A couple of weeks ago, I was a pondering, as I'm often inclined to do these days, on the merits of another honing system, to be more precise the Kell series of guides. It irritated me intensely that as the DMT's are so small, only half the stone can be used with an Eclipse, so it transpired that a couple of days ago at Michael Huntley's BBQ I had a chance to have another go with a Kell, but this time it was the big boy, the No3. I'd previously had a quick play with a No1 and 2 before Christmas, but for some unaccountable reason, I couldn't get on with them...they just didn't seem to want to work very well and also the rollers were sometimes running on the stone and at other times not, depending on the width of the blade being honed. I wanted a guide that was completely clear of the honing medium so that all the surface could be used...after all, if I've paid for all those diamonds it seems a crying shame not to be able to use them!
After having used the Kell III though, it was suddenly like having a 'Eureka' moment...all the shades seemed to drop away to reveal sparkling sunlight and do you know the main reason why all was bright and shiny?
I'd been trying to push (as you would an Eclipse) the Kells rather than pull them! The small wheels means that it's almost impossible to push them as you would a conventional gauge, but the Kells are meant to be used on the pull stroke only (as you would on a strop)...complete muppet that I am, I didn't realize!
The Kell III uses a series of wedges that the user has to make (details supplied on the very comprehensive instruction sheet) so that once a few have been made, it's possible to hold any blade (bar possibly a big 'pig sticker' mortise chisel) between the brass bar and the beautifully engineered registration plate. Blades are held square against two pins in the correct manner ready for honing so that this means that regardless of blade thickness, a projection say, of 18mm from the front edge of the guide will automatically give a honed angle of 30deg. All that's required is to set the right honing distance, hold the blade against the pins to ensure it's square, firmly push in the appropriate wedge...and away you go.
These guides seem particularly suited for use on a 10mm plate glass substrate, with 3M Imperial Lapping film and this is what I was using at the weekend so I've decided to switch over to this sort of honing system. Matthew Platt, who supplied the Kell III very kindly let me have a large lump of glass complete with three assorted grades of abrasive paper, which is now installed in the 'shop under a cover.
The jury's back in...and the verdict is 'not guilty'