Richard Kell Sundials and Handtools

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Woodsmith Special Investigation into Sharpening

Richard Kell Conventional & Skew Honing Guide £42.50

Sharp Dresser: The Kell really is a thing of beaty, it works well too

This is a really beautiful tool, hand made by Richard in his Northumberland workshop from brass and stainless steel with Ertalyte TX self-lubricating low friction rollers. It costs £42.50 and is probably worth buying just to put it on a shelf and look at it. This guide is different in that the two small Ertalyte rollers are set some 96mm apart so run either side of the stone rather than on it. This keeps the guide extremely stable in use, has the great advantage that the rollers don't end up grinding the swarf produced by sharpening into the surface of the stone and allows the full length of stone to be used. This makes the guide ideal for the scary sharpeners' amongst us, when wet and dry paper is used as the abrasive medium. This is because I find abrasive paper to be particularly affected by having the wheel of a more Kell Uses Self Lubricating low friction rollersconventional guide constantly rolled over it. For other types of sharpening stones a simple frame would be needed to bring the rollers level with the top surface of the stone; this could simply be a piece of MDF with a rectangular hole cut in it. Although not having the rollers ride on the stone has advantages it has one disadvantage in that in my opinion it makes the guide unsuitable for use with water stones, they wear so quickly and unevenly that any guide used with them needs to ride along the surface of the stone in order to compensate for the wear in the stone.

A further difference with this guide is that the blade is mounted under the plate rather than on top, this has the advantage thatKell's smaller honing guide with some of his other products the back of the blade forms the datum for grinding; compensating if the blade is at all 'out of square' in its thickness. There are two fixed steel pins to align the blade square with the body; these are set 55mm apart so allow very accurate setting of the blade. This guide will also accommodate the sharpening of skew blades, it has a sprung pin which is set for the Lie- Nielsen skew blade, but other blades could be aligned with an appropriate wedge. In use this is different again, rather than the usual thumbscrew, the blade is clamped in position by a wooden wedge (you have to make your own); in much the same way that plane irons are held in wooden jack planes. This works well, although I found I needed a few different sizes of wedge to compensate for different blade widths.

As you can probably tell I liked this guide it is so easy to use and accurate, apart from the proviso about water stones it is pretty much perfect.

Kell Guide is intended to carry the blade slung under the steel datum barsRichard Kell 0- 1 inch Honing Guide £26.50

This is a specialist guide designed to cope with narrow, short blade or Japanese chisels with a capacity from 0 to 1 inch. Despite its small size the blade is held firmly and squarely in position. Easy to use the blade is held against the two location rods while the thumbwheel is tightened. Richard recommends the blade is held under the location rods to make the back of the blade the datum, but in use I found it easier to hold with the blade mounted above; this was especially so with some very fine short blades. It seemed to me to work equally well this way.

I have never been able to produce such a square and even finish on very small blades with any other guide.

Kell's longer jig is slightly more expensive but the extra capacity makes it the best buy Richard Kell  0 - 2 5/8 inch Honing Guide £30.80

This guide is almost identical to its smaller sibling but the extra width gives the guide greater flexibility; enabling it to be used for spokeshave blades for instance. It still takes the very fine blades so, although it is slightly more expensive at £30.80, it is probably a better buy than the smaller version.

Versatile alternative to the other Kell jigs

Reproduced courtesy of The Woodworker Magazine Highbury Leisure Publishing Ltd ©2005.

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