Apr 13 2008

Improve your Sharpening with a Portable Sharpening Station

Published by at 2:53 am under Projects,Sharpening,Shop Organization

Lets face it, sharpening can be a big undertaking. Many edge tools we bring in our shops will benefit from having a flattened back and the optimum bevel angle for the task it is meant to do. Streamlining the process is possible, and most of that comes from organizing the honing gear so it can work the best with your applications.

Sure, That is a very large amount of application options. There are variables such as steel types. Cast steel, hand forged, high carbon, O1, A2, and D2. There are sharpening options. You have scary sharp, water stones, oilstones, and diamond stones amongst your choices for abrasives. There are a number of different sharpening methodologies, various jigs, freehand, even machines.


I use a portable sharpening station designed for use with stones, with both jigs and freehand manner. This helps facilitate the process, contain the mess, protect other shop furniture from damage and helps keep the honing tools organized. It can be used in a couple configurations, and can be moved out of the way when necessary. It is simply stored when not in use.

The base is made from 1/4 inch MDF, cut 19 inches deep by 16 inches wide. It is bordered with 1×2 poplar, mitered in the corners, glued and screwed to the base. It has a poplar 1×2 running along the front beneath the base. It is designed to be a bench hook. The hook registers against the edge of whatever you place it on. You may see in the photos, where I placed a small F clamp on the left front corner to keep the station in place while in use. You could use a holdfast, the bench vise; squeeze it between bench dogs, your option. It is designed to work however, wherever.

On the left side of the base, a riser made from 3/4 MDF, cut 11-3/4 x 4-1/2, is meant to be a stone base, and is glued along the edge rail on the main base. It has a poplar backstop for helping hold stones in place, added to it. The 3/4-inch riser is what is needed to allow clearance for your fingers when holding tools in various positions, especially during the back flattening process.

There is room inside the station for your spray bottle of water, can of honing oil, or the stone lubricant you prefer, various stones, jigs, edge tools, and what have you. If it is dirty from sharpening swarf, this is the best place for it.


For a resilient finish, this assembly was treated with 3 coats of Teak Oil, applied as directed, allowed to soak the MDF, wipe off the residue and allowed to fully dry. It was then wiped with mineral spirits to clean up any residual oils from the oil finish, and coated with 2 rubbed on coats of Poly.

In the front area on the main base, there is also a removable 3/4-inch MDF base, designed as a bench hook, which is cut 10 x 4 inches. This size is the exact size of the DMT brand, Non Skid Mats, and will accommodate most common stone sizes. It also has a poplar 1×2 backstop along the back, mounted to the edge of the base, and a 1×2 hook on the front mounted from the underside. It is finished the same manner the large base is.

The complete ensemble is very water resistant, very easy to clean.

When in use as a 2 piece station, a non skid mat is placed under the portable base in front so it wont skid, and a non skid mat is then placed on top of each sharpening station to help keep the stones in place, a job these mats do very well. You can flatten a wide chisel or plane iron with a stone like the DMT XX coarse 120 grit diamond stone, and the stone does not move. It is very effective.

When used for shaping bevels, or doing major flattening on edge tools, I use both stations in ensemble. The long station on the main base is great for use when using jigs for bevel reshaping. The portable auxiliary station is placed in the front of the main base, and is used for general maintenance honing, and for flattening and honing the wire off while major bevel work is being done. Both stations offer all the finger clearance needed for holding most any tool in the needed orientation for the sharpening.

The auxiliary station is a little more versatile when it comes to various tasks. It is handy for odd shapes like router blades. It will allow the stone to be placed near the front edge in a stable manner. It is also handy for honing off the wire without having to remove the tool from the jig. The sideways orientation is also very useful when honing cutlery and other knives.


For general woodworking, the small station can be used by itself. Just place a Non Skid Mat, or any non-skid material available on the bench, and place the little station on that. Another non-skid mat is then placed under the stone. Simple maintenance honing is possible, freehand using push pull or side sharpening methods, or with simple edge holding or side sharpening jigs. Touch ups only take a couple swipes on the finest stone, and depending on the wood you are working, you can choose to strop or not.

If needed, the little station gets out of the way, simply pick it up. Gravity and the non-skid mat are all that is needed to hold it still. Since it is a small bench hook, it can be used any place on the bench edge that is convenient. The hook can even be held in the vise. It only needs positioned on the edge during the honing process.

Feel free to design a station to meet your sharpening needs. Sharpening is a workflow, and is best made to suit the way you work. If you are still developing your workflow, this may help. You may have just been wondering if there is a better way to organize the process or help contain the mess. Maybe you have a space limitation, and need to move the station in and out of the work area as you go. This is just a concept. If it seems like it could help you, then use it. If you are a southpaw, simply reverse the layout.

For those who would like more views of the station, which can be expanded to much larger, more easily viewed images, please follow this link to the Sharpening Station in the woodworking gallery.

Were you aware we make woodworking tools? We have a full product line of tools and jigs for use in both hand and power tool woodworking, that help improve your skills and workflow, while improving your speed, accuracy and in many cases, help keep you safe.

We offer a full line of shooting boards and accessories for tackling the most challenging projects, as well as sharpening stations, drilling jigs and benchwork accessories that help keep you sharp and accurate on many tasks!

The list of tools we make is too long to list here! Come to the Evenfall Studios Woodworks Store to see our latest New Tools, or have a look at our entire woodworking tool line!

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© Copyright 2008 by Rob Hanson for evenfallstudios.com All Rights Reserved.

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