This past Christmas my kids gave me the Veritas MK II Honing Jig. My first reaction to this is, it rocks!
Years ago I bought an inexpensive honing jig and I never had much luck with it. I decided to forgo using it as I figured out that I was able to do a better job with free hand sharpening my chisels and plane blades. The results were okay, but often I felt that the edges were not as sharp as they could be. I had also noticed that a couple of the bigger chisels had a very slight skew that most likely was introduced by me not holding them down with equal pressure. I also really had no control over the bevel. While I worked to maintain the same bevel that was already established. I like having a micro-bevel on my blades and while it is possible to do this freehand, but it would always be at an inconsistent angle. Finally, I almost always walked away with my finger tips with very thin cuts, similar to paper cuts.
The honing jig from Veritas solves all the above frustrations I had with sharpening free hand. The jig includes a gauge that sets the distance the blade is exposed so that bevel angle is the same for every blade. The gauge is adjustable to a variety of angles that are commonly used. There are two thumb screws that once the blade is lined up are used to tighten the clamp that holds the blade in place. One thing that needs to be taken care of is that these thumb screws are providing equal pressure so as to not inadvertently introduce skew. Thank you to Roger T who pointed this out to me before I learned this the hard way! The jig also provides a switch on it that allows a quick and easy way to put a consistent micro-bevel on every blade. The wheel on the jig allows for very smooth operation allowing for a very consistent motion for sharpening. At first glance the jig looks complicated because of all the various adjustments it allows, but once everything is set, it is actually very quick and easy to use.
As a first go around with this jig, I sharpened my entire chisel set, 11 in all, ranging from an 1/8″ up to 1 1/2″ wide chisels. Each one got sharpened at a 1000 grit, 4000 grit, and finally an 8000 grit wet stone. I got through all 11 chisels fairly quickly. The edge that was produced is definitely superior to the edge I was creating going freehand. I will definitely be using this jig for sharpening all my hand tools from here on out!
It seems like this time of year my postings tend to drop off, though it is always for a good reason. Rather than spending time typing a post, I am out in the woodshop working!! The last couple weekends, as I have got time, I have worked on the drawer boxes for the new router table. While the boxes are all done and in place, I still have some work to do on them, mainly making the fronts for them. Once those are done, I will do a follow-up post of what went into making the drawers. The good news is the router table is useable, and it really is a joy to use. It is hard to believe that the same router is in this one that was in the old one. The bigger work area is definitely a bonus. Also, because of the increased overall weight, there is virtually no vibration. I am really looking forward to getting the drawers done so I can start to really utilize the storage features of the cabinet.
Two quick tool gloats. Back in April, I went to the Lie-Nielsen tool event host at the Popular Woodworking Magazine headquarters near Cincinnati Ohio. I had a great time there, but also picked up their new tapered cross-cut saw. I have used it a couple of times to help lay out some short dados, and it is a great saw. While I was at the tool event I tried out their new tapered dovetail saw. I did not buy it yet as I have the Veritas saw, but I can tell you , Lie-Nielsen has a winner there! This may be a future purchase for me. I have also been wanting to update my jack plane, as the one I have is not well made Stanley Handyman. I tried out the #62 while I was there, and I am seriously considering that as the replacement for the jack plane.
Last weekend I also swung by Gerstner’s yearly warehouse sale. While they had a real nice discount on most of the stuff there, one of their tool chests is unfortunately outside my budget. I will say this though, they are beautifully made chests. Maybe some day! 🙂 I didn’t leave empty-handed though. They at want time sold rebranded PEC squares and they were closing them out for a very low-cost. So I picked up a nice, and much-needed, 12″ combination square.
Finally, I did some shop maintenance as well. First I rearranged a few things in the hand tool cabinet so it can better accommodate my now growing collection of hand saws. I actually started using the second door, and moved my hand saws over to it. I still need to make the drawers for cabinet though. One of these days!
Recently I attended Woodworking in America, spending some money at its market place. Then the following weekend my local Woodcraft had its annual Extravaganza, where they have their paper bag sale as well a few vendors providing demonstrations. In fact I saw the same guy both weekends from MicroJig as a result of these events! When it comes to affordable machine safety, these guys know what is going on! I have had their splitter on my table saw for awhile now. However, I hadn’t yet bought their very popular Grr-ripper. While at WIA, they were demoing their newest product the Grr-rip Block. What really sold me on it is the smart hooks that are their when you need them, but are out of the way when you don’t, which is awesome when pushing a piece through the jointer. In fact they work the same way on edge when resawing on the band saw! So while at WIA, I bought one! I get it home, and the grips are amazing. I was so impressed with it that next weekend, I bought the Grr-ripper at Woodcrafts event!
Another WIA purchase was a Gramercy rasp. I got their smaller 5″ 25TPI rasp. While I haven’t used it on a project yet, I have played around with it, and it is an awesome tool! It is hand stitched, and made from stainless steel so it won’t rust. As much as I reach for a rasp or file, I have a feeling this one will get a lot use!
I also picked up a digital caliper. I actually bought one last year, but met an unfortunate demise when the chuck key for my lathe chuck landed right on the display. It never worked right since.
Last but not least, while at the Woodcraft extravaganza, I entered my clock on their gallery, and took third place in the small projects division. The prizes for that was a Fein ball cap and safety glasses, as well as Flex Tools beginners carving set. That is an area of woodworking I have yet to explore, so who know perhaps you will see me posting a project with a carving in it sometime in the future!
Original Posted on November 3rd, 2010
After a couple months of usage, the new fence is worked out great! One issue I noticed immediately was that the old stamped steel wings were no longer stable after removing some of the bolts to make the new fence fit. Plus with the longer rails, I felt like I was missing out on additional work area. So to the solve that problem I made two new wings. The left wing is roughly the same size as the old wing, while the right wing takes full advantage of the new rails.
Construction was very straight forward. Looking at the bottom, while fuzzy, should give an idea of how it is constructed. The bulk of each wing is two pieces of 3/4″ mdf laminated together to make a surface that was 1 1/2″ thick. Notice all the screws on the bottom. Before any glue touched the MDF, I predrilled and prescrewed each screw to make the pieces lined up properly, and to make sure that the top piece didn’t lift away from the bottom during glue-up. After glue-up came the edge banding. The edge banding serves two purposes here. First it makes a clean looking edge. Second, and much more importantly, it provides the structure to bolt the wings to the saw and rails. I intentionally made the edge banding wider than 1.5″ and initially attached them proud of the top surface. I only attached two bands at a time using glue and nails. Once each of the bands were attached and the glue was dry, I flushed them up with the router using a flush trim bit. After completing the edge banding, I covered the top of each wing with a sheet of Formica, using contact glue and a j-roller.
Finally came time for installation, and this was actually the most time consuming part of the project. After getting a wing lined up as close as possible, I would mark the two outer bolt holes. I then drilled the through hole. If you look in the picture around the edge you will see large holes in the bottom. These were drilled using a forstner bit, and then using a chisel and hammer, made a flat surface for the nut & washer to bite into. After cutting each of these (8 in all) a lot of time was spent with lining up with wings. This included widening the through holes with a rasp, tightening and loosening bolts, and finally some brute force with the rubber mallet. After finally getting everything even, I did a final check to make sure all the bolts were good and tight.
Update 3/6/2013 – I have been using the setup for not quite 2.5 years now. The wings have worked out fairly well, and do occasionally need readjustment. The fence has been great! I do try to keep the guides as clean as possible and well waxed. The fence still glides as smooth as the day I installed it. There was a point about a year ago that I thought I was going to have to replace the saw. Luckily the issue was repairable, and the saw is still useable. However, if I had to replace the saw, most likely that fence would have been put on the replacement saw.
I didn’t take any further pictures during the install process, except for the final product (as shown) as from this point the installation was exactly as described in the manual and it went in fairly quickly. Much of the time spent was with tuning the fence. Which I did even further the next morning as well, until I was happy with the setup.
One unexpected benefit was the power switch placement. It no longer faces down, but instead faces up. I did move it out a little bit further I was fearful I would accidentally turn the saw off mid cut by leaning into it. However the bracket mounted right onto the angle iron by using one of the bolts that hold the tube rail to the saw.
For the cost of this fence (being less than half of many of the popular high-end fences) I was really impressed with the feel of it. It glides over the rails with very little force, despite it being fairly heavy. The measurement guide is very easy to line up, and leaves very little doubt to the accuracy of the cut. Finally, since it use a similar clamping mechanism to the Biesemeyer, it ALWAYS locks down square. Even though the saw itself is 25+ years old, this upgrade has made the saw feel like it is new.