Sunday, 10 January 2016

Veritas MKII Narrow Blade Honing Guide review

Having been an owner and user of the standard Veritas MKII (Mark 2) honing guide for a number of years I was aware of a few of its shortcomings.

  • Not being able to hold any of my mortise chisels
  • Poor holding of narrow blade chisels.

With the addition of the Narrow Blade attachment these limitations are no longer an issue.
I decided to buy a complete 3 piece assembly rather than the head only as I often hone wide plane blades and wanted to dedicate my original MKII to the task.

I ordered my new honing guide from Axminster in the UK and a day later received the original guide. This is not what I ordered and a quick phone call to the good people at Axminster brought the narrow blade guide in the next days post. The barcode number at the end is -10 for the narrow blade and -01 for the regular guide. An easy mistake for a supplier to make.


Out of the box there are quite a few differences between the original guide and the narrow guide.

The clamping has changed to a similar mechanism to an Eclipse guide or the latest Lie Nielsen guide. There is a common threaded rod that carries one clamp on a right hand thread and the other clamp on a left hand thread. Turning the brass knurled knob either tightens or slackens the clamp moving the clamps simultaneously. This action self centres whatever you are sharpening over the top of the brass roller.

The clamping mechanism is on a detachable head that screws onto the roller assembly just like the standard blade clamp head. However the narrow guide only now has two possible positions

  • regular angle (2 - yellow)
  • back bevel angle (3 - green). 
  • The low angle (1 - red) of the original guide is not present on the narrow blade guide.

As is usual from Lee Valley the standard of manufacture is top quality with parts being made from cast aluminium alloy, stainless steel and brass. The bearing on the roller, as ever, needs a little oil from time to time. The maintenance instructions tell the user what to do and you just need to rinse the guide under some clean water when you have finished using it.
The manual that comes with the narrow head is different from the standard head. You can see if you only have the older manual by looking at the cover page.

New manual

Original manual
As ever Veritas have all their manuals downloadable from their website.


I tested a couple of mortise chisels and tried them for fit.

  • The Narex 8mm (5/16") mortise chisel fitted great in the clamps and its angle of 25 degrees was catered for. 
  • The other mortise chisel I have, a Crown 1/4" chisel also fitted fine. Its bevel angle of 40 degrees was also catered for.
  • I tried holding a Lie Nielsen 1/4" chisel in the guide and this too was securely held. Its bevel angle of 30 degrees was also in range.

Micro Bevel

The guide also has a 3 position detented micro bevel knob, as does the standard guide, that alters the included angle slightly (about 1/2 a degree to 2 degrees dependant upon what projection you have on the chisel).

This gives you the facility to hone a micro bevel on your chisel and works really well.
On the original guide I found that the micro bevel produced would sometimes not appear to be parallel to the primary bevel face. The new manual included with the narrow guide has a mention about this saying the geometry changes slightly when changing the angle and can give this effect but the tip is still square and don't worry about it.
In practice the new guide hasn't produced any apparent non squareness yet.
Micro-bevel on the Lie Nielsen 1/4" chisel.
Parallel to the main bevel
I normally hone a micro bevel on a chisel or plane iron by hand but that has taken a few years to develop muscle memory to enable me to do that. I will try the narrow head to hone micro bevels in the future as it takes no time to fit a blade to the guide.


It is interchangeable with the standard head in seconds. It securely clamps blades as narrow as 3mm(1/8") and up to 38mm(1.1/2") square to the jig. This head further extends the scope of your standard Mk.II jig.
I was able to fit in a Lie Nielsen 103 block plane iron into the guide but anything wider would not fit. Not a problem if, like me, you have the standard MKII guide too.

Skew Registration Jig

You are not able to hone any skew chisels as the clamp only holds chisels square to the axis of the roller. You need the standard MKII for skews.

Camber Roller Assembly

Since narrow blades do not require a camber, the camber roller assembly is not used with the narrow blade carrier. Although you can actually fit the carrier to the camber roller assembly.


Axminster are one of many companies selling the guide and at the time of writing January 2016 the price in GB Pounds (shipping extra) is
Guide complete with roller assembly and setting gauge - £56.78
Clamp head only - £32.11
Veritas Deluxe Mk.II Honing Guide Set (narrow guide, standard guide, roller assembly and setting gauge) - £84.66

Check out the prices at your favourite store in your country for local prices.

If you want to include in your arsenal an accurate guide that holds narrow chisels well then you will love this new guide from Lee Valley. The knobs are big enough to not require pliers (to ruin them) to screw them down. If you already own the original Mark 2 guide then you can buy the narrow head as an add on.
Personally I wanted to not mess around with two heads and one roller so bought a narrow head assembly complete with roller. As ever the decision is up to you.

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