Questions about offering sharpening service locally

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

Wagnum

Poor choice maker
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
131
Reaction score
165
Location
Canada
I'm going to post an add on my local buy and sell and start sharpening knives for people. I've already got an idea of what I'm going to charge and how I'm going to deal with drop off/pick up and a rough idea of what I can get done in a day. Basically I'm at the stage where I'm wondering what I'm missing. I think I've got it all covered but you know how these things go. To the people who sharpen semi-professionally, what is something you wish you knew before you started?
 

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,640
Reaction score
5,095
Location
South Australia & London
Many (most?) people who bring knives needing to be ‘sharpened’ actually have knives that need chip removal / repairing and subsequent re-profiling and thinning. Put it in your price list.

Outside of pro kitchens there aren’t many people who use single bevel knives in western countries. But just in case - you’d want to price them higher too.

And of course it goes without saying - a 25% surcharge for f***ing Globals.

Little bit of fine grit sandpaper or wire wool and some mineral oil makes old handles look spiffy in about 30 seconds. People will be very impressed for almost no effort.
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2012
Messages
758
Reaction score
1,010
I don't sharpen semi-professionally, but even just doing favors, and reading others' answers to questions like yours, my impression is that you are unlikely to be fully prepared for the wretched state of many of the knives that people will send your way.

I had someone who wanted me to sharpen a comically huge knife. It took me some time to realize that it was for displaying on your wall, and was not made of steel that could ever take a decent edge.

Another was one of those slicers with scallops in the sides. It had spent so much time on a belt sander that some of the scallops had reached the edge. Really took a lot of care to not make that situation any worse, while still sharpening.

General consensus is that you need something powered, a grinder or a belt sander, to do serious repairs in a cost-effective way.

Then there's the serration issue...
 
Joined
Mar 8, 2022
Messages
10
Reaction score
30
Location
New Mexico
I have been sharpening at a small local farmers market for the past three years, and servicing restaurant knives for six. 200 grit range stones will be your new best friend. I personally use a Suehiro MD 20 for repair / bevel setting and find it to be a great coarse stone. I rarely find myself going beyond 1k finish. My most used stones are all between 200 and 800 grit, I’d say less than 15% of the knives I encounter are worthy of 2k or higher finish. Naniwa Pro 600 or Shapton Pro 1000 all day.
 

Wagnum

Poor choice maker
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
131
Reaction score
165
Location
Canada
I don't sharpen semi-professionally, but even just doing favors, and reading others' answers to questions like yours, my impression is that you are unlikely to be fully prepared for the wretched state of many of the knives that people will send your way.

I had someone who wanted me to sharpen a comically huge knife. It took me some time to realize that it was for displaying on your wall, and was not made of steel that could ever take a decent edge.

Another was one of those slicers with scallops in the sides. It had spent so much time on a belt sander that some of the scallops had reached the edge. Really took a lot of care to not make that situation any worse, while still sharpening.

General consensus is that you need something powered, a grinder or a belt sander, to do serious repairs in a cost-effective way.

Then there's the serration issue...
I'm already planning on making sure people know that sharpening a serrated edge is not something I offer. I'm expecting to see some beat up knives but maybe it's worse than I expect. Unfortunately there's only one way to know for sure
 

Wagnum

Poor choice maker
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
131
Reaction score
165
Location
Canada
I have been sharpening at a small local farmers market for the past three years, and servicing restaurant knives for six. 200 grit range stones will be your new best friend. I personally use a Suehiro MD 20 for repair / bevel setting and find it to be a great coarse stone. I rarely find myself going beyond 1k finish. My most used stones are all between 200 and 800 grit, I’d say less than 15% of the knives I encounter are worthy of 2k or higher finish. Naniwa Pro 600 or Shapton Pro 1000 all day.

We're on the same page here. I plan on using either a pink brick or a SG320 for setting the edge and a SG1000 for the edges. I might mess around with using a green brick for the second stone just because of size/price
 

inferno

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) <*))))><
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
4,332
Reaction score
2,948
Location
(⌐■_■)
I'm going to post an add on my local buy and sell and start sharpening knives for people. I've already got an idea of what I'm going to charge and how I'm going to deal with drop off/pick up and a rough idea of what I can get done in a day. Basically I'm at the stage where I'm wondering what I'm missing. I think I've got it all covered but you know how these things go. To the people who sharpen semi-professionally, what is something you wish you knew before you started?

if i was gonna do this i would get some kind of machine that you can run on very low rpms (to prevent overheating) to do all the chips and such.

i would charge 10€ for sharpening and maybe 15€ if there are chips.

and for cheap knives it could be 5€ but then it would only be belt grinder/machine, no stones.
 

inferno

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) <*))))><
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
4,332
Reaction score
2,948
Location
(⌐■_■)
We're on the same page here. I plan on using either a pink brick or a SG320 for setting the edge and a SG1000 for the edges. I might mess around with using a green brick for the second stone just because of size/price
shapton pro 220 if you now must do it by hand imo. or a sealed sigma 240. or get the 240 green king or bear or whatever the **** its called. its twice as large as the sigma. same price. you have to seal this one too. its made out of green SiC. very aggressive. wears quite fast too.
 

inferno

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) <*))))><
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
4,332
Reaction score
2,948
Location
(⌐■_■)
here is a simple solution if you dont want to buy a belt grinder. i use mine with a bosch adjustable drilling machine. its basically a holder for angle grinder discs. i use the cubitron2 ones. they are the best ones.

i turned a custom piece in a lathe for this to happen. but other than that is off the shelf standard hardware. mine is made to run 2 discs side by side. to increase surface area. effectively turning it in to a low rpm bench grinder. the holes in the angle grinder discs are 22,2mm if im remembering this right. this needs to be tight.

this will save you LOTS of time compared to stones.

i also have a mount for my drill as you can see. so i can mount it to whatever. and in any kind of angle.

grinding wheel2.JPG



grinding wheel1.JPG
 

Wagnum

Poor choice maker
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
131
Reaction score
165
Location
Canada
shapton pro 220 if you now must do it by hand imo. or a sealed sigma 240. or get the 240 green king or bear or whatever the **** its called. its twice as large as the sigma. same price. you have to seal this one too. its made out of green SiC. very aggressive. wears quite fast too.
Thanks for the suggestions but I'm not looking to get any more stones
 

ian

Refined, yet toothy
KKF Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
5,652
Reaction score
11,685
Location
Boston, MA
Idk, I think you prob know what kind of knives to expect. Mostly they’re extremely dull crap stainless, or low end J knives with microchips. Some of these responses make it seem like every other knife you get is gonna be a Calphalon with a 5mm chip. Maybe one thing to be aware of is you’ll get a lot of knives that need the bolsters reduced. Do you have a quick way to do that and make it look decent?

It’s also useful to give people specific packaging directions when they drop off. I’ve started asking people to roll their knives in a kitchen towel if they don’t have individual knife guards. Works well enough that you don’t need to make newsprint sayas, although that can certainly be a step up if you do do that, and do it well.

You say you have your pricing figured out, but maybe just be confident you won’t want to raise your prices again in 6 months. It stressed me out when I decided to go from “ridiculously cheap” to “cheap” a while ago.

If you decide to take bread knives, know that you’ll hate yourself for ages until you start to feel competent at doing them. At least, that’s what I hear from @Runner_up. I never got past the hating myself stage, and don’t really care enough to get past it. I’m also not great at scissors…. F’ed up the set too many times. Anyway, you should figure out your policy with respect to scissors, garden tools, etc.

And of course, if you f something up, be overgenerous in response. You’re never going to miss a few bucks that you lost. I once gave someone a delicate edge on an Aritsugu, like one that I’d want to use, and then they chipped it 2 weeks later. I of course fixed the chip for free, which was pretty easy since the knife was thin bte, but I think I was a little too defensive in my response, and I should have given her some money too.

Then again, I’m no real expert here. I only sharpen semi regularly nowadays.

Regarding progressions, the following is pretty accurate for me, although nowadays I use a belt instead of 200 grit stones.

I have been sharpening at a small local farmers market for the past three years, and servicing restaurant knives for six. 200 grit range stones will be your new best friend. I personally use a Suehiro MD 20 for repair / bevel setting and find it to be a great coarse stone. I rarely find myself going beyond 1k finish. My most used stones are all between 200 and 800 grit, I’d say less than 15% of the knives I encounter are worthy of 2k or higher finish. Naniwa Pro 600 or Shapton Pro 1000 all day.

Also, learn to be ok with no-shows, and schedule accordingly. You’ll get a bunch of them, as knives aren’t a priority for most people.
 
Last edited:

Wagnum

Poor choice maker
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
131
Reaction score
165
Location
Canada
Idk, I think you prob know what kind of knives to expect. Mostly they’re extremely dull crap stainless, or low end J knives with microchips. Some of these responses make it seem like every other knife you get is gonna be a Calphalon with a 5mm chip. Maybe one thing to be aware of is you’ll get a lot of knives that need the bolsters reduced. Do you have a quick way to do that and make it look decent?

It’s also useful to give people specific packaging directions when they drop off. I’ve started asking people to roll their knives in a kitchen towel if they don’t have individual knife guards. Works well enough that you don’t need to make newsprint sayas, although that can certainly be a step up if you do do that, and do it well.

You say you have your pricing figured out, but maybe just be confident you won’t want to raise your prices again in 6 months. It stressed me out when I decided to go from “ridiculously cheap” to “cheap” a while ago.

If you decide to take bread knives, know that you’ll hate yourself for ages until you start to feel competent at doing them. At least, that’s what I hear from @Runner_up. I never got past the hating myself stage, and don’t really care enough to get past it. I’m also not great at scissors…. F’ed up the set too many times. Anyway, you should figure out your policy with respect to scissors, garden tools, etc.

And of course, if you f something up, be overgenerous in response. You’re never going to miss a few bucks that you lost. I once gave someone a delicate edge on an Aritsugu, like one that I’d want to use, and then they chipped it 2 weeks later. I of course fixed the chip for free, which was pretty easy since the knife was thin bte, but I think I was a little too defensive in my response, and I should have given her some money too.

Then again, I’m no real expert here. I only sharpen semi regularly nowadays.

Regarding progressions, the following is pretty accurate for me, although nowadays I use a belt instead of 200 grit stones.



Also, learn to be ok with no-shows, and schedule accordingly. You’ll get a bunch of them, as knives aren’t a priority for most people.

Good point about the pricing. I might bump it up a couple bucks
 

Runner_up

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
604
Reaction score
1,056
Location
Boston
Hi, full time blade and tool sharpener here. 🙋‍♂️

Some things to think about..

- What's your end goal?
Is this a hobby? A part time business? A career? How much money are you looking to make? If you expect to make big bucks by only investing 15-20 hours a week you'll be in for a rude awakening. At least for the first year + until you're established and have a clientele base built up. If you want to treat this as a hobby that occasionally pays for a new stone/knife that's very obtainable.

- Where will you be working from?
Do you have shop space? Are you working from home? Renting a stall at farmers markets?
All of these have pros and cons. If you're just starting out, it will be extremely difficult to make any profit if you have the overhead of rent. If you're working from home, be prepared to have folks knocking on your door at all hours. Even if you're "appointment only" or "closed", they will still come and bug you. Are you ok with that?

- Do you have competition, and what is the demographic of your area?
In some way, shape, or form (quality of work, price$, turnaround, customer service etc) you will have to compete with other sharpeners in your area. Do you have a high end knife store nearby that does quality work? A guy in a van running knives on a grinder? The local hardware store? In any case you will have to price yourself accordingly to compete - folks will simply not pay higher prices until you are very well established and come highly recommended. I guarantee that if you price yourself higher than the competition right out of the gate your business will suffer as you're an unknown quantity. Is your area wealthy and urban, or more rural? This will also greatly effect the prices you can charge.

- What services will you offer?
You will drastically limit how much you can make if you only sharpen straight edge kitchen knives. Learn how to sharpen serrated blades, scissors, saws, gardening tools, shears, hunting or pocket knives, straight razors, clippers etc.. Folks will go elsewhere if they can get all of their tools sharpened at the same place.

- Will you be full time, or part time?
Customers will expect flexibility on your part when it comes to drop off/pick up, and expediency when it comes to turn around time. They will not be understanding if they have to wait 5 days for their knives back because you've been too busy with your full time job, had a birthday party to go to, wanted to have a date night with your spouse etc.. If you have very limited availability (eg, you're only "open" nights and weekends) due to another job/family responsibilities/ other hobbies you'll find it hard to have consistent work and make enough money for the whole thing to be worthwhile. It also becomes very frustrating to do this part time and absorb the wasted time that results from folks running late/ no showing. Yes, it will happen. A lot. (@ian is completely correct - for many folks getting knives sharpened is not a priority. Neither is your time.) Having a lock box is a good idea if it's feasible for you - but personally I think people really appreciate getting to meet you/ ask questions.

- Who are your customers?
Pro chefs? Home cooks? Foodies? Grandma and grandpa who haven't had their knives sharpened in 40 years (and are used to paying $1.00/inch for sharpening)? Different customers will have different expectations and you'll have to respond accordingly. One note on sharpening for pro cooks - they all fu*k up their knives. Most have been "sharpening" themselves incorrectly for god knows how long, and you can expect to put in twice the amount of time and effort (at least) to make them right again.

- How will you advertise?
People need to find your business. Posting ads on the local buy sell or craigslist did very, very little for me. Facebook can be helpful, as is paying for some google advertising (but this gets costly, quickly). When I first started I was up at 3.30am every morning to put fliers out on town boards, in apt building lobbies, in business windows if they were friendly towards the idea etc. Eventually as you grow word of mouth will be the absolute best form of advertising.

- What is your skill level?
This is where it's very important to be honest with yourself. I thought I was a pretty good sharpener before I started my business. The first thing I learned was that I had a lot to learn. Are you just doing edge sharpening? Are you proficient at thinning and have a solid understanding of differing blade geometries? Can you correct bends and warps? Tweak a knife for left hand users? Correct bolsters? Restore rusted blades? Repair handles? Service traditional single bevel blades? Are you skilled at refinishing (whether kasumi, mirror polished, brushed satin/hairline, Ku finish, etching etc..)? It's very easy to think you're highly skilled if you only sharpen your own knives that are likely high(er) quality and treated well.

I don't mean to discourage you at all. I think with the correct mindset, a willingness to hustle and outwork others, quality customer service, and a good business sense you can do well for yourself. Although that depends on what your idea of "doing well" is. That said, I've seen a lot of folks try to start a sharpening business over the past two years and quickly give up. I think many assume it will be easy, straightforward, and nothing but fun. The reality, as it often is, will be quite different from the expectation.
 
Last edited:

Wagnum

Poor choice maker
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
131
Reaction score
165
Location
Canada
Hi, full time blade and tool sharpener here. 🙋‍♂️

Some things to think about..

- What's your end goal?
Is this a hobby? A part time business? A career? How much money are you looking to make? If you expect to make big bucks by only investing 15-20 hours a week you'll be in for a rude awakening. At least for the first year + until you're established and have a clientele base built up. If you want to treat this as a hobby that occasionally pays for a new stone/knife that's very obtainable.

- Where will you be working from?
Do you have shop space? Are you working from home? Renting a stall at farmers markets?
All of these have pros and cons. If you're just starting out, it will be extremely difficult to make any profit if you have the overhead of rent. If you're working from home, be prepared to have folks knocking on your door at all hours. Even if you're "appointment only" or "closed", they will still come and bug you. Are you ok with that?

- Do you have competition, and what is the demographic of your area?
In some way, shape, or form (quality of work, price$, turnaround, customer service etc) you will have to compete with other sharpeners in your area. Do you have a high end knife store nearby that does quality work? A guy in a van running knives on a grinder? The local hardware store? In any case you will have to price yourself accordingly to compete - folks will simply not pay higher prices until you are very well established and come highly recommended. I guarantee that if you price yourself higher than the competition right out of the gate your business will suffer as you're an unknown quantity. Is your area wealthy and urban, or rural? This will also greatly effect the prices you can charge.

- What services will you offer?
You will drastically limit how much you can make if you only sharpen straight edge kitchen knives. Learn how to sharpen serrated blades, scissors, saws, gardening tools, shears, hunting or pocket knives, clippers etc.. Folks will go elsewhere if they can get all of their tools sharpened at the same place.

- Will you be full time, or part time?
Customers will expect flexibility on your part when it comes to drop off/pick up, and expediency when it comes to turn around time. They will not be understanding if they have to wait 5 days for their knives back because you've been too busy with your full time job, had a birthday party to go to, wanted to have a date night with your spouse etc.. If you have very limited availability (eg, you're only "open" nights and weekends) due to another job/family responsibilities/ other hobbies you'll find it hard to have consistent work and make enough money for the whole thing to be worthwhile. It also becomes very frustrating to do this part time and absorb the wasted time that results in folks running late/ no showing. Yes, it will happen. A lot. (@ian is completely correct - knife sharpening isn't a priority for most folks. Neither is your time.) Having a lock box is a good idea if it's feasible for you - but personally I think people really appreciate getting to meet you/ ask questions.

- Who are your customers?
Pro chefs? Home cooks? Foodies? Grandma and grandpa who haven't had their knives sharpened in 40 years (and are used to paying $1.00/inch for sharpening)? Different customers will have different expectations and you'll have to respond accordingly. One note on sharpening for pro cooks - they all fu*k up their knives. Most have been "sharpening" themselves incorrectly for god knows how long, and you can expect to put in twice the amount of time and effort (at least) to make them right again.

- How will you advertise?
People need to find your business. Posting ads on the local buy sell or craigslist did very, very little for me. Facebook can be helpful, as is paying for some google advertising (but this gets costly, quickly). When I first started I was up at 3.30am every morning to put fliers out on town boards, in apt building lobbies, in business windows if they were friendly towards the idea etc. Eventually as you grow word of mouth will be the absolute best form of advertising.

- What is your skill level?
This is where it's very important to be honest with yourself. I thought I was a pretty good sharpener before I started my business. The first thing I learned was that I had a lot to learn. Are you just doing edge sharpening? Are you proficient at thinning and have a solid understanding of differing blade geometries? Can you correct bends and warps? Tweak a knife for left hand users? Correct bolsters? Restore rusted blades? Repair handles? Service traditional single bevel blades? Are you skilled at refinishing (whether kasumi, mirror polished, brushed satin or hairline, Ku finish, etching etc..)? It's very easy to think you're highly skilled if you only sharpen your own knives that are likely high(er) quality and treated well.

I don't mean to discourage you at all. I think with the correct mindset, a willingness to hustle and outwork others, quality customer service, and a good business sense you can do well for yourself. Although that depends on what your idea of "doing well" is. That said, I have seen a lot of folks try to start a sharpening business over the past two years and quickly give up. I think many assume it will be easy, straightforward, and nothing but fun. The reality, as it often is, will be quite different from the expectation.
Thanks for this
 

ian

Refined, yet toothy
KKF Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
5,652
Reaction score
11,685
Location
Boston, MA
Hi, full time blade and tool sharpener here. 🙋‍♂️

Some things to think about..

- What's your end goal?
Is this a hobby? A part time business? A career? How much money are you looking to make? If you expect to make big bucks by only investing 15-20 hours a week you'll be in for a rude awakening. At least for the first year + until you're established and have a clientele base built up. If you want to treat this as a hobby that occasionally pays for a new stone/knife that's very obtainable.

- Where will you be working from?
Do you have shop space? Are you working from home? Renting a stall at farmers markets?
All of these have pros and cons. If you're just starting out, it will be extremely difficult to make any profit if you have the overhead of rent. If you're working from home, be prepared to have folks knocking on your door at all hours. Even if you're "appointment only" or "closed", they will still come and bug you. Are you ok with that?

- Do you have competition, and what is the demographic of your area?
In some way, shape, or form (quality of work, price$, turnaround, customer service etc) you will have to compete with other sharpeners in your area. Do you have a high end knife store nearby that does quality work? A guy in a van running knives on a grinder? The local hardware store? In any case you will have to price yourself accordingly to compete - folks will simply not pay higher prices until you are very well established and come highly recommended. I guarantee that if you price yourself higher than the competition right out of the gate your business will suffer as you're an unknown quantity. Is your area wealthy and urban, or more rural? This will also greatly effect the prices you can charge.

- What services will you offer?
You will drastically limit how much you can make if you only sharpen straight edge kitchen knives. Learn how to sharpen serrated blades, scissors, saws, gardening tools, shears, hunting or pocket knives, straight razors, clippers etc.. Folks will go elsewhere if they can get all of their tools sharpened at the same place.

- Will you be full time, or part time?
Customers will expect flexibility on your part when it comes to drop off/pick up, and expediency when it comes to turn around time. They will not be understanding if they have to wait 5 days for their knives back because you've been too busy with your full time job, had a birthday party to go to, wanted to have a date night with your spouse etc.. If you have very limited availability (eg, you're only "open" nights and weekends) due to another job/family responsibilities/ other hobbies you'll find it hard to have consistent work and make enough money for the whole thing to be worthwhile. It also becomes very frustrating to do this part time and absorb the wasted time that results in folks running late/ no showing. Yes, it will happen. A lot. (@ian is completely correct - for many folks getting knives sharpened is not a priority. Neither is your time.) Having a lock box is a good idea if it's feasible for you - but personally I think people really appreciate getting to meet you/ ask questions.

- Who are your customers?
Pro chefs? Home cooks? Foodies? Grandma and grandpa who haven't had their knives sharpened in 40 years (and are used to paying $1.00/inch for sharpening)? Different customers will have different expectations and you'll have to respond accordingly. One note on sharpening for pro cooks - they all fu*k up their knives. Most have been "sharpening" themselves incorrectly for god knows how long, and you can expect to put in twice the amount of time and effort (at least) to make them right again.

- How will you advertise?
People need to find your business. Posting ads on the local buy sell or craigslist did very, very little for me. Facebook can be helpful, as is paying for some google advertising (but this gets costly, quickly). When I first started I was up at 3.30am every morning to put fliers out on town boards, in apt building lobbies, in business windows if they were friendly towards the idea etc. Eventually as you grow word of mouth will be the absolute best form of advertising.

- What is your skill level?
This is where it's very important to be honest with yourself. I thought I was a pretty good sharpener before I started my business. The first thing I learned was that I had a lot to learn. Are you just doing edge sharpening? Are you proficient at thinning and have a solid understanding of differing blade geometries? Can you correct bends and warps? Tweak a knife for left hand users? Correct bolsters? Restore rusted blades? Repair handles? Service traditional single bevel blades? Are you skilled at refinishing (whether kasumi, mirror polished, brushed satin/hairline, Ku finish, etching etc..)? It's very easy to think you're highly skilled if you only sharpen your own knives that are likely high(er) quality and treated well.

I don't mean to discourage you at all. I think with the correct mindset, a willingness to hustle and outwork others, quality customer service, and a good business sense you can do well for yourself. Although that depends on what your idea of "doing well" is. That said, I've seen a lot of folks try to start a sharpening business over the past two years and quickly give up. I think many assume it will be easy, straightforward, and nothing but fun. The reality, as it often is, will be quite different from the expectation.

Now that’s a response! ❤️
 
Joined
Jun 16, 2022
Messages
16
Reaction score
8
Location
Yakima County, WA
I am on a few sharpening FB groups and there's a plethora of people who do it at farmer's markets and wherever else. Coming from a (short) background in straight razors and starting to learn about sharpening knives properly, the differences between farmers market quick jobs, fine kitchen knives, crapp kitchen knives, and razors is very stark to me.

My advice would be know what kind of metal you are dealing with, and how the knife will be used.
 
Joined
Jun 11, 2018
Messages
177
Reaction score
283
Hi, full time blade and tool sharpener here. 🙋‍♂️

Some things to think about..

- What's your end goal?
Is this a hobby? A part time business? A career? How much money are you looking to make? If you expect to make big bucks by only investing 15-20 hours a week you'll be in for a rude awakening. At least for the first year + until you're established and have a clientele base built up. If you want to treat this as a hobby that occasionally pays for a new stone/knife that's very obtainable.

- Where will you be working from?
Do you have shop space? Are you working from home? Renting a stall at farmers markets?
All of these have pros and cons. If you're just starting out, it will be extremely difficult to make any profit if you have the overhead of rent. If you're working from home, be prepared to have folks knocking on your door at all hours. Even if you're "appointment only" or "closed", they will still come and bug you. Are you ok with that?

- Do you have competition, and what is the demographic of your area?
In some way, shape, or form (quality of work, price$, turnaround, customer service etc) you will have to compete with other sharpeners in your area. Do you have a high end knife store nearby that does quality work? A guy in a van running knives on a grinder? The local hardware store? In any case you will have to price yourself accordingly to compete - folks will simply not pay higher prices until you are very well established and come highly recommended. I guarantee that if you price yourself higher than the competition right out of the gate your business will suffer as you're an unknown quantity. Is your area wealthy and urban, or more rural? This will also greatly effect the prices you can charge.

- What services will you offer?
You will drastically limit how much you can make if you only sharpen straight edge kitchen knives. Learn how to sharpen serrated blades, scissors, saws, gardening tools, shears, hunting or pocket knives, straight razors, clippers etc.. Folks will go elsewhere if they can get all of their tools sharpened at the same place.

- Will you be full time, or part time?
Customers will expect flexibility on your part when it comes to drop off/pick up, and expediency when it comes to turn around time. They will not be understanding if they have to wait 5 days for their knives back because you've been too busy with your full time job, had a birthday party to go to, wanted to have a date night with your spouse etc.. If you have very limited availability (eg, you're only "open" nights and weekends) due to another job/family responsibilities/ other hobbies you'll find it hard to have consistent work and make enough money for the whole thing to be worthwhile. It also becomes very frustrating to do this part time and absorb the wasted time that results from folks running late/ no showing. Yes, it will happen. A lot. (@ian is completely correct - for many folks getting knives sharpened is not a priority. Neither is your time.) Having a lock box is a good idea if it's feasible for you - but personally I think people really appreciate getting to meet you/ ask questions.

- Who are your customers?
Pro chefs? Home cooks? Foodies? Grandma and grandpa who haven't had their knives sharpened in 40 years (and are used to paying $1.00/inch for sharpening)? Different customers will have different expectations and you'll have to respond accordingly. One note on sharpening for pro cooks - they all fu*k up their knives. Most have been "sharpening" themselves incorrectly for god knows how long, and you can expect to put in twice the amount of time and effort (at least) to make them right again.

- How will you advertise?
People need to find your business. Posting ads on the local buy sell or craigslist did very, very little for me. Facebook can be helpful, as is paying for some google advertising (but this gets costly, quickly). When I first started I was up at 3.30am every morning to put fliers out on town boards, in apt building lobbies, in business windows if they were friendly towards the idea etc. Eventually as you grow word of mouth will be the absolute best form of advertising.

- What is your skill level?
This is where it's very important to be honest with yourself. I thought I was a pretty good sharpener before I started my business. The first thing I learned was that I had a lot to learn. Are you just doing edge sharpening? Are you proficient at thinning and have a solid understanding of differing blade geometries? Can you correct bends and warps? Tweak a knife for left hand users? Correct bolsters? Restore rusted blades? Repair handles? Service traditional single bevel blades? Are you skilled at refinishing (whether kasumi, mirror polished, brushed satin/hairline, Ku finish, etching etc..)? It's very easy to think you're highly skilled if you only sharpen your own knives that are likely high(er) quality and treated well.

I don't mean to discourage you at all. I think with the correct mindset, a willingness to hustle and outwork others, quality customer service, and a good business sense you can do well for yourself. Although that depends on what your idea of "doing well" is. That said, I've seen a lot of folks try to start a sharpening business over the past two years and quickly give up. I think many assume it will be easy, straightforward, and nothing but fun. The reality, as it often is, will be quite different from the expectation.
Basically you have given everyone the business plan for sharpening! All spot on info though, I sell knives and sharpen for a living(not much of one yet). It is a job where you are continually learning, whether it is about sharpening or about advertising/promotion/product research/where to find low grit stones cheap.
I charge for basic sharpening but you have to add on for tips and chips or you will spend too much time on each knife. Your time is money. Good luck!
 

Benuser

from The Netherlands, EU.
KKF Supporting Member
Joined
May 3, 2011
Messages
8,252
Reaction score
2,946
Not sure people are prepared to pay for a stone sharpening when they can have it done with cooled powered tools for much less. What are you going to charge for repairing an abused Global with plenty of microchips after use of a pull-through and probably a damaged tip? The customer isn't even aware of those chips, but you won't get a stable edge without removing a millimetre of steel, followed by thinning and polishing.
You hardly can say you don't do Globals.
Are you going to reduce a fat German stainless fingerguard by hand? You can't charge for not having the necessary equipment.
 

Wagnum

Poor choice maker
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
131
Reaction score
165
Location
Canada
Not sure people are prepared to pay for a stone sharpening when they can have it done with cooled powered tools for much less. What are you going to charge for repairing an abused Global with plenty of microchips after use of a pull-through and probably a damaged tip? The customer isn't even aware of those chips, but you won't get a stable edge without removing a millimetre of steel, followed by thinning and polishing.
You hardly can say you don't do Globals.
Are you going to reduce a fat German stainless fingerguard by hand? You can't charge for not having the necessary equipment.
I am fully prepared to let people know when I can't help them and have no intention on taking jobs I'm incapable of doing with my current equipment. Definitely not going to try and grind a bolster down by hand. I'm just some guy posting in a Facebook group not a professional sharpener and the people whos knives I'm sharpening are aware of this
 

Wagnum

Poor choice maker
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
131
Reaction score
165
Location
Canada
Not sure people are prepared to pay for a stone sharpening when they can have it done with cooled powered tools for much less. What are you going to charge for repairing an abused Global with plenty of microchips after use of a pull-through and probably a damaged tip? The customer isn't even aware of those chips, but you won't get a stable edge without removing a millimetre of steel, followed by thinning and polishing.
You hardly can say you don't do Globals.
Are you going to reduce a fat German stainless fingerguard by hand? You can't charge for not having the necessary equipment.
Also near me they can't have it sharpened on anything for cheaper. The closest place is an hour drive away and costs more so I've got that going for me
 

BarryMM

Active Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2020
Messages
41
Reaction score
38
Location
Haarlem
I'm also in the process of starting a sharpening service. So to get a feel for the knives I would get and my name out, I'm sharpening for friends. Just today I received a bunch of knives to sharpen...butter knives:oops:
 

Attachments

  • 2022_0621_16395500-11.jpeg
    2022_0621_16395500-11.jpeg
    465.2 KB · Views: 0
Last edited:

M1k3

Viva la what the .... Chef?!!!?¿¿
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
7,743
Reaction score
12,228
I'm also in the process of starting a sharpening service. So to get a feel for the knives I would get and my name out, I'm sharpening for friends. Just today I received a bunch of knives to sharpen...butter knives:oops:
Curious, do they serve their butter frozen or something?
 

Wagnum

Poor choice maker
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
131
Reaction score
165
Location
Canada
I'm also in the process of starting a sharpening service. So to get a feel for the knives I would get and my name out, I'm sharpening for friends. Just today I received a bunch of knives to sharpen...butter knives:oops:
Not sure if this is a joke or not
 

BarryMM

Active Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2020
Messages
41
Reaction score
38
Location
Haarlem
Not sure if this is a joke or not
Nope. I asked her what she wanted me to do with them and if she used them as butterknives. Her answer was:"Yes I use them as butterknives, make them really sharp." I noticed some had worn down tiny serrations, looks like they have been abused with a pull trough sharpener.
 

tostadas

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
2,359
Reaction score
4,561
Location
California
Nope. I asked her what she wanted me to do with them and if she used them as butterknives. Her answer was:"Yes I use them as butterknives, make them really sharp." I noticed some had worn down tiny serrations, looks like they have been abused with a pull trough sharpener.
It still makes me laugh, but I've had relatives bring me butter knives also when I offered to help sharpen their knives for them. Just be happy they aren't asking you to sharpen their forks.
 
Top