Once you own a
Jointer and a Thicknesser, be it individual machines or a combo like yours
truly, a whole new world opens up. No longer do you have to hunt down
those elusive timber sizes that your latest plan demands. And, in
particular, old reclaimed timber gains a very special appeal. Not only due
to it usually being obtained at the right price (i.e. free), but also for
such as the width of the old boards, stability and aged look you
cannot get with new timber.
Now, owning these very nice machines presents one small
problem. At some stage, you will have needed to either buy a new set of
or have your blades professionally sharpened. Now this is fine and should
be expected as blades become dull,
especially when planing particularly hard or
woods. In addition, getting small nicks in the blades is, unfortunately,
very easy to do.
your nice new or re-sharpened set of blades and fitting them in your
machine, you proceed to plane down those nice pieces of reclaimed wood you
picked up. And, as has happened to me (and I’m sure I’m not alone in
this), the unthinkable happens and you find part of an old hidden
tack/nail/screw that puts a nice little nick in your blades! It is usually
then that you (well me) look at your
Little Wizard metal detector hanging
unused on the wall!
So, its Saturday and you
really wanted to start making your latest project but you only have half
the timber planed and you are not looking forward (or even going to
attempt) to hand-plane
the rest. What can you do?
them yourself of course! However,
sharpening blades and removing small nicks is not at all easy unless you
have an expensive motorised sharpening machine OR a nice little jig to
help you such as the one made by Veritas
- the subject of today's review.
What is it?
I think I’ll let Veritas explain their product to you:
A commercial sharpening service or a sophisticated home
grinder is necessary for badly nicked blades. The Veritas® Jointer Blade
Sharpener is designed to restore blades dulled from normal use, even if
they contain minor nicks. It clamps blades up to 8" wide (including
hand-plane blades) for sharpening on PSA-backed abrasives. Just stick the
abrasive to a flat surface (plate glass works well), adjust the elevating
screw until the bevel is flat on the abrasive, and use it as you would any
other honing guide. After basic sharpening, switch to a fine abrasive, and
hone a fine micro-bevel. Two position stops ensure successive blades are
honed identically. It is both easy and effective, letting you quickly
restore blades that you would probably let become far duller before
sending out for service.
Source – Lee
Valley/Veritas web site
see if it lives up to their marketing
The unit comes shrink wrapped on a
cardboard display board and contains the following
Fit and finish of
the Blade Sharpening jig
was very good and is up to the standard that I have come to expect from
all Veritas products. The Jig is made of cast aluminium, which has been
painted black, and has five slots in the front section and a threaded hole
in the rear arm. Three brass knurled knobs, holding down individual steel
‘U’ clamps, are fitted to three of the slots and are used to hold the
Jointer blade. Another two brass knurled knobs are fitted in the remaining
slots. These are used as the position stops so that subsequent blades can
be easily inserted
the same position as the first. A long brass bolt, including a stop nut,
is fitted in the rear arm and is used to set the angle of the jig. This
bolt has a plastic ‘button’ fitted in the end that is designed
so the jig slides easily
during use. The jig and its fittings all feel very solid and the knurled
knobs are fairly easy to adjust.
The pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) backed silicon
carbide sandpaper provided is top quality but I was a bit disappointed
that only a half sheet was supplied.
The instructions provided are in the form of a four-page
leaflet but they are quite comprehensive, well written and give the user a
guide to the use of
as well as a troubleshooting section
hints and tips along the way. After giving them a good read, I felt quite
confident to start using the jig.
There is only one required
item that is not supplied and that is a dead flat surface to place the PSA
abrasive on in preparation for sharpening. Veritas recommend using a ¼”
(or thicker) piece of plate glass as your lapping surface. They can also
supply these, if required, in tempered glass for safety. Another
alternative they suggest is to use the infeed or outfeed table of the
Jointer – I guess they assume you have one if you bought their Jig!
As I already use the Scary Sharp sandpaper method
for general sharpening, I had a nice thick piece of plate glass already
set-up (glued to a piece of chipboard so that the edges cannot be easily
it was a simply matter of
the small pieces of sandpaper and cleaning it up in preparation for
the large PSA abrasive. I also stuck down another coarser piece of 3M
abrasive next to the supplied one. I did this because I would need to
grind out some nicks from my blades before sharpening and honing them -
more on this later.
Ok, I had my lapping surface prepared, on to the
I chose a set of blades that
had a couple of small nicks in them.
The same blades were also
quite dull from extended use.
Following the instructions, the first job was to flatten the bottom (face)
of the blade. You need to do this because, quoting from the instructions,
“Most manufacturers ship blades with griding marks on the face or
bottom that, if not removed, would leave a series of fine saw teeth on the
This is done without using
the jig and is achieved by simply placing the face of the blade on the
sandpaper and sliding it around in a figure eight pattern. There is no
need to remove all the grinding marks, only at minimum, the ones on the
first 1/16” of the blade from the edge. You can tell you are done when it
is nice and shiny,
indicating all machining marks have been removed.
Next I fitted the blade into the Jig (finally) and
commenced setting it in position. Fitting the blade is done by loosening
the three ‘blade clamp’ thumbscrews and then inserting the blade under the
clamps (bevel facing down). Next, I lightly tighten the clamps and then
turned the jig over and adjusted the blade position in the jig. What you
need to achieve here is to have approximately 1/8” of the blade extended
out from the front of the jig and have it positioned as close to parallel
with the jig
as possible. Once I had it
right, I tightened up the clamps to lock it in. Lastly,
I loosened the two ‘position stop’ thumbscrews and slid them down to meet
the back of the blade and then re-tightened them. These two nuts will make
it much easier to set up the second blade in the set later on.
Ok, my blade was installed
but there was one last thing I needed to do and that was to set the angle
adjusting screw on the arm of the jig. The aim here is to get the blade
bevel in complete contact with the abrasive sheet by winding the adjusting
screw up or
down. To do this, you take a
couple of test stokes on the abrasive and then check were the material is
being removed from and adjust as appropriate. I found that taking a black
felt marker and painting the whole bevel made this setting easier to
achieve as it was simpler to see were the bevel was making contact. Once
I had it set up so that all the black ink was being removed, I locked the
adjusting screw by tightening its locking nut.
Now that the bevel angle was
set, I could finally proceed to sharpen the blade. As my blade had a few
small nicks, I started with my coarser 3M paper and
the jig back and forth. Veritas recommend that pressure be mainly applied
during the push stroke, as this will stop a wire edge from forming on the
top of the leading edge. They also suggest that you use both hands and
spread your fingers out, putting even pressure on the blade. Once I got
the hang of holding the jig, I managed to get a nice rhythm going but it
did take a little while to remove enough metal along the whole blade edge
so that the nicks were completely removed.
Now that my blade was nick free, I commenced the actual
sharpening on the supplied PSA paper using the same procedure. This did
not take long at all and I soon had a nice shiny bevel along the complete
Ok, my blade was sharp but not incredibly sharp so time to
create a micro-bevel. To do this, the rear adjusting screw is screwed
down about half a turn and then locked in place. This increases the angle
of the jig by about ½ a degree. I then placed the jig on the fine abrasive
again and moved it back and forth until I had a nice polished micro-bevel
along the blade. Now it was sharp!
All right, I had one nice sharp blade, on to the second one
in the set. I managed to set-up, grind and sharpen this blade much faster
due to now being quite familiar with the jig. Also, the ‘position stop’
thumbscrews saved a fair bit of set-up time. Now, as I had removed a fair
bit of metal from the first blade when grinding out the nicks, as
mentioned in the instructions, I had to ensure that I removed the same (or
close to) the same amount from the second blade. This is necessary to
ensure that the blades end up the same size/weight and will be balanced in
cutter block. So a little bit of checking was also required while I was
removing the nicks on
the second blade. However, it was not long before I had two nick free and
very sharp jointer blades.
As I had another ‘new’ set
of blades, I thought I would do a little ‘unscientific’ comparison
by using the old hair-shaving test. The result was that the Jig sharpened
blades gave me a nice bald patch on my arm and the “new” ones were flat
out removing one hair! So, I decided that the “new” set needed a quick
sharpen/hone on the jig - just so that I could have a matching bald patch
on the other arm!
I must say that installing
the blade was a bit fiddly the first time I tried it but the second blade
was much easier to fit particularly since the stops were now in the right
position. After that, the second “new” set of blades I honed were a piece
of cake to fit. As they always say - “Practice makes perfect”.
The actual sharpening of
blades is quite easy but removing nicks from them does take a bit of elbow
grease. In fairness, Veritas do say that to remove nicks and chips from
blades, it is best done on a machine first (grinder or belt sander) before
using the jig but they do say that you can use the jig to do it as well.
The reason I decided to use the Jig to remove the nicks was so that I
would have a perfectly flat/straight blade edge which is hard to achieve
using a grinder unless you have a
sophisticated set-up (which I don’t). I also wanted to test the Jig in its
‘extreme’ usage and I must say I was very happy with the results.
jig is not just limited to Jointer blades. As pointed out in the
instructions, it is quite capable of sharpening Hand Plane blades as well
by simply changing the clamp positions. One
I think that the thumbscrew knobs could be a bit larger to make them a bit
easier to tighten/loosen.
All in all though, the
Veritas Jointer Blade Sharpener is a winner in my book and I know it will
save me time, money and not to mention the hassle of sending blades out to
be sharpened. Now, were did I put that nice old Cedar and my
Little Wizard metal detector??
You can order this item online at
In Australia, order from
Veritas Jointer Blade Sharpener
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior
written permission prohibited
The Veritas Jointer Blade Sharpener as found on the shelves of woodworking
Setting up for some sharpening action. Instructions are easy to read and
follow. Here we have some plate glass and various grits of sandpaper
ready to go.
Setting the blade into the
U-clamps on the jig.
Here we have blackened the bevel with ink to ensure correct, and most even setting of
the blade in the sharpening jig
After several passes over the abrasive, our ink has been removed quite
verifying the correct placement and angle of the blade in the jig.
It is a little tough to see in this picture, but this blade has a couple
of nicks in it that need attention!
Running the blade over the PSA abrasive to sharpen our blade.
Compare this shot (after we have used the Veritas Jointer Blade
Sharpener to remove the nicks and sharpen the blade) to the picture
above. You can certainly see the difference!