Hint-Hint! )

bruce.desertrat (author)2016-05-15

Brilliant! In fact I think I have everything I need in my junk box, including some seriously dull chisels and plane blades!

Thanks! Don't forget to share some pictures if you make it! :)

neversleep49 (author)2016-05-15

Great idea

Yonatan24 (author)neversleep492016-05-15

Thank You!

neversleep49 (author)2016-05-15

Great idea

FabricioF1 (author)2016-05-15

Terribly simple, low cost and effective. Nice idea.

Yonatan24 (author)FabricioF12016-05-15

Glad you liked it! Thanks!

joeradish (author)2016-05-15

I love this. Nice job

Yonatan24 (author)joeradish2016-05-15

Thanks! Glad you liked it!

JuanO34 (author)2016-05-15


Yonatan24 (author)JuanO342016-05-15

Thank You!

crank_girl (author)2016-05-15

This is great - so simple yet effective. I'm hopeless at sharpening my tools so this will be a prized addition to my toolbox.

Yonatan24 (author)crank_girl2016-05-15

Thanks! Glad you liked it! Don't forget to post a picture when you make it!

(̶I̶'̶l̶l̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶w̶i̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶I̶'̶m̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶s̶e̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶s̶h̶a̶r̶p̶e̶n̶i̶n̶g̶!)̶

Yonatan24 (author)2016-05-09

Do you want a FREE PRO Membership?

I'm giving a FREE 3-Months PRO Membership to the first member that makes their own Magnetic Honing Guide!

What you have to do to be able to receive the free membership:

1. Follow me on Instructables

2. Reply to this message with pictures of the end result (And any explanations, If you want)

3. Nothing! I will PM you the free code!

Come-on, Let's make something!

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242016-05-15


I have already given the Free PRO Membership to jimcathers.

Meanwhile, You can check out some of my other projects-- I have more open giveaways on My Other Instructables!

imakeembetter (author)2016-05-09

very nice! to answer your questions, two cheap sources of decent whetstones are, old or new grinding wheels, just use the side, and natural stone, almost any stone that scratches your steel will do, but look for one with a very fine grain, and very few or zero voids, to dress a natural, or badly worn stone (both can be had for free,) take three stones of the same material, and under water lap stone 1 and stone 2 together in a small figure 8 pattern, until somewhat flat, then lap stone 1 and 3, then stone 2 and 3, rotate 90 or 180 degrees and repeat, repeat as necessary, this method will work with any stone, and with some practice will yield three stones as flat as their material will allow, the three plate method is an awesome tool.

Yonatan24 (author)imakeembetter2016-05-10

Thank You! I will try to find more stones. Does it really mteer if they're made of the same material? Is it better in any way?

imakeembetter (author)Yonatan242016-05-12

when truing or making new stones you want the grit and the hardness of each stone to be as close to each other as possible, as the hardest stone will cut the softer stones more, and the largest grit will tend to flatten on top, reducing it's effectiveness.

Yonatan24 (author)imakeembetter2016-05-13

I don't understand exactly what you mean by "the hardest stone will cut the softer stones more"...(?)

Also "largest grit will tend to flatten on top, reducing it's effectiveness."-- Top of what? The backside of the blade? What effectiveness of what? :)

imakeembetter (author)Yonatan242016-05-14

opps, sorry, I wasn't very clear their was I? to clarify, when a smaller grit is used to grind a larger grit the smaller grit will grind a flat on the largest grit itself. this leaves the roughness of the two averaged out not nessisarly a problem, but it can be annoying. the hardness of the materials should be as close as possible because the softer material will wear much quicker, then the harder, leaving you with one curvy(3d curves) surface with a few flats and one wavy(2d) surface.

Yonatan24 (author)imakeembetter2016-05-15

Thank you, I'm pretty sure I understand what you mean... :)

also, I recommend every grit you can get your hands on, it wouldn't do to have found a stash of abused high quality chisels and not have an effective method of fixing them.

Yonatan24 (author)imakeembetter2016-05-10

Yup! Definitely! I have my Great Grandpa's Hand-Plane, Which definitely needs to be fxed!

About This Instructable




Bio: 15 year old, sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!
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