I recently had the opportunity to try out the soon to be patented sharpening Jig made by Jim Ritter of Ancora Yacht Service. You may know Jim from his chain vise he sells.
I don’t typically use a jig for sharpening, but for those who do, this is well worth checking out. Jim sent me instructions with the jig, but I intentional didn’t follow them to see if I could just figure it out. It’s pretty intuitive and convenient and I was sharpening both plane blades and chisel without any assistance. (probably not the recommended approach unless your writing a review. I missed a few cool features Jim has incorporated before following the instructions, but basic sharpening was a breeze) I will admit however, I did watch Jim use it a bit at the NWA show in Saratoga NY, so I did have some inkling of what it could do.
I took a blade off a Sargent jack plane I was restoring that needed a significant amount of work. I would have typically used a grinder on it. I started with some 120 grit paper on my table saw top. The jig did very well and made made quick work of the blade. The nice thing about this approach is the extended reach you gain over stones or plates.
I then went to the DMT’s. My plates are not set up to use a jig, so my only complaint was the length of working surface, which is a problem that comes with any jig. If I was going to use this (or any jig), I’d build a holder so the plates sits level to expand that surface.
I did have a minor annoyance with the Allen wrench falling out, but Jim assured me it seems to be with this particular jig alone. Its held in place with a magnet and it’s a problem with that particular jig. The other jigs out for review do not seem to have a similar issue. The Allen wrench is used to change the configuration of the runners to allow for cambers blades.
To further test, I intentionally chose a chisel that was to short and well worn. I actually use it for scraping japanning off planes. It did quick work of the chisel and held it in place firmly, even though you’d think the handle would have been in the way. There is plenty of clearance. It’s also one of the narrowest chisels you’d be sharpening, which can be an issue holding.
There will be two sizes of the jig, but what I liked about this one was the size (it’s the larger one). It’s big enough to get a good grip when sharpening. I suppose it wouldn’t be perfect for trying to keep to a limited size in a traveling tool box (get the smaller one for that) but for shop use, having something to hang onto that wasn’t constantly scraping my fingers across the stones was a bit of a pleasure.
Jim’s help video is not quit prime time yet, so I’ll post an update when he releases it, but the jig has many cool features I didn’t try. For instance the reconfiguration of the wheels for cambering. For the light cambering I just tilted the jig and it seemed to work very well.
As of this first writing Jim’s first production run is almost ready, so shot him an email with any questions or to get information on ordering. I will also post an update once pricing information is available.
According to Jim, The jig can hold a blade as wide as 2 3/4″ so basically a #8 plane blade down to the smallest thumb plane blade, skew blades, fishtail chisels, mortise chisels. The movable wheel carriage with the actual honing angle engraved is one of the best features. The wheels that can be set wide for stability or brought together for cambered blades.
I don’t have the following equipment, so these are images from Jim and other testers.