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




About: -----------------------------------------------------------------17 year old, sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!-----------------------------------------------------------------Hi FTC! My I'bles con...

"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!

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Step 1: What You'll Need:

Hardware & Materials:

8 PCS of 10X1.5mm Neodymium Magnets

A Small Plastic Wheel w/ a Metal Base Plate

Chemicals & Adhesives:

CA Glue (Super Glue)

Alcohol Swab/Pad

Some Water

Tools (+Attachments):

Hand-Plane or Chisel that needs to be sharpened

Sharpening Stone: Water-Stone , Diamond Stone, Sandpaper, etc.

Bench Vise

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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)

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)

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?

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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61 Discussions


1 year ago

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.

2 replies

Reply 1 year ago

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


Reply 1 year ago

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?


3 years ago

Don't work for me.

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

5 replies

Reply 3 years ago

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


Reply 3 years ago

I use neodyn magnets .5mmx12mm

4 or 6 pieces.

Dui ni shuo de duiYonatan24

Reply 2 years ago

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.

Yonatan24Dui ni shuo de dui

Reply 2 years ago

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


3 years ago

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.

1 reply

3 years ago

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.