The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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A new use for an old jig.


Tool sharpening is always a ridiculously debated hot topic among woodworkers. Should you do it freehand? Should you use a jig? Machine grinding or stone grinding? Who cares? I’ve discussed my sharpening methods before on this blog: diasharp, water stones, leather strop. I don’t like machine grinding and I generally don’t use a guide or jig. I prefer to hone free hand because I’ve become one of Paul Sellers minions and I blindly follow any and all of his advice. Actually that isn’t true. I still do use a guide for grinding, but I prefer to hone free hand because I just don’t feel like going through the trouble of setting up each individual tool on the guide. It’s faster and easier to just do it without the crutch (did I say ‘crutch’? That really isn’t what I meant) So if any of y’all want to use training wheels that’s completely up to you.

Like most woodworkers I started out using sharpening guides. I have two, a Veritas which I purchased, and a side-clamp “eclipse” style which was given to me. The question is: What do I do with two sharpening guides when I barely have use for one? Well I think I finally came up with an answer: Shaving!

I’ve been shaving for 25 years. I’ve become quite good at it. Still, I understand there may be some people out there who have trouble shaving, and that is where the side-clamp sharpening guide comes in. I’ve done some experimenting and I’ve found that most razors on the market fit in the side clamp guide, and with a little trial and error you can find the perfect angle to set your razor which will provide a perfect shave every time. And ladies, don’t feel left out, it works just as well on legs as it does on faces.

It was a sharpening guide, now it's a shaving guide.

It was a sharpening guide, now it’s a shaving guide.

So for everybody out there with an unused sharpening guide I just helped you find a new use for it. You’re welcome! On a side note, during my experiments it dawned on me that my razors all work on the pull stroke, which instantly classified them as Japanese style razors. Unfortunately I contacted most of the major razor manufacturers and gave them this information which they promptly used to triple their prices. Sorry about that.



  1. I want to see a video of you shaving with your “Japanese style razor” in that contraption without cutting yourself. I used a guide a couple of time until I learned what I was looking for. I haven’t bothered since.

    • billlattpa says:

      Well, because I am already an expert shaver I don’t need the training wheels. But anybody who reads this is more than welcome to give it a shot. I make no guarantees. You may get some tear out and for that I recommend a high angle razor.

  2. Sean says:

    Someone send this to Chris Schwartz as an example of what actual satire looks like!

  3. dzj9 says:

    Real men sharpen their razors freehand. 🙂

  4. ctregan says:

    Any special jigs to set the correct angle of the razor?

  5. nvmepeter says:

    From a hair dresser type spesialist shop. You can buy razor blades that are made in japan. they are not expensive, and are miles ahead of common razor blades.

  6. ausworkshop says:

    Awesome post. It’s cheered up my otherwise dreadful day, thanks.
    Makes me wish I had a long square jaw bone to try it out. Only after spraying some window cleaner all over my face first. My eyes are squinting thinking about it.

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August 2015
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