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Sharpening as a side business?

Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:12 am

I enjoy spending time sharpening. Currently my equipment is rather junky. I've got a double sided stone of unknown make. I have a vintage sears and roebuck pocket hone...hehehe it's great for the line. I mean I can keep a sharpening stone in my pocket at work, how cool is that?

I also have a mysterious black rock stone, it looks natural, must have came from my german grandfather. I use it as a hone instead of a steel and works great.

All the time I spend sharpening knives I've said to myself "I enjoy this so much, why don't I get good at it and make some money."

I work in a kitchen. I put some nice edges on the cheap cutlery my boss uses. He's a chef with damn near fifty years experience and he's using stamped blades with plastic handles.

One particular knife I spent six hours on. I loved the zen like experience of relaxing with the steel and shaping the blade. I couldn't for the life of me get the damn burrs removed. After hours of polishing and probably sleep deprivation, I looked at the blade and it was polished nicely, it cut paper great. It sliced apples great. I felt good knowing it was right.

Re: Sharpening as a side business?

Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:30 pm

It seems you've been bitten by the bug. The Sharpening Bug. ;)

Off the top of my head it sounds as though that black stone is an Arkansas stone, but no sure way to tell without pictures. Mind sharing a few with us?

Sharpening as a side business for people who work in a kitchen is an excellent idea and also a great way to make friends. Typically sharpening for those around you isn't going to pay the light bills, but will no doubt earn you some extra beer money. :mrgreen:

If you start getting a little more serious into it you may want to look at grabbing an el-cheapo' Harbor Freight belt sander for heavier work. If you do go that route let us know so when can give you some pointers when the time comes.

Re: Sharpening as a side business?

Thu Oct 31, 2013 1:50 pm

I think part of my business model is going to be no belts :) If it ain't done by hand I just don't feel right. Although I did use a 50 year old half horse power sears roebuck bench grinder to fix a broken tip :)

Lesson learned...be careful with 3000RPM's...

Also I think from a personal safety standard doing the grinds the old fashioned way might save some hospital bills. I watched a video of Murry Carter in Japan talking about people losing hands and fingers when using hydraulic presses for cutting the pattern of the blade out of it's steel form.

I think there is a zen aspect to doing things by hand. I'm thinking of marketing my services to several high end kitichens. I'll be sure to share my spiel with everybody once I fine tune it.

I can honestly say I learned a lot of marketing skills when I worked as a Kirby Vaccume salesperson. Hahaha I lasted one week. But I really did learn that to be persuasive you've got to repeat statements.

One of pitches will be that you can't afford dull knives...Blood contaminated food costs hundreds of dollars, dull knives really are a hazard...blah blah blah.

Re: Sharpening as a side business?

Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:01 pm

It's hard line to take, especially if the professionals have had $5 grind jobs, they don't care since they just write the knifes off on tax each year.

A belt grinder is defiantly a good idea, cuts your costs in time and labour, gets you an extra 2-3 beers ;)
Although I haven't measured, I do offer my sharpening skills since my stones would probably last me a long long time.

About 97% of knives I have done, even for kitchen staff have been stainless stamped knives, they prefer something that will cut into the plastic boards rather then a polished edge.
Best advice if you go down that road keep to 2-3 stones and keep an eye on the clock.

Re: Sharpening as a side business?

Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:26 pm

I've looked into doing the same thing myself. One of the key factors I've come accross is trying to keep it at ~5 minutes per knife... without my harbor freight 4x32 belt grinder, its not really possible with some knives I have encountered.

Re: Sharpening as a side business?

Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:29 pm

And in all honesty. I got the grinder and 3 different grit belts for the cost of one high end stone.. definitely worth the investment

Re: Sharpening as a side business?

Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:51 pm

Yes, when I say belt sander, that's not implying that you use it for sharpening knives, but rather the repair work. Also, the Sears grinder you referenced is a bench grinder, not a belt grinder(sander). Typically if I've got some repair work or a thinning to do it's automatic to the belt grinder, then on to the stones after for a hand finished edge.

Re: Sharpening as a side business?

Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:21 am

If someone ever put any of my knife blades on a belt sander or grinder to sharpen them, they would be buying me a new knife. Stones and diamonds only for this guy.

Re: Sharpening as a side business?

Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:49 am

You sharpen the knife. How one goes about that depends on the knife. One can't always, in a timely fashion, sharpen every knife the same. Nor should one. 95 percent of what most sharpeners see is low quality stuff. In a public environment you have five minutes a knife max. You have to decide what method gives the customer the best result in that time frame. Plus there are interruptions when working alone. If you have the luxury of only working out of sight of the customer that expands the methods one can use since the time factor can increase. Its not the tool used its how that tool is used.

Re: Sharpening as a side business?

Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:22 pm

My goal in life is to unite
My avocation with my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.

― From Robert Frost 'Two Tramps in Mud Time'

Big mistake if you ask me. What you may do now for relaxation and love of the craft could well be ruined when you have to perform it under the gun in a manner which doesn't meet your personal expectations.
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