Instructables
Picture of Knife Sharpening Jig
Here's how I made a jig to hold my sharpening stones.  For years I have sharpened my knives on a bench stone (with the stone resting on a table or "work bench"), and most of the time, I'd hold the stone in my hand. 

I didn't like having the stone flat on the table, so most of the time, I'd hand hold the stone.  After cutting my fingers on more than one occasion, I decided I should figure out a safer way to do this. 

If you are sharpening free hand, many of you already know it's very difficult to get the right angle while sharpening your stone.  So not only is this jig a safer way to sharpen your knife, it also helps you get the right angle every time.

 
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Step 1: Supplies and tools

Picture of Supplies and tools
IMG_3559.JPG
Here are the supplies and tools you'll need:

1.  Some scrap wood.  Note:  Your main structure of wood should be slightly LESS in width than your stone.  For example, my sharpening stones are exactly 2 inches in width.  My wood is 1 and 15/16 inches in width. 

2.  A chop saw (aka a miter saw).  In order to get the right angle, you really need to use a chop saw.

3.  A drill and a couple drywall screws.  Or some epoxy and clamp.

4.  A jigsaw, scroll saw or similar hand held saw to cut the side supports.

5.  Sharpening stones.  These are the ones I use (See attached):  A Norton's Combination IB8 Coarse/Fine India Stone.  If you're looking for a good all purpose stone, I'd recommend this or something similar.  I paid $16 for it.   I also use a Spyderco Ceramic Whet Stone Fine Grit.  This is probably unnecessary for day to day use, but by finishing up with this stone, I can get my knife razor sharp - sharp enough to shave the hair from my arm.

6.  A good knife.  It's hard to get a good edge with a knife made of poor quality metal.  My favorite knife, the one I carry almost every day, is a Benchmade Griptilian Mini. (See attached)
plantprof10 months ago
"hold the knife at a 90 degree angle"-- relative to the bench/table top? How do you maintain that angle consistently or accurately freehand? [At least more effectively than doing it with a stone simply placed flat on the bench, or even holding the jig in your hand.] Isn't there slight variation/wobble in the down-stroke that gives you only a relative angle of 22 degrees? Did you waterproof or finish the wood so water used in honing wouldn't mess it up [or oil runoff be easier to wipe away]? Nice, easy, and effective build! I, too, have your dad's admonition echoing in my ears [and my son probably does as well from me--the gift that keeps on giving! ;) ] Good job!
gpierson (author)  plantprof10 months ago
Hi, thanks for the comments.  Some follow up...90 degrees relative to the bench/table top? Right, hold the knife at a 90 degree angle relative to the bench/table top.  Or better, hold it "vertically".

How do you maintain that angle consistently or accurately freehand?   Isn't there slight variation/wobble in the down-stroke that gives you only a relative angle of 22 degrees?  You answered your own question!  You can't maintain the angle perfectly, but certainly, "more effectively than doing it with a stone simply placed flat on the bench, or even holding the jig in your hand."

Did you waterproof or finish the wood so water used in honing wouldn't mess it up [or oil runoff be easier to wipe away]?  Good question.  I thought about doing this, but realized it was unnecessary for my MO in sharpening.  I read somewhere a long time ago it's simply not necessary to keep the stone wet (with water or oil) while sharpening.  And I've adopted this principle.  However note, if you DO sharpen with a dry stone, you do need to keep the stone clean.  For me, I clean my stone every time, before I use it, under running water.  Sometimes I'll even use scouring powder (especially on my ceramic stone).  If the stone is really loaded with metal particles, then I use a stiff brush or scouring pad.  I then dry the stone off and put in the jig ready for use.  If my knife is really dull, then I might have to stop and clean the stone in the middle of sharpening.  But this is rare. 

It's funny the sayings you remember as an adult spoken from your parents!  Lately my kids who are all young have been saying, "That's not fair!" in response to whatever they don't agree with.  And I catch myself saying another favorite of my dad's, "Who said life had to be fair?!" 


plantprof gpierson10 months ago
Thanks! I had read, too, that it's not necessary to use oil or water during the sharpening process. In fact the article I read I think mentioned that, in the author's opinion, doing so was counterproductive from the sharpening aspect [although it does help keep the stone from getting clogged--but cleaning as you do takes care of that]. I think he mentioned all the metal debris ['swarf' I think it's called] suspended in the liquid damaged the newly forming edge as it was moved through it. I'm not sure that's totally true since I get equally good results either way [can shave my had or arm hairs equally well], but it's messier to be sure. Do you ever try "restoring" [burnishing] the edge with a steel so as to regain the sharp edge without removing metal just to touch up an otherwise sharp edge. After seeing one blade of mine get smaller, and a blade of dad's so worn that it was half the original size] I decided vigorous regular honing was bad until the edge had been damaged. The burnishing works nicely and spares excessive wear on the blade.
I've read something similar before as well. It depends on the stone and blade steel. Not all stones and steels need to be wet to sharpen. Just remember once you use water or oil on a stone that is a point of no return for that stone. Never go back and forth between oil and water on your stones. Pick one and stay with it. The stone its self will sharpen better and last longer that way.
kleinjahr9 months ago
Interesting idea. A question though, how does the oil stay on the stone?
jimmysymo10 months ago
Yes a very good job and your explanations are even good for a f00l. I will be making one soon
thanks..
Lt.Greg10 months ago
I see that no one's complimented you on having an EDC knife, so I shall. Bravo sir! The Griptillian and its little Brother are excellent knives! (And anyone who doesn't know what EDC means - SHOULD! LOL!)
Nice job,
Greg
gpierson (author)  Lt.Greg10 months ago
Thanks for noticing! Yes, this my Every Day Carry knife. I've had this one for over 8 years. Often I've misplaced it and can't find it...until ultimately I find it still attached to my pants pocket! If anyone is looking for a good pocket knife under $100, or a good gift for your dad (or whoever) the griptillian mini is a good choice.
cooldryplace10 months ago
Great instructible! I love keeping my knives in tip-top condition and I'll be making jigs for several angles with your approach. My dad always told me "The only thing a dull knife is good at cutting is you!"
fareed_tam10 months ago
Great Photos!
whitepaper_0110 months ago
Thanks
Now Im having one of those "now why didnt i think of that" moments
The KISS rule wins again.
nitesurfer10 months ago
Good idea... I have previously just held stone upwards at a slight angle but this is a whole lot easier...
Think i will make me one..
2 left thumbs10 months ago
Thanks! Very good project! I do have a question. After I sharpen the left side of the blade, how do I sharpen the right side? If I turn the jig 180 degrees, then I would have to hold the jig with my right hand and hold the knife with my left hand. I'm not very good at using my left hand.
gpierson (author)  2 left thumbs10 months ago
Sounds like your user name should be "2 right thumbs"! You must be right handed...I don't know what to say other than just give it some time and you'll pick it up with your left hand.
Looks nice, anything that increases the steadyness will help. I've tried clamping stones into place, sometimes in a vise or sometimes flat on a benchtop. But it's hard to see the edge with the stone flat like that. Tilting it up like you're doing yet still held solid is very nice. I like to use a reversed approach nowdays, I keep the blade still and move the stone across it and with the stone on top I can see the edge. A little black felt tip marker helps to show where the stone is hitting the edge too. Now I have a paper wheel sharpening rig, so at home I make shaving sharp edges in less time than it takes to use a stone.
ikarasu10 months ago
thanks
zappenfusen10 months ago
22 degrees good for a Pocket knife, durable, long lasting. 19 degrees and lower is for Kitchen and Filleting knives. I must build one of these as I wore out the commercial one I had and for some reason, with years of practice, I can ruin a blade in 6 strokes. I must have help from external appliances. Thanks, this will free up some funds for something I don't need.
MrBuildalong10 months ago
Very nice jig. I'm going to make one for me and my Dad!
Esque10 months ago
Nice and simple, I like it rather a lot. I use a Spyderco Sharpmaker a lot of the time which works in a very similar way to this and by simply holding the knife at 90* relative to the table you do get a surprisingly accurate bevel on the blade. I may well knock up one of these for when I need to do coarser work than I have sharpmaker stones for as this is a lot more sollid that the way I used to do it which was to wrap a piece of card round the sharpmaker stones and then tape that to the back of the coarse stone I wanted to use. Your little jig will be much more secure.
gpierson (author) 10 months ago
Thanks for the comments to everyone...
groucho91410 months ago
Neat idea
Definitely going to try this
Thanks!
SlavicFMJ10 months ago
Good project, I like to see useful stuff being done.
camping crazy10 months ago
Wow this is a really good simple design!!! I will make this tomorrow for sure I have the same chop saw so that might help!!