Sharpening Woodworking Tools: Why Jigs Are a Bad Idea — 7 Comments

  1. I think its great advice. My first experience with woodworking and sharpening was with a graduate of the College of the Redwoods. I was letting “perfect” get in the way of “plenty good enough”. He pushed me forward. That early experience has indeed kept me moving forward. Keep preaching it Brother Bob!

  2. Very useful advice. When you are a novice it is too easy to be seduced by short cuts, I.e. Jigs, and never learn the quite difficult process of feeling an edge become truly flat and sharp.

    • Thanks, there are a lot of “experts” out there that promise to teach you how to ride a bike, if you’re willing to keep the training wheels on.

  3. Well said Bob. You have impeccable timing as I just published a video past week on this very topic and you just inadvertently backed me up on this point. Though I hadn’t thought about what it teaches you about using the tool. Very astute!

  4. This is one part of woodworking that got me just like you described. I bought good quality tools but being new to it, I learned quick that a $500 plane needs to have the iron honed before the first use for best results. I bought jigs and sharpening was something I would put off as long as I could because of the time it took to set up. Now that I’m confident sharpening my tools by hand only I enjoy putting that fine edge on my tools and keeping them that way. Great article Bob.

  5. I think the article’s title is a little misleading. It makes a good case for why hand sharpening is an important skill and how to perfect that skill but just saying “using a jig doesn’t allow you to perfect this skill” isn’t much of a con. People drive cars and use computers every day but they don’t know jack about how they actually work. It’s like saying if you really want to be a good computer user you need to build it piece by piece on your own.

    So what I’m getting from this article is that using jigs isn’t going to ruin your tools. With a jig you can get them just as sharp as doing it freehand, and you don’t need to spend days getting it down right like I did this past weekend (and still ended up with dull tools). That’s a pretty big pro.