Making the Paul Sellers’ Sharpening Plate Holder

 Many of you ask about the sharpening plate holder I use for housing and securing my three EZE-Lap diamond sharpening plates so here are the details.  Making one is simple and you have the choice of using the tablesaw, chisel and hand router or using knife walls, chisel and the hand router. Sizing is basically the same. One method looks utilitarian, the other neater and more carefully made. Both function identically, so the choice of construction is yours. I had several to make for use at the New Legacy New York School and so I used the tablesaw for the initial cuts and then removed the recess with a 1” chisel and the hand router.

Regardless of the method of construction you choose, start with a board about 3/4” thick measuring 9 1/2” x 11 1/2”. The board can be solid wood or plywood. I used plywood because I wanted the board flat and wanted it to stay flat. Some solid boards will and some will cup because water comes into contact with the wood every time you sharpen. Most plywoods are quite water resistant, so just about any 3/4” plywood will work.

The recess in the board will be 1/8” deep. That’s half the thickness of the steel sharpening plate. I like the plates 1/8” above the board when done.

The outside sizing is pretty much exact if you want to follow the instructions that follow. If you change the sizing, you must adjust to suit your changes. It’s also important to have the board square and parallel as you will be using the fence of the table saw to establish the walls of the recess parallel to the four edges of the board.

DSC_0095 With the board cut and squared to size, set the fence of the saw to 3/4” from the usual side of the saw blade and drop the saw to protrude at 1/8” above the table. Using normal safety procedures, run the board through the saw along each edge of the board.

DSC_0101 Reset the saw to 3 3/4” but this time to the opposite side of the blade. Run the two short edges only of the board through the saw blade at the same depth setting of 1/8”. This will create two parallel walls to each end, 3” apart.

Reset the fence 4 1/4” to the usual side of the saw blade and rune the board through the saw blade along both short edges again. This will create the walls of the mid recess, leaving 1/2” border between the tow outer recesses.

Here are the stages of forming the recesses.

DSC_0097 With the walls cut, use a chisel to chop into the sublayers as you would any recessed housing. Work along the grain if you are using solid wood. If using plywood, the task is easier because each layer of plywood will follow the grain in the crossgrain layers.

As you get near to the depth, change to the router plane or use the poor man’s router if you don’t have one. You can find a video here if you need to make one from a 1/2” chisel.

Using hand tools only

Making this by hand is generally tidier, but the functionality is identical.

Start with each recess independently, but lay out the recesses in pencil to get you started.

Use the square and pencil to lay out the outer perimeter lines at 3/4”. Lay out the inner lines for the two outside recesses by placing the plates on the lines directly. You can actually use the plate itself to guide the knife and delineate the full perimeter with the knife. This establishes the knife wall to guide subsequent cuts as you deepen the recesses.

Do the same to the inner recess and remove the first layer with the 1” chisel, bevel down, followed by a shallow setting on the hand router. 1/16” should work fine.

Use the 1” inch chisel or the knife to deepen the walls of the recesses and remove the next layer – rout out the bottom and repeat as necessary until you reach the required 1/8” depth.

Make certain the recesses are clean with no high spots that might leave one plate marginally higher then the other.

I use clear silicone sealant to bed the plates into the recesses. Not to much. Just a zigzag in each recess will spread excesses and bed the plate as close as possible to the wood. That way, I can always remove the plate without damaging the board if I ever need to. It is best to bed the plate as even minute slippage can be annoying and it also prevents the pates from dropping out and getting damaged during handling.

On the underside I inset a strip of 1/2” by 1/2” wood along the the long edge. Insetting means I need no screws or hardware. I glue this into the groove. To form the groove by tablesaw is quick and simple. Set the fence 1/2” from one of the long edge and pass is over the tablesaw. Reset the blade 1/8” and pass it again. Do this two or times and you have your 1/8” wide recess, but take care on the last pass to make sure that the insert fits fairly tightly.

Glue the piece in place and clamp in the vise until dry.


  1. Hi Paul, thanks for that! I would like to ask you since months for this, now we have it. One Question, which grit do you use on your board again?
    Thanks in advance

    1. 250, 600 and 1200, but this need not be hard and fast. Some makers make 300 as their coarse and that works well too. 1000 is fine enough for prestropping stage too.

  2. Paul,
    What’s the purpose/benefit of the wood strip you inset on the bottom?

    1. It’s just to clamp the plate holder during use – saves slipping around. Also, I often put the silicone shelf liner between the benchtop and the underside of the holder during classes. the stop and the shelf liner really work well to eliminate slippage too.

  3. Once a flat face is initialised and polished out to around 10,000 it usually never needs doing again so it’s only the bevel of the chisel or iron that needs to be sharpened and polished out.

  4. I’ve had an idea about these plates, but i’m not sure if it’s a good one. I use them with a gig that holds the tool at the right corner, the gig has a brass cylinder that rolls on the surface of the stone while sharpening. I know diamonds are hard, but they’re also brittle. Isn’t there any risk that the stone can be damaged? Anyway, the feeling of the brass rolling on the stone is unpleasant. Why not to build a longer holder allowing the roller to run on it, perfectly flat with the surface of the stone?


  5. Just curious, why not make the stone flush with the surface of the holder, and increase the size of the holder such that you can have longer strokes with a honing guide? I’m new to sharpening so I might be missing something obvious.

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