Yes It’s More Expensive, But…..
The other day I stumbled across a YouTube video of a one man sharpening service based out of Cairo, Egypt. He walks the streets in hope that he finds customers who are still willing to pay the premium to get their knives professionally sharpened. His outlook however, remains bleak; It’s a dying trade he says, and there’s no longer enough business to make it profitable. People don’t see the need to pay a professional knife sharpening service anymore, especially when they can sharpen knives themselves right in their home. Is it indeed fair to say that professionals are no longer required? If you can do it yourself, why should you pay someone else?
The truth is the answer to this question is more complicated than it seems. Before we go any further, it’s important to note the following: a good professional knife sharpening service can produce an edge that far exceeds that of a conventional sharpening system. The key word here is good/reputable; there’s a ton of lousy professional services that don’t deserve to be in business! If you want to keep your knives in tip top condition, you need to hone, sharpen, and strop. The sharpening aspect is something that you may need to both do yourself and outsource to a professional. Below are 5 times I would strongly suggest you consider a professional knife sharpening service to get the job done!
#1 Because Your Knives Aren’t Just A Tool, They’re An Investment!
You paid top dollar during your holiday in Tokyo to pick up that gyuto, but a couple months down the road you’re faced with a difficult decision: sharpen this bad boy yourself, or pay a professional and hope they will not ruin your $350 investment. What do you do? Should you whip out your $40 sharpener and try your luck restoring the edge on this delicately crafted, carefully forged piece of art? Not a chance. You’d be insane to even think this!
Here’s what I would do, if I were in this situation: find a reputable professional knife sharpening service that is experienced and capable of working on gyuto knives, specifically. They must have high reviews and testimonials for me to even consider them, and they must be willing to have a consultation with me before I pay them. Many of the good professionals out there will take the time to speak with you about how they intend on sharpening your knife, and what you can expect to see as far as results are concerned. The gyuto is simply an example here; don’t make the mistake of sharpening a $200-400 knife using a $40 sharpener. There’s a high chance you will destroy your edge!
#2 Too Many Knives To Wrap My Head Around!
Having a single dull knife is one thing, but having 20 dull knives is another! It becomes quite time consuming and challenging sharpening all these knives by yourself, and it gets to a point where a professional is likely the best solution. Restaurant owners and chefs can probably relate to this point. The truth is your efforts are probably better directed at doing something other than sharpening knives every so often. Your strategy should be to consult a professional service and strike up a long term deal i.e. I give you 20-30 dull knives a month, and in return you give me a discounted/wholesale price. You could even negotiate an advertising campaign to cut the price down even more! If you own a restaurant, displaying business cards/flyers may potentially be attractive to a professional knife sharpening service. The fact is that everyone and their grandmother owns a knife! And because of this, they need to get it sharpened one way or another because let’s be honest, dull knives suck!
#3 Nicks, Chips, And Large Imperfections
Ever damaged a knife so bad that it looks like absolute crap? Damage could be anything from nicks, chips, and/or imperfections. If you can relate, drop a comment and share your story below! When I first started to learn how to sharpen on stone, I remember completely wrecking this one kitchen knife, so much so that the edge was no longer straight. Here’s the thing: nicks, chips, and imperfections are best left in the hands of a professional knife sharpening service. Why? Simply because it takes a lot of effort to repair, and if you’re not an experienced sharpener, it can prove to be a challenging task. Professionals have access to extremely coarse grinding belts and stones that work on automated machines; this makes it quick and easy to remove steel and re-profile an edge if required.
Now, most people will argue that using an automated machine such as an electric knife sharpener serves the same purpose. In my honest opinion, this is a valid argument. You could consult a professional or use an electric sharpening system (provided you have a good one!). If it’s a knife I really like, I’d rather pay a professional to work on it instead of using my electric sharpener. This way I know for sure that my blade will be returned to me in pristine condition, and exactly the way I want it.
#4 If You Have Free Sharpening, Make Use Of It!
This one may seem blatantly obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t make use of the free sharpening offered to them by certain knife manufacturers. Spyderco is one such example; they offer free sharpening for all their spyder, plain and combination edges. All you have to pay is shipping and handling. Kyocera, another example, offers lifetime sharpening for all their ceramic knives. My advice to you is check to see what your manufacturer says about sharpening: Do they offer free professional sharpening services? What cost will you need to incur for shipping and handling? Also, you want to fully understand if there are any implications to your warranty, should you choose to have your knives sharpened by someone other than the manufacturer. Spyderco says the following “Spyderco’s warranty does not cover damage caused by abuse, misuse, loss, improper handling, alterations, accident, neglect, disassembly, or improper sharpening” (Source: Warranty & Repair).
#5 Wait…..How Exactly Were You Going To Sharpen That!?
Okay, so you’ve been wanting to sharpen a couple of blades from your pocket knife collection. These include a trailing point, tanto, sheepsfoot, and a clip point. Before doing so you ponder how exactly you’re going to approach this, and it’s at this point you come to the realization that you’re…….clueless! There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way. It’s best to admit not knowing how to do something than pretending that you do. Learning how to do things the right way requires acknowledgment that you lack the know-how to begin with. Remember, each knife is different so how you sharpen one may not necessarily be the same way you sharpen another.
Some blade types are harder to sharpen than others. I have a hard time sharpening blades with a high curvature, as well as tantos, and combination edges (plain and serrated). And because I’d rather not mess up my knife, I give it to a professional knife sharpening service who I know has experience in working these specific blade types. You really have 2 choices here: learn the right way to do it by watching tutorials on YouTube and reading up online, or pay a reputable professional. I choose the latter because I don’t want to risk my knives, and secondly I just don’t have the time to figure out all these blade types!
Professional Knife Sharpening Services: Noteworthy Mentions
Now that you know when and why you need to use a professional knife sharpening service, let’s talk about some that you should consider. Before I go any further, I just want to say I have no affiliation with any of these establishments, and if you decide to use them, I will not receive any compensation or benefit. If you have any solid recommendations, please feel free to share with us by leaving a comment!
These guys are awesome! I’ve dealt with them a couple times, and it’s always been a pleasant experience. Knifewear are based in Canada across several cities: Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Vancouver. If you are located in any of these cities, you can walk in to the store to have your knives sharpened. Knifewear will attempt to sharpen your knives while you wait. I don’t mind this at all, as I can spend hours chatting to their knowledgeable staff! They also have an extensive collection of Japanese knives, so you can peruse while you wait. They don’t use grinders and automated machines to sharpen, but instead do everything by hand using Japanese water stones. If you live outside of Canada, you can ship your knives to them by mail. Overall, these guys are passionate about what they do, and have extensive knowledge about knives and sharpening. To check them out, click here!
#2 Sharpening House (Only Vancouver Area)
A gem in the rough, that’s exactly what this is! The quality they put out is outstanding. You can expect to receive a knife capable of splitting hair! The only downside is that they only do in-store work (meaning you need to visit their store in Vancouver). Aside from knives, these guys do lawn mover blades, garden shears, and even axes. If you’re in the area, I’d strongly recommend you check them out! Click here to go to their Facebook page.
#3 Seattle Knife Sharpening
This is currently the most reputable, and trusted professional knife sharpening service available in North America today. The owner, Bob Tate is a previous student of the famous master blade-smith, Bob Kramer. To put things into perspective, Bob Kramer is the go to guy when it comes to sharpening. His videos on YouTube are watched over and over by newbies and experienced sharpeners. Bob Tate of Seattle knife sharpening has learnt well, so it’s no surprise that his company continues to be the number one choice for sharpening needs. If you’re out of town, you can ship your knives over to their location in Seattle for sharpening. The only downside with them is the turnaround time which is currently 10-14 days. It’s well worth the wait, however! To read more about them, click here.
Hopefully, This Put Things Into Perspective!
And that’s a wrap ladies and gentleman! I do hope that this post has provided you with some value, and put things into perspective. While professional knife sharpening services are becoming less popular, they’re still many reasons why you should use them over a do it yourself (DIY) sharpener. As always, read up on previous reviews and pick up the phone and consult with these guys before giving your knife to them. Many of these establishments also offer lessons on how to sharpen, so if this is something you’re interested in, why not check it out? Do you have any other suggestions/recommendations for a professional knife sharpening service? Please leave me a comment and let me know. Finally, if you enjoyed reading, a share would be appreciated!