Building a Protrusion Jig for the Veritas Side-Clamping Honing Guide
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A side-clamping honing guide’s strength is in its simplicity. Adjustable jaws hold the blade perpendicular to the stone and allow a quick and easy set-up for sharpening. A side-clamping guide is both tried and true and easy to use for any woodworker looking for sharp edges. It also provides an efficient and repeatable set-up for any sharpening workflow.
Many options for protrusion jigs exist to meet almost any type of shop situation or style of woodworking.
The Veritas side-clamping guide takes a mid-20th-century design and updates it with modern machining and manufacturing tolerances. As with all Veritas products, it should provide many years of reliable service in any shop. When using any guide, it is important to accurately determine the protrusion of the blade from the guide to define the sharpening angle. Accurate measurement every time ensures the blade is at the right angle and, more important, at exactly the same angle as the last time it was sharpened. This is best accomplished by the construction of a protrusion jig, which will make it easy to set the proper protrusion necessary for the blade being sharpened. Protrusion jigs come in many forms and every woodworker will adapt a design that best suits his or her situation; indeed, many will benefit from building different types of jigs for different situations, such as in the shop and in the field.
With a proper protrusion jig, setting the angle for bevel or micro-bevels becomes a quick and repeatable part of your sharpening workflow.
The Veritas side-clamping honing guide has two blade positions, allowing for a variety of protrusions to be set in the guide. You will want to experiment to see which position best works for your situation.
Alternatively, simply go with the upper position, which will meet most needs and allow the easiest blade alignment in the guide using the upper jaws and gravity to hold it in place while setting the protrusion.
This handy angle guide from the instruction sheet shows the protrusions for most angles needed.
This article focusses on three types of protrusion jigs. One type is a small hand-held unit that can be as small as a smartphone. The jig has one or two protrusion stops for the most common angles used. The other end of this type of jig can have more angles or protrusions for the micro-bevel settings. The instruction sheet that comes with the guide has all the measurements for the most-used angles on one sheet.
A couple of pieces of scrap wood make a portable jig to measure an angle in the shop or in the field.
Another type of protrusion jig uses the template from the instruction sheet to define the protrusions, while a movable fence provides the stop for the blade. Attach the printed jig template to the jig material (Baltic birch plywood works well) with some spray adhesive, ensuring the baseline of the template is accurately positioned before the glue sets up. I found it helpful to extend the lines for each setting across the entire width to make it easier to align my fence parallel with the edge of the jig. The adjustable fence is made using 1/4”-20 jig hardware. The screws slide in relief grooves on the back of the board and are tightened in place with knobs. You may also want to give the paper a quick spray with a clear finish to keep water from soiling it over time.
Using standard 1/4”-20 jig hardware, a handy all-in-one guide with a movable fence and shims will adjust for every angle the guide will accommodate.
The bottom of the fence-style jig.
The third type of protrusion jig – and perhaps the most popular – is made by adding stops to a board for the angles used most frequently. Many set-ups use a board with a stop to hold the stones in place, along with protrusion stops on the edge closest to the user. Using the template page from the instructions and keeping the baseline aligned, use a knife cut to transfer the measurement to the board below. Many woodworkers will set stops for only the angles they use, while others will set up all the angles the guide can handle. This is a personal preference.
A stop-style jig with all angles for both upper and lower locations on the guide will cover almost every situation that may develop in the shop.
Regardless of the type of protrusion jigs you build, they will improve the usability of the Veritas side-clamping honing guide and provide the efficiency and repeatability in your workflow to help you to achieve the perfect edge.
Setting the micro-bevel is an important step in the honing/polishing process for many, and the protrusion jig needs to make a provision for this. Woodworkers often add a micro-bevel of 2° – 5°, which is based on personal preference. Because of the geometry, the protrusion for each blade angle to set a specific micro-bevel is different. The chart below shows all the offsets to achieve a 2° micro-bevel. A simple shim of the required thickness provides the offset to set the correct protrusion for the micro-bevel. It is not necessary to create a specific shim for every angle, as the actual angle can vary, as stated earlier. A simplified approach is to create one shim for the stops for each blade location on the guide. Picking a thickness between the two most common angles of 25° and 30° is a good compromise. As a suggestion, the lower blade position’s shim thickness would be 0.155” or about 5/32” thick and 0.183” or 3/16” thick for the upper position’s shim. With the key issue being repeatability and not the actual specific angle for the micro-bevel, this approach works fine.
One way to accurately set the protrusion on your jig is to print out the page at full size and use it as a reference. Be sure to put a ruler on a couple of the printed measurements to ensure your print-out is in fact full-sized (1:1) to avoid any issues later. Fold the sheet at the baseline so it can be easily aligned with the jig material. A helpful tip is to place some painter’s tape on the jig material and cut through the template with a knife and straightedge into the tape below. Removing the tape now provides a reference edge for the stop, and the thickness of the tape makes a handy way to align the stop piece. A couple of drops of medium CA glue on the bottom will hold the piece in place while you drill and screw it. Once the stop is permanently attached, the tape can be removed. Be sure to label the specific angles you have built into your jig with a permanent marker or label maker.
Image left: Marking the stop block locations.
Image right: Stop-style jig with glued blocks.