Dec 192011
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I’m always on the lookout for the “perfect” surface to help hold my sharpening stones, so they don’t have a mind of their own and walk around on me. A couple of years ago I made the Lie-Nielsen sharpening guide, which you can see at any of our events, and whose plans are available online. I love how it encompasses both the holding of stones as well as the stops for four or five angles most used in our sharpening. Occasionally, I’m using a stone that’s too large to work with this guide, so that is when I usually start looking.

I was out doing a bit of shopping with the family this last weekend, and it just so happened I found something that looked to be the answer (and ultimately worked great, after giving it a try). It is a cooking mat made from silicone. I was picking up something else, when I accidentally touched the mat. My eyes opened wide and I immediately knew it was going to follow me home for some trials. This mat is 8 1/4” x 11 3/4”, which they call 1/4 sheet in the cooking world and if needed, they had another twice this size. This one felt as if nothing could possibly slip on it.

I don’t know yet how long the “tack” will stay, but the mat was reasonable at $12.99, and a 10% coupon made it even sweeter. I’m expecting this material to last at least a year or two, and if it does, I’ll be a happy sharpener. Cleans up extremely easy, no matter how much swarf and stone material has gotten onto it, with just a splash of water and a paper towel.

I hope to see some of you at our upcoming events, listed on the Lie-Nielsen website.

Feel free to contact me at if you have any questions, or if you have suggestions for future articles you would like to see.

Click to see Highland Woodworking’s entire selection of Lie-Nielsen hand tools.

Lee Laird has enjoyed woodworking for over 20 years. He is retired from the U.S.P.S. and works for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks as a show staff member, demonstrating tools and training customers.

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