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ian

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What do y’all do, those of you that sharpen professionally? I just do it on the side to subsidize my knife/stone addiction, so I won’t use methods of advertising that require a huge investment of time or money. But I’m curious what y’all do, both you amateurish sharpeners like me and you people who are trying to make a living from it.

Edit: So far all my business has come from Facebook, mostly from a local cooks group, and a few jobs from a Marketplace ad. I posted on Craigslist, but got no responses. It’s not the price, as I’m charging $3 a knife atm, but I get that people may be reluctant to drop off their knives at some random guy’s house.
 

nakiriknaifuwaifu

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Following. I've put up a few ads on "The List of Craig" (is that name allowed here?) but outside of friends and family I don't get as many folks interested as I would like to.

Also @ian how do you make enough money to fund your purchases at $3 a knife? The knives I get are so dull it takes me a good 20 - 30 minutes from start to finish (including washing and cleaning the knife). I take most #150/#400/#1000 and stropped on #3000 stone
 
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ian

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I’m under no illusions that I’m funding my knife purchases with my sharpening income. 😂

Mostly, the sharpening allows me to buy an extra stone once in while. But I also sell a knife basically every time I but one, so the knife hobby isn’t nearly as much of a money pit as it could be. I try to keep the amount of money I spend on it sort of like what you’d spend on a normal hobby, whatever that may be,

You can get faster at it, though. It usually takes me 10 min or so for a stupid dull knife, depending. I basically do all the work on a 200ish grit stone, setting a pretty acute angle, then jump up to 500ish, polish the acute bevel and set another more conservative one, and strop on cardboard. The super dull knives are usually crap steel, so there’s no point in going higher. That said, they can slice (semi-taut) paper towel smoothly at that point, so that’s good in my book. For good Wusthof or comparable, I might finish on a Chosera 800 instead. Mass market Japanese stainless like Shun gets Gesshin 2000. Carbon I’ll finish on Gesshin 4000.
 

ian

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Hmm, not sure that’s the market I’m going for, but maybe it should be. I’m not trying to compete with @Forty Ounce or anyone, mostly looking to sharpen local people’s beat up Shuns, and I’m not sure they look at that stuff. But who knows, maybe they do. Food for thought.
 

ian

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Following. I've put up a few ads on "The List of Craig" (is that name allowed here?) but outside of friends and family I don't get as many folks interested as I would like to.

Also @ian how do you make enough money to fund your purchases at $3 a knife? The knives I get are so dull it takes me a good 20 - 30 minutes from start to finish (including washing and cleaning the knife). I take most #150/#400/#1000 and stropped on #3000 stone
Hmm... probably I should also say that 10 min is perhaps the most often estimate, but it’s also the lower limit for dull knives. If anything goes wrong, if the steel is really fatigued, or if I (god forbid) have to refinish slightly, it def takes longer. I had an off day (or something) a couple weeks ago where I just couldn’t get a good edge on these Wusthofs. Took forever. Annoying as f***.
 

amithrain

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I emailed Peter Nowlan about this a while ago and he said that he walked into a restaurant supply store and asked who sharpened the knives they sold. They said no one, so he showed them what he could do. He gave them 30% profit and soon he had four other restaurant supply stores sending him their knives to sharpen or something. He did no advertising and word of mouth was how his buisness spread
 

M1k3

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I emailed Peter Nowlan about this a while ago and he said that he walked into a restaurant supply store and asked who sharpened the knives they sold. They said no one, so he showed them what he could do. He gave them 30% profit and soon he had four other restaurant supply stores sending him their knives to sharpen or something. He did no advertising and word of mouth was how his buisness spread
🤔🤔🤔🤔
 

nutmeg

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I've been in kitchens for more than a decade now and $3/ knife is not something I've seen so far!

With a friend we are thinking about starting a sharpening service for restaurants as well. We are going to charge a higher price for the first time because generally, the knives are f**** up.
Our goal is to show people how to maintain their knives carefully every day (we think, the rod is what destroys geometry the most. And dull is easy to fix, geometry: more time consuming). First is to show how to maintain with what they have, a rod for example. And eventually a cheap mid-grit stone, 1-3k sounds ok to us.

When we notice knives are dull but maintained with respect, we'll reduce prices drastically. Our goal is that people don't need us anymore after a year or two.

Anyway, you'll be more successful when asking in your neighborhood than by running add on TV during the Super Bowl.
Facebook and IG are not targetty enough IMO. You don't want to reach 10000 people. 50 motivated people is a wonderful start.
And if money is not the goal, chefs won't say no if you give your first sharpening service for a free meal or so (depending on how expensive the meal is, naturally)

Best of luck!
 
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lemeneid

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I put my ad on our local classified app.

I used to do crap knives on a buffer wheel. Then I realised it was a waste of my time, picking up the knives and sharpening them. So now I only take in KKF-type knives (Japanese knives and good western makers). I'm more interested the learning curve in sharpening high-end knives than making pocket change, so at least with these knives I can charge a little more, while at the same time be happy with the work I do with them. So I've got the opportunity to work with Katos, Shigs, Ashis, Kramer, Xerxes, etc... great way to experience other knives without owning them.

For crap knives I used to do, it was a buffer wheel most of the time, and maybe a few passes on 1000 grit stone if I felt they could hold their edge slightly longer. For these knives, I aim for $15 and attempt a 5min turnaround on wheels and 10mins if it goes on stones. For Japanese knives, I looked at the knife, how much it is worth, the job needed to be done and quoted a price.

That said, from time to time, you do get duds with Japanese knives. I recently got a triplet of Masamoto single bevel duds. Machine finished and all three came with low spots and a huge secondary bevel. The most painful 3 knives I ever got.

Interestingly, I get more requests to polish katanas and machetes on my ad, but thats maybe because I advertised sharpening on natural stones I guess. And enquiries for people who want to buy my Denkas 😂

Anyway it isn’t worth doing sharpening for a living here. I know approximately how many knives the “professional” sharpener here sharpens, and it’s not worth it in my opinion.
 
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LewRob80

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During the lockdown here (March-may) I advertised knife sharpening through Facebook groups in local neighbourhoods and through marketplace. I picked up/dropped off to get exercise and charged $5-10 depending on size, damage and if more work was necessary. Kept me busy enough and a little extra money (as the restaurant I’m the chef at was closed)
 
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Bensbites

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I would walk into a few local restaurants and drop off a business card. I bet things pick up quick.
 

jwthaparc

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I set up at an outside market on the weekends to supplement my income, because I need more than my cooking job. I charge people 5 for a pocket knife. $2 extra if it needs repairs, and 2 extra if they want me to go above my chosera 800. I charge more for larger knives.

Bensbites has a good plan and it's my next step after getting business cards made.
 
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ian

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Missed connections:

“Me, walking down the sidewalk holding a rose. You, sitting in your home in another part of the city, not f**king clicking on my g**d*mn sharpening advertisement.”
 

Leo Barr

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My late wife set up our company on Twitter have a descent logo then follow & unfollow & refollow your targets it gets you noticed now I use Instagram on the whole I post the chefs knives I have sharpened with the restaurant I have sharpened in I do not use the telephone all work comes through Dms prices are done in 25mm increments there are prices for double bevel and higher prices for single/wide bevels. I rarely charge extra for repairs.We aimed high so AA rosette & Michelin star places all done by hand on Japanese whetstones & natural stones which I use for carbon steels. I often have big distances to travel but I do not charge for travel although I have a minimum number I will do. Some restaurants pay for their chefs others leave it to the chefs I will sharpen any knife given since often a cheap knife may earn a lot of money prepping meat or it may have particular value to a chef since it may have been their first knife. I am also a Ltd company so I can invoice especially when the companies pay I also use a card reader for payments or accept BACS.
Chef are social media users they don't answer calls & more & more people hate paper. If you feel the need to give out cards(I have some but I probably give out 5 a year & thats when asked) do not give them to FOH go to the kitchen entrance between service then hand over a card to a Chef.
 
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RDalman

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I do some sharpening on the side for the local hunters (easy belt grinder sharpening) but don't feel for taking payments, so only accept random gifts in the form of food, works really well just got a whole boar leg dropped off 😁😆
 

Leo Barr

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I do some sharpening on the side for the local hunters (easy belt grinder sharpening) but don't feel for taking payments, so only accept random gifts in the form of food, works really well just got a whole boar leg dropped off 😁😆
I do get invited to staff food but I do this as my income have to say the best staff was Christmas staff food at L'Enclume we had roast duck probably the best Christmas meal ever
 

Forty Ounce

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Just a note: I'd think about charging more than $3.. a decent sharpening job should cost at least $10 per knife. As far as advertising, it's all about word of mouth.
 

ian

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Just a note: I'd think about charging more than $3.. a decent sharpening job should cost at least $10 per knife. As far as advertising, it's all about word of mouth.
Yea, it's hard for me to know what I should charge in order to maximize interest. Food for thought.
 

Forty Ounce

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Yea, it's hard for me to know what I should charge in order to maximize interest. Food for thought.
It's not even just to maximize interest.. people will inevitably bring you knives that are in absolutely terrible condition, and they will take a long time to get sharp.. you'll be cursing the entire time.. don't be afraid to charge a reasonable price. This isn't a skill that is easy to learn, and it's even harder to become good.
Btw, I hope you have power tools and the skills to use them. Be aware that sharpening only the edge, and not worrying about cross sectional geometry, will cost you return business. People will blame wedging on the last person to touch their knives. Hopefully this doesn't scare you, that's not my intention, lol. Good luck!!
 

ian

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I’ve been doing it casually for a while now, but just curious how to get more consistent customer interest. No power tools, so sometimes it’s a b*tch. Basically, I’ve been charging so little because I enjoy doing it and want to improve, but I don’t really need the extra money. It’s a good point about the thinning. I don’t do much of that for $3 on crap knives, but I do cut in a pretty acute bevel on the first pass.
 

M1k3

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Like suggested, hit up restaurant supply stores and restaurants. Maybe make an Instagram to show examples of some of the bad before and after ones.
 
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jwthaparc

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I’ve been doing it casually for a while now, but just curious how to get more consistent customer interest. No power tools, so sometimes it’s a b*tch. Basically, I’ve been charging so little because I enjoy doing it and want to improve, but I don’t really need the extra money. It’s a good point about the thinning. I don’t do much of that for $3 on crap knives, but I do cut in a pretty acute bevel on the first pass
I know if I was going to thin a knife for someone it would cost them at least 30 dollars. Just because of all the wear it would put on my stones. I'm assuming if I have to thin it they have never thinned before so it would take quite a lot of time. I feel like most people would possibly charge well over 30 for that actually.
 
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ian

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Yea. Tbh, I'm not so worried about people complaining about wedging on their Wusthofs and Vics. They're usually as thin or thinner behind the edge as when I got them, and I think my main local competition is like the local kitchen store or Ace hardware, and I'm pretty sure they don't do as good a job. Maybe I'm being naive tho.
 

jwthaparc

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I think my main local competition is like the local kitchen store or Ace hardware, and I'm pretty sure they don't do as good a job. Maybe I'm being naive tho.
I'm not sure about where you live, but if you think so then you're probably right.
 

M1k3

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Yea. Tbh, I'm not so worried about people complaining about wedging on their Wusthofs and Vics. They're usually as thin or thinner behind the edge as when I got them, and I think my main local competition is like the local kitchen store or Ace hardware, and I'm pretty sure they don't do as good a job. Maybe I'm being naive tho.
Maybe pick up a something cheap like a Mora and use that to evaluate what you're up against?
 

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