Introduction: 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.

Step 1: Supplies and Tools

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)

Step 2: Cut the Base and Main Support

Simply cut a base for your jig.  Length doesn't matter here, but width is important.  You want it the same size as your main support (what I'll refer to as the "stone support").

To cut the stone support, here's where you need a chop saw.  I suppose you could cut this with a miter box or even handheld "freehand" but do yourself a favor and ask a friend to cut this for you if you don't own a chop saw. 

Now a side bar on the "correct" angle for sharpening a knife.  There is quite a debate on what angle you should use to sharpen your knife.  I don't pretend to know the best angle for any given knife.  What I do know is what works for me and my particular knife.  I picked 22 degrees and went with it. 

Why?  Because I didn't know what angle to go with!  And I simply tried to estimate the angle that's worked for me when I've sharpened my knives by hand. 

Here's what I can tell you...I think the whole debate is overblown.  I think you should just try and figure out what angle works best for your knife and your use of the knife, and stick with it.  If you find out later that it's too great or too little of an angle, then make another jig.

Back to the cutting of the wood.  Whatever you decide to be the angle for which you want to sharpen your blades, that's what you should dial in on your chopsaw.  Again, I went with 22 degrees. 

Step 3: Attach the Stone Support to the Base

I used dry wall screws to attach the support to the base.  You could also use epoxy and a clamp, but I didn't want to wait. 

Look at the pic and you'll see where I had to grind down the screws after I attached the support to the base.  If you don't countersink these better than I did, you may have to do the same if your screws protrude above the surface of the wood.  The point is you want the stone to sit flush on the wood surface of the stone support.

Notice also how the support is set back about 3/8 to 1/2 of an inch from the edge of the base.  You want to do this in order to have the base support your stone.  Also be sure to check each of your stones on this before you screw these down completely.  You want to make sure your THINNEST stone sits on here completely without having any of the wood from the base exposed.  More on this later...

Step 4: Cut and Attach the Side Supports

You need to make 2 side supports from 1/4 inch scrap plywood or similar.

These are used for the purpose of holding the stone securely to your jig.

I used a 3 inch bolt and wing nut to securely (and easily by using the wing nut) tighten down the stone on the jig.

I also drilled the holes of the side supports larger than the bolts that I used.  You don't want a tight fit on want a little play so you can position the side supports so they don't protrude above the stone.  (You don't want your knife to be hitting the side supports when you're sharpening.  See pic.

Step 5: Sharpen Knife

To sharpen your knife, make sure you work on the edge of a table.  Take it from me, you don't want to hit your knife on your kitchen table to piss off your wife, but more importantly, you don't want the table to dull your knife as you're sharpening it!

Also a note on safety:  Be careful.  Before you use this jig, please get some instructions on how to actually sharpen a knife blade.  Don't do this barefoot.  Also make sure you have no kids or pets running around while you sharpen your knife.  You can find a LOT of instruction on how to safely sharpen a blade elsewhere.  I'm not giving that here.  The only thing I'll share is this:  What works for ME is the following.  I hold the knife at a 90 degree angle and push downward (I don't pull upward or "backwards"). 

I sharpen my knife about once every 2 weeks.  And in a matter of less than 5 minutes, I have a blade sharp enough to shave hair off my arm.  My dad always taught me, "A sharp knife is a safe knife."  It's counter intuitive but it's true.  If you have a dull knife, odds are, you're going to use it incorrectly or inefficiently and you therefore greatly increase the likelihood you'll injure yourself or someone.