Sharpening your Blades « Clarinet Reed Making

Sharpening your Blades

Basic sharpening skills and knowledge are essential. Successful planing is not possible without a properly sharpened and honed blade, even when the blade is new. Dull blades require more pressure to cut and will actually begin tearing the cane rather than cutting, making smooth cuts impossible.

A tutorial on sharpening is beyond the scope of this guide and a lot of good information can be easily found on the internet, but it’s important to note a few things. The two blades you will be sharpening often during the reed making process are the block plane blade and the chisel. Because both of these tools are single bevel blades you will need a honing guide to aid in the process.

The first step is to grind the flat side to a mirror finish on your sharpening stone.  After this you will have built up a tiny burr on the upper side of the blade.  Now set your blade at the correct angle in your honing guide and grind the beveled edge until you have a burr on the flat side of the blade.  Finally repeat step one just long enough to remove the burr.

I use a double sided coarse/fine diamond stone(shown below) to sharpen all of my blades. I also recommend the Veritas honing guide, it is much easier to set the angle precisely.

Here’s a good online primer for more information on sharpening a single bevel blade.


Sharpening a single bevel blade is a simple two step process. First you grind the flat side to a mirror smooth finish.

Second you grind the bevel side with the aid of a honing guide to hold the exact angle(most block plane and chisel blades are at a 25 degree angle):

Second you grind the beveled side with the aid of a honing guide. this guide holds the blade at the correct angle(most block plane and chisel blades have a 25 degree angle).