TESTED: 3D Print Honing Guide

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Words and photos: Robert Howard

It was only a matter of time before this happened: a 3D printed tool. Having never seen an object made this way,
it looked a bit rough and crude, with surfaces that looked unfinished. This is the effect of the way the object is built from multiple passes of the computer driven nozzle, with each pass leaving a small track on the surface. Moving past what is really only a cosmetic problem, to the guide itself, I was intrigued to find a cleverly designed tool with some unique features.

The idea of using a small tray to hold the guide and the moveable angle stop was new to me. It takes advantage of both the plastic and the adjustable accuracy of the 3D printing technology so that both the guide and the angle stop snap into place easily and are held firmly. However, it took me a while to learn how to use the included square to ensure the blades are held so the sharpened edges are square to their length. The instructions are not clear about this, and the most intuitive way to position the square is not the correct one.


The blade locks into position with one of two wide wedges, depending on how thick the blade is. This is easily and quickly done, thanks to the way the tray holds the guide in place. The wide roller is particularly helpful with preventing narrow blades from rocking sideways during the sharpening process.

My guess is that this guide has been produced with Japanese blades foremost in mind, but there is no reason why it would be limited to them. Unfortunately, some of my Japanese chisels, as well as the largest Lie- Nielsen chisel, were too thick for even the smaller wedge to be used to hold them. A different wedge combination, or an additional wedge, would fix this.

As expected it is not as rigid as the metal guides in use, but it did the job. How it stands up to prolonged use is one question in my mind, but for woodworkers at home I think it would be good for many years.

These are early days for this method of production, and both the technology and the results will continue to improve in the years to come. I hope enough woodworkers are supportive of this effort to allow it to continue to grow, and to improve on this impressive start.

Review tool supplied by Japanese Tools Australia, see www. japanesetools.com.au

Robert Howard is a woodworker and sculptor who lives in Brisbane. He teaches woodwork classes from his studio. See oberthoward.com.

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