View Full Version : expectations of sharpening for others

NO ChoP!
12-06-2012, 12:38 PM
As the resident knut at my new gig, I'm in the predicament of many turning to me for help. I have been asked to " sharpen" knives several times now, and oblige out of kindness....

Problem is, many of these knives need work; tip/ chip repair, bevel setting, scratch smoothing/ polishing, thinning, etc....

At what point is it too much?

I've found myself putting in 45 minutes on a single knife. I don't even take that time on my own kit (but I take better care to start).

Should I just give them a new edge, and return it in the same beat up condition, just sharp??

12-06-2012, 12:44 PM
Show them how to sharpen.

Cutty Sharp
12-06-2012, 01:03 PM
If it takes so long, I hope they're buying you a drink or something. Either that or you'll have to set up a little business. Is it possible? Why not. I'm a teacher and I constantly get students trying to get me to do extra stuff for free - sometimes it's just nice to help, but other times you draw the line.

NO ChoP!
12-06-2012, 03:08 PM
I'm not really interested in profiting from anyone. I like to do things for others. The thing is, most of them don't realize how far gone their knives are. It's hard for me to not have something so beat up, and not try to rehab it. Most are usually appreciative, and surprised. But now that I've done it for several, I feel obligated to continue...

There are a lot of abused knives out there...

12-06-2012, 03:41 PM
Two questions, if you don't mind. What knives are involved? Could you develop an "express mode", involving just P320 sandpaper, and J800 and 3k stones, the last for stropping only?

12-06-2012, 03:47 PM
I've been doing a lot of this lately, mostly because I'm trying to get more experience sharpening/repairing...so I don't mind. However, IME just putting a fresh edge on it will amaze a lot of people.

12-06-2012, 04:03 PM
I almost never do this for someone who wants to hand over their knife and have it fixed. Even if they stand there and watch the whole process, that would be better than nothing. If someone really wants to learn I set up two stones side by side and we work together until they learn what they're doing. If you do it that way you would be surprised how quickly the people you teach will take control of their own stuff and even start teaching the other people in the restaurant when you're not available. Either way, if someone isn't willing to try and learn I don't think you should feel obligated to provide them a sharpening service for free.

Cutty Sharp
12-06-2012, 04:11 PM
There are a lot of abused knives out there...

What's the world coming to!

12-06-2012, 06:22 PM
When they give you the knife tell them you'll sharpen it and point out the problems that go beyond that. People usually respond well to explanations.

It's up to you how to handle the extra work.

NO ChoP!
12-06-2012, 06:51 PM
Perfect example. Guy has a Global yanagi that has been sharpened only by the sharpening guy who comes every few weeks in a van. Well, needless to say its screwed up; double beveled. Asks me tonight if I could get it "sharper" because the edge doesn't hold up... No $h!t....

I actually turned him away, explaining why. He asks if I could just sharpen it with a double bevel.....

Dave Martell
12-06-2012, 07:42 PM
People will never understand how much work it is to repair old edges until they do it themselves and since most people will never do this work themselves you're left with these choices when summoned to help...

1. Refuse

2. Charge $$$

3. Buy a belt grinder

I suggest using all 3 choices as applicable. :D

12-06-2012, 07:50 PM
I did a bunch of knives in the work stable, as well as for co-workers, when I was first learning to sharpen. Showed a couple guys how to do it, nobody seems to give much of a crap. Nowadays, I sharpen for my mom and my (ex) girlfriend, but everyone else can GTFO and buy a pull-through.

12-06-2012, 07:51 PM
Nobody ever asks me but I'd do it maybe once or twice and that's it, I'd either tell them to go somewhere else or I'd charge them a hefty fee. My free time is very very valuable

12-06-2012, 10:06 PM
One thing I like about working here is that everybody has a stone & sharpens their own knives.
I've seen some pretty unorthodox methods, but it works for them.

12-06-2012, 11:01 PM
there are soo many abused knives...
my only rule is dont sharpen when I'm tired. I in turn usually sharpen til I get tired. sometimes I give the knife a few sessions if the owner doesnt mind missing the knife for a few days other times I barely get an edge on it. also I have passed on a few knives similar to the global you describe explaining that it is really barely worth the work im putting into it. I assume this is the same reason dave doesn't fix moritaka knives with overgrind issues.
I think the only thing you need to do is what makes ya happy. If you enjoy saving knives keep on keeping on lord knows there are more knives to fix in this business then you have time to fix.

12-06-2012, 11:59 PM
I'll take on project knives with an understanding that I'll do it when I have time. If the dude is in a hurry, I tell him he'd be better off doing the right thing and paying someone for it. I don't like to have more than a couple of knives laying around the house that aren't mine. So, if I have a few already, I will give some advice and then tell them to ask again later.

12-07-2012, 02:18 AM
Yeah, I've done way too much of this too. It really pisses you off when you see them abusing or not taking care of the knife afterwards.
Nowadays, (in the co-worker scenario) I'd offer to teach them, but once I start to explain the process they usually lose interest.
It sucks when you care more about someone's knife than they do.

12-07-2012, 03:10 AM
I always explain what I will or won't do, what needs to be done and what I'm going to do. When they get the knife back i show them the difference and then they obviously notice how much sharper it is. The first one is always free, after that I have to charge for my time. And yes I have refused quite a few jobs. I won't do a $20 sharpening job on a $10 knife.

12-07-2012, 03:21 AM
Metallurgy is hard... geometry is easier... if a cook isn't interested in the geometry than sharpen while he gets out the oven cleaner... if he's not interested in anything ... move on.???

12-07-2012, 04:12 AM
I have been offering to sharpen the knives of our youngest staff (not that I'm all that old), in exchange for them doing things I don't want to. ie. cleaning. I get practice and don't have to clean, and in return they can cut things again. fair trade in my mind.

Keith Sinclair
12-07-2012, 05:28 AM
When I used to sharpen at the end of my shift,knives would pile up next to me.That's when I started teaching.It seems to me that most just want you to sharpen their knives.It got to the point I would sharpen my work knives at home.

Now I show them how fast I can take a totally dull blade & make it very sharp,to show that the tech. really works.Then I tell them all it takes is a little practice,some hand eye coordination,motor skills.Then they will never have to use dull knives or be at the mercy of someone else ruining your knife,like putting a :(double bevel on a Yanagi.

When I fix damaged knives I return them sharper than new & give advice on knife care.Bottom line NO EXCUSE FOR KNIFE ABUSE!

If someone is not willing to buy at least one stone I will not waste my time going one on one.When they get stones I watch carefully their tech.I notice common mistakes for beginners which enables me to teach better by pointing out what matters & why.

12-07-2012, 09:44 AM
I once offered to sharpen some knives for a chef who I supervised. I told her I would take them on my day off and do them.Later on during my day off my Exec Chef rang me as the co worker had complained to the HR department that I took her knives.I still sharpened them and did not get so much as a thank you.Fortunately as I was her Sous chef she found she had many cleaning tasks and issues with her Mise/storage/labelling that she was previously unaware of.Have only sharpened one other persons knife since.

12-12-2012, 04:30 AM
I have a couple of co workers that want me to teach them how to use stones. One guy keeps telling me he wants to get a good tri. stone. I keep telling him that he wont like it with Japanese Knives. One co worker loves to just sit and run the blades on a steel while not busy. He gets them sharp with a very thin wire edge. I try to explain why he shouldn't do that, but its not his knife so who cares.

As for op I would just get it sharp and explain why you aren't fixing any issues the knife has. If they would like to learn how not to continue to ruin the knife, and how to fix the stuff you would be more than happy to teach. After the second time of sharpening I would make them learn, or have dull knives.

12-12-2012, 04:51 AM
Dang, you guys have some freakish stories going around here :)

12-14-2012, 09:56 PM
I remember that Jon had to learn how to sharpen for others/clients in Japan. His teachers were saying that it can't be too extreme of the edges when sharpening for others (especially if you haven't seen how this person uses and cares for knives). The key was really to find a happy medium of sharpness and durability. Once you know the how the person is with the knives, you can of course adjust sharpening to better suit that person.

12-15-2012, 01:23 AM
5 years ago I would sharpen every knife. Just for the fun of it.

I once refurbed MAC [spent like 12 hours] just to find it broken ofter first few days laying in the sink. After that my enthusiasm dropped a little.
Still would do funny projects for free, like polishing tuna sword up.

No wiktorinox though