Have you ever thought of sharpening your knives, scissors, chisels, or woodworking planes at home? Well, I have… I must say, I am no sharpening master but having a sharpening jig at home is definitely handy. So I decided to build a simple DIY sharpening system for knives.
The 3 main components of this DIY knife sharpening jig are a larger plastic box, a smaller plastic box, and spruce wood slats. You can easily get below 20 dollars for the material (not taking into account the price for the whetstone).
The sharpening station is portable and you can easily use it on a benchtop. The station contains a sharpening table and another smaller box for water and whetstones. Also, the sharpening table is removable from the box and can be used separately.
If not used you can slide the whetstones under the sharpening table (or in the smaller box) and close the station with a lid. The station is equipped with an adjustable slider that will let you fix whetstones of different sizes up to 20 cm in length.
This is a beginner-friendly project requiring very basic tools. Check out the jigs I used to build it (see the end of this post).
With the instructions in this blog post, you will learn step-by-step how to make a DIY knife-sharpening jig. I hope you enjoy it!
Table of Contents
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool.
What you'll need to build the Knife Sharpening System
2x Spruce wood (planed, preferably square) – (230 x 39 x 29 mm)
2x Spruce wood (planed, square) (160 x 9 x 12 mm)
Wood Slats Table:
2x Spruce wood (planed, preferably square) – (160 x 39 x 29 mm)
6x Spruce wood (planed, preferably rounded) – (240 x 29 x 19 mm)
1x Spruce wood (planed, preferably square) – (160 x 9 x 19 mm)
2x Spruce wood (planed, preferably square) – (140 x 9 x 19 mm)
Birch Plywood (12mm) for DIY Wood Knobs
4x Wood Screws – 3 x 20 mm
12x Wood Screws (Countersunk) – 3 x 40 mm
2x M6 Bolts
2x M6 T-Nut
Larger plastic box (390 x 280 x 135 mm), Smaller plastic box (240 x 170 x 105 mm)
Both of the boxes are available in Ikea, though I am sure you will be able to find some in your local home improvement store
How hard is it to build a DIY knife sharpening jig?
This woodworking project is beginner-friendly, using basic tools and simple techniques. You’ll find the steps straightforward, and the cuts are easy to manage.
You can complete the entire sharpening station within a single day, making it an ideal weekend project that offers both convenience and satisfaction.
Do you need a lot of tools to build a DIY knife sharpening jig?
Nope! Just a few basic tools you can find in the shop. Except for a power drill you can use hand tools only. See the list below:
- Power drill
- Hand saw (jigsaw optional)
- Drill Press (optional)
What angle to sharpen knives?
The angle you choose depends on the type of knife and its intended use.
Most kitchen knives have a bevel angle, which is the angle at which one side of the blade is ground down to form the cutting edge. For beginners, a common recommendation is to start with a 20-degree angle. This angle is versatile and works well for a variety of tasks. It provides a good balance between sharpness and durability.
Keep in mind that not all knives are the same. Thinner blades, like those on utility or fillet knives, may benefit from a slightly steeper angle, around 15 to 18 degrees, for finer and more delicate cuts. On the other hand, heavier blades, such as those on cleavers, can handle a slightly larger angle, around 25 degrees, to withstand tougher tasks.
The knife sharpener consists of 3 main components:
- Larger box – contains a smaller box, a wooden slats table used for knife sharpening, and a sharpening station (base) on which stands the table
- Smaller box – used for water and soaking whetstones
- Wooden slats table – made out of spruce wood. Includes a ‘pocket’ for storing whetstones
I got the boxes from IKEA but I am sure you will be able to find some in your local hardware.
Just make sure that the total height of the sharpening system with the set grinding stone is higher than the top edge of the box. Thus when sharpening, you will have enough space around the whetstone and you will not hit the box with a knife. And when finished you can store the stone under the sharpening table and close the entire sharpening system with a lid.
How To Make a DIY Knife Sharpening Jig
Step 1: Build the Base for the Sharpening Station
NOTE: The main purpose of the base is to lift the sharpening table and at the same time to serve as a stand that fixes the table in position.
To build the base start by measuring and cutting all the wood pieces (see all dimensions above – Sharpening station). You can make the cuts using a hand saw or a jigsaw crosscut jig.
Place the wooden stands in the box and adjust as necessary. Take into account the width of the second smaller box so that both fit nicely.
Fix the guide rails with smaller wooden slats using wood glue. Additionally, you can run several screws in.
Temporarily fix the base in the box with double-sided tape. Run several screws from the outside of the box to make a permanent fix.
Step 2: Make a Wood Slats Table
Place in the second box and cut the length of the table legs accordingly so that the table fits in nicely.
Place the legs on the station right next to the base stoppers and start gluing wood slats on the top.
NOTE: Use wooden dowels as separators – 10mm and 6mm.
Additionally, fix the table slats with screws. Make sure the screws are flush with the surface.
Glue a wooden bar at the top of the table. The bar serves as a stopper for the whetstone.
Step 3: Make an Adjustable Tightening Bar
NOTE: To fix the whetstone to the table I made an adjustable bar that runs between the wooden slats.
Measure the distance between the holes so they match the slots on the sharpening table. Insert temporary bolts in and place the bar on the table.
NOTE: The bolts will be replaced with wooden star knobs later on.
The second bar fixes the first one from the bottom of the table. Drill a shallow hole on each side of the bar using a 15mm Forstner bit (to sink the T-nuts), drill 2 (7,5mm) holes in, and insert the T-nuts.
Make sure they are flush with the surface.
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Step 4: Make Wooden Knobs
To make the star knobs I used a DIY Star Knob Jig I built some time ago. Check out the post here for more information on how to build one – How to make Star Knobs with a Kob Jig
To make a knob cut out a circle with a saw hole. Place it on the knob jig and drill out a star knob.
To sand the edges, mount the knobs on a drill press and smooth them using a sanding wheel. Drill a 10mm hole in the knob using a Forstner bit and carve a hexagon around the hole to sink the bolt’s head.
You could add epoxy/glue to fix them permanently but there is no need for that – they hold up very well on their own.
Finally, assemble all parts together. Now the sharpening box is ready for use.
How To Use The Sharpening System for Knives
One of the biggest advantages of this knife sharpening jig is that you can use it as a complete sharpening system having all the components stored in one box – sharpening table, box for water, whetstones. Or you can use it separately by taking out the knife sharpening table and use it on its own.
To use the knife sharpening system first mount the whetstone right up to the stopper and secure it with the adjustable bar. Whetstones of different sizes can be used. If built correctly the height of the whetstone should be higher than the upper edge of the box.
The smaller box can be used for water, soaking whetstones, or as additional storage. You can also store more whetstones under the table slats.
Once done with sharpening you can simply put everything back in the box and close it with a lid. A very handy and useful small workshop organization idea.
This was a fairly easy project. It was really fun to build and the wooden slats table looks just great.
Having a sharpening system in the workshop is a huge benefit. I can use the station any time I need to without making a lot of mess around. Also, I can use it not only to sharpen knives but chisels as well. This is a project any woodworking beginner can make.
Now, I just need to improve my sharpening skills. 😉 HAPPY BUILDING!
DIY Knife Sharpening Jig Video
If you want to see how it is done, check out the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to make a DIY knife-sharpening jig.
The main focus of this article is on how to build a knife/chisel sharpening jig and does not go into detail on how to sharpen them. I would like to write an article in the future dedicated only to that.
I hope the information shared in this blog post inspired you and now you are ready to make your own home knife sharpener. Or at least thinking about it! 😉