As mentioned briefly in my previous post, I recently purchased Veritas’ Small Blade Holder from Rutlands, which is designed to solve the common problem applying the right amount of pressure to a small blade or iron when sharpening or honing. I don’t know about you but, I’ve always struggled to get a good edge on spokeshave blades unless they’re crudely fitted in to a slot cut in to the end of a length of 2x2in, for example. So, I was waiting eagerly for this product to arrive; to see if it would solve all those other issues. Veritas are renown for producing top-quality goods with a hint of innovation and it’s claimed that these holders will fit in to a honing guide for repeat angles and accuracy…
Well, my head had already dropped from the minute I opened the plastic bag with all the bits sealed inside:
While both magnets are incredibly strong and more than capable of holding a small iron in place, to my dismay, I found that one of the magnets was ‘free’. I did contemplate gluing it back in with epoxy but, I’m still concerned that the extra thickness of such an adhesive would cause the magnet to be left sitting proud of the surrounding surface. Instead, I may be looking to get a refund from Rutlands on this product – not that this is their fault, of course… They even exceeded themselves by dispatching this out of stock item two-weeks in advance of the date they had previously given me (great service – thank you!).
Having such a generous allowance for overhang though does at least allow you to polish the back of a blade with ease (or, you could just fit the blade with the bevel facing the magnets):
There’s an adjustable, sliding stop block that snugs up against the ‘top‘ edge of a blade with a bevelled edge to help lock the iron against the twin magnets. While this is a nice idea in principle, it still leaves a good half (1in~25mm) of the blade protruding out past the front of the jig – meaning that, with a little too much pressure, you can break the magnetic attraction between the steel. Veritas recommend that any blade should project no more than 1/8in (3mm) past the front edge which, as far as I can tell, would only be possible with very short blades (and I’m struggling to come up with any examples, here!). Conversely, Veritas also claim that this jig is suitable for holding blades up to 2in (50mm) in length, which is what most spokeshave blades are…
With the stop block removed, you do get that specified measure of projection although, without the bevelled-edge of the stop, a spokeshave blade is somewhat less secure than what it could be. If I was to make something similar for myself, exclusively for use with spokeshave blades then, I’d radius this rear edge so that it matched the convex profile of the top edge of a blade.
At this stage, I was trying to remain optimistic and I was fairly confident that the jig would still be able to fit in to one of my honing guides and that I’d still be able to get repeat bevel angles on my small blades…
As it’s one of their own products, it’s surely going to fit the Mk.II honing guide, isn’t it…???
Incompatible Honing Guides
It’s too big for their own Mk.II model and also, the guide that came with my Work Sharp 3000 wide blade kit. The jig itself is too thick basically. On the rear of the packaging, however, it does show that this would fit the Mk.I honing guide… I’m not certain whether this model is still available in the UK but, there’s no mention of compatibility with other models. If you are considering the purchase of this jig for use with very small blades then, you’ll need to know that the holder measures 3/8in thick or, 9.5mm in metric. 🙂
In conclusion, I’m not convinced that this purchase would be necessary for anyone in need of a little assistance when sharpening spokeshave blades. By all means; cut a slot in the end of a scrap of pine, maybe even tart it up a bit… Alternatively, one of David Charlesworth’s books [off the top of my head, I think it’s Volume 3…?] features a design for a comfortable, effective and easy-to-use guide that you can make yourself from any scrap of timber. In fact, last year I made one for myself:
Again, it’s too thick to fit in either of my honing guides. So, even with the Work Sharp 3000 in my workshop, those consistent, repeatable bevel angles are left to be desired. Does it really matter, though? Certainly a grind that’ s off-square doesn’t cause much harm since you can laterally compensate for this using the adjustment screws on most metal-bodied spokeshaves, anyway. I’m not one to get hung up on fractions of a degree or anything; I just like that symmetry across all my tools and don’t want to start delving in to the world of “rounded bevels“, or anything like that… 😕
Perhaps I’ve been a bit harsh in this review, seeing as how I don’t actually have any shorter blades with which I could fully test the application of this holding device… It’s a nice idea in principle and it’s certainly the kind of idea that many time-conscious woodworkers could benefit from… I just do not see why they couldn’t have made this compatible with the Mk.II honing guide?! That’s my biggest gripe.
Thanks for reading.