Elements of Sharpening
So i have been thinking quite a bit about sharpening and what most people/chef don't realize is that one properly sharpened knife is a very useful tool and a poorly sharpened knife is utterly useless even if it costs an absurd amount.
For instance, i have started a local sharpening business around here nothing major but for some chefs and a couple restaurants locally. Anyways i was mentioning it to my co-workes and telling them what i charge etc and asking if anyone was interested. My chef started to ask questions and was completely dumfounded that i said id want $5 per knife(240mm+). I said well u know its done all by hand on stones no grinders or anything, and he says id rather use my pull through sharpener. He has a knife that is worth $200 and has never properly sharpened it. The geometry is ruined do to using these pull through sharpeners its rather frustrating.
Anyways i told him id take it and do it for free just to get his opinion. Took me a while to get the profile back to good condition and some thinning behind the edge before i could even start sharpening it. i went from 400-2k synthetic and then finished it on jnats. Next day i gave it back to him and later admitted he was quite surprised by how well it cut and how even the bevel was along the edge.
I also had another guy i work with start giving me a hard time about that it isn't hard to sharpen knives and that he'd never pay for it as well. Which he actually does a decent job of sharpening his own. But we got to discussing the methods and techniques. He is they type who is always going to disagree with you.
I said well if you sharpen the knife and don't fully remove the burr, then you can have a sharp edge to start but it'll quickly degrade as if a wire edge. He disagreed saying that it'll wear off by normal use and that it wouldn't affect the edge retention.
We also discussed sharpness from angles vs grit. I told him i believe that both are equally important due to the type of steel involved and of course he disagreed saying that not matter what knife you use if you use a constant angle and grit medium it should provide the same edge.
Basically whether I'm right or wrong isn't what I'm getting at but i started thinking about how much goes into sharpening a single knife...most people say its just removing metal with a stone. which I'm sure anyone can get decent results but i know that i have come an extremely long way with my sharpening since i started and since i learned and experimented. On my personal work knives i can easily go a full month without feeling like needing to resharpen my knives, last year i was doing it every three days or so. I can also get the edge much sharper as well as toothier so that it holds up better.
Yep. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "No, we sharpen our own knives. They're pretty sharp." And I glance over at the prep station and it takes everything in me to not say "Um, no they aren't."
I always tell people that yeah you can use a rod or a pull through, but eventually you need a new edge put on it. Also, I fix them when they are broken. That's usually reasonable enough to satisfy the chef's/husband's testicular flexing and get me some knives to sharpen.
It's best to just cast a wide net, cut your losses on people who are like that guy, and do what it takes to be likable and get a sharpened knife in someone's hand.
As far as people scoffing at the price, those people only want handouts. I mean, seriously, $5 a knife?? How much LESS do they want to pay? There are not a lot of numbers under 5.
I'm at a $1/ edge inch and all are happy with the results and plenty of repeats. The line I always hear is "most people don't know sharp, let me show you".....ok.....then I have to politely ask to "see if I can improve on that edge" and hand it back praying they don't "cut their hand off"...(Julia)...It really scares me to watch someone use a really sharp knife when all they have ever known is their "sharp."
Senior Member/ Internet Hooligan
Rofl. Serious. It's tough competing with the guy who rolls in with his Chef's Choice and offers to do the whole inventory for a biscuit and a song, though.
Originally Posted by BurkeCutlery
When I went restaurant to restaurant in my sharpening van I just about grew to hate the business. I was competing with either house knife rental/lease services or "the other guy in the van". Both offered faster service for far less cost. The best I could do was 60 knives an hour on site for a few dollars per knife and even this wasn't good enough. The quality of the work being performed was irrelevant.
Funny story, one time I ran into "the other guy in the van" at one of my stops, I was surprised and thrilled because I could meet another sharpener and see how he does things. I had a pretty big van but his was nearly twice the length of mine so I was dying to see what he had inside that thing. When I hopped up in to introduce myself I almost fell backwards at what I saw for equipment.....1 Tru-Hone (giant sized Chef's Choice)....that's it! I'm not making this up either, that's all this guy had in his truck, a pull through device and the rest was all bench space, this just blew my mind. Turns out the guy was a butt head and not as happy to see me as I was to see him.
At 60/hr you're SMOKIN!!!! I think the most I have EVER done was 50 in a day.
Originally Posted by Dave Martell
Originally Posted by Pabloz
In my van, where everything was set up to perfection, I could do that when I needed to but the reality is that only the real big places offered that many at once. It was real common to do 30 in a 1/2 hr though and it's funny to think that some people thought I was too slow at that pace.
Yeah, know the feeling.
Me also went from a restaurant to restaurant to look for funny exotic blades to sharpen. Even though I would say I just want one to show you guys what sharp is, they would refuse.
Once I went to "the best sushi place in the city".... They sharpened their own knives. I noticed one of the chefs cuts sashimi with global chefs knife, and had no other knives around. I left.
Now I basically dont care anymore. I dont have enough time to sharpen shite knives, I pick carefully the things I will sharpen and polish, and get to know the owner s of them, so I can find out what how they use their knives. For those wisemen price aint a problem.
But I also know those folks who wants to earn in the industry but dont want to spend money on proper tools maintenance.
In my first quarter of school (about to enter my second, first in the kitchen), and I told one of my classmate/buddies about how we got 15% by being students. Later he went in to pick some stuff up and sharpen his Mercer's, but told me that they wouldn't apply that 15% to their sharpening service.
I asked how much they charged, and he said $3 per knife. I thought I heard him say $3, but it didn't make any sense. "Thirty dollars?," I said..."No, $3," he said, "I wouldn't want to pay more than that."
I didn't really didn't know much about knives at this point. Didn't know about stone sharpening versus whatever it is they use at SLT (diamond something?). But I was shocked he would mention that the 15% discount didn't apply to that price.