Is it possible to sharpen knives professionally only using bench stones?

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Dec 3, 2020
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Atoma 140, many knives as long as you don't use it to flatten stones as well.

Some haze along the shoulder won't be a problem as long as edge quality is good.

Many pro and part time cash sharpeners use SiC stones, but it makes a huge difference if you're using them on a bench or with something like a tri-hone setup. Pretty sure David Martin David Martin uses a combination of Crystalon, DMT and India stones, primary customers are professional meat cutters I believe, but am not comfortable speaking for him, nor do I know exactly what his cash-work setup consists of.

As with any business, getting customers and minimizing travel and handling time is huge.
This is awesome, Thanks a bunch for all the info
 

David Martin

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It can be done with SiC stones. Having a good coarse stone is your best help. Then finish on a finer stone. I like my Tri- Hone 313 but their pricey. Stringing electric cords at shows is a real hassle. Then in a parking lot -- forget it. Yes, you need to do them a burr free job in 15 mins.. On larger 9" knives 20 mins. tops. Sure I carry different type stones but diamonds are only a finish stone. As, they wear and are expensive.
Good luck, DM
 
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Sep 24, 2002
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I don’t have those and I wouldn’t consider getting them until I’m capable of sharpening 20 knives a day with good results. As for providing assurance to a potential customer I would think dulling my knife in front of them and re sharpening to prove I’m not full of shit and going from there might work. I have no idea what pro sharpening is like and want as much info to get those realistic expectations.

As someone who has owned their own business (now retired) I like to encourage people to follow their dreams, be their own boss, and try to make a living doing what they enjoy. However, I'm not one to blow smoke up peoples backsides, and I believe that ones business model needs to be realistic. It looks to me that you are sincerely interested in learning what it takes to create a successful business, and that is encouraging.

However, I think you may have great difficulty in just getting a meeting with the owner of a restaurant. They get solicited all the time by a wide range of people. Just think how people tend to react when someone shows up on their doorstep, or calls them on the phone with unsolicited business opportunities? The typical reaction is- "No thanks, not interested", even if it's something they might have a use for. And those are the polite ones. Restaurant owners are no different. And just like the rest of the public, some restaurant owners are nice, and some are downright a-holes.

In my younger years I worked in several restaurants, washing dishes, busing tables, waiting tables, and what I remember is the owners either not being their, or being very busy. But one thing they all had in common was- they were VERY tight with money. At best most restaurants operate on a razor thin profit margin, with many just barely surviving, and that was before Covid. Trying to convince them to pay for knife sharpening could prove difficult.

Just walking in cold off the street, with no references, I'm afraid I'd be very surprised if you ever got the chance to demonstrate your sharpening skills. And to the average restaurant owner, particularly one who isn't a knife enthusiast, the idea of some total stranger offering to take out a knife in their restaurant, dull it, then sharpen it, might seem a bit odd and off-putting.

Over the years on this forum I've seen many members express an interest in making a living sharpening knives. But I've never seen one come back and say that they succeeded at it. That doesn't mean it's impossible, but again, you should expect it to be very difficult. Maybe focus on knives belonging to friends, family, and perhaps neighbors.

I wish you the best of luck.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 3, 2020
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As someone who has owned their own business (now retired) I like to encourage people to follow their dreams, be their own boss, and try to make a living doing what they enjoy. However, I'm not one to blow smoke up peoples backsides, and I believe that ones business model needs to be realistic. It looks to me that you are sincerely interested in learning what it takes to create a successful business, and that is encouraging.

However, I think you may have great difficulty in just getting a meeting with the owner of a restaurant. They get solicited all the time by a wide range of people. Just think how people tend to react when someone shows up on their doorstep, or calls them on the phone with unsolicited business opportunities? The typical reaction is- "No thanks, not interested", even if it's something they might have a use for. And those are the polite ones. Restaurant owners are no different. And just like the rest of the public, some restaurant owners are nice, and some are downright a-holes.

In my younger years I worked in several restaurants, washing dishes, busing tables, waiting tables, and what I remember is the owners either not being their, or being very busy. But one thing they all had in common was- they were VERY tight with money. At best most restaurants operate on a razor thin profit margin, with many just barely surviving, and that was before Covid. Trying to convince them to pay for knife sharpening could prove difficult.

Just walking in cold off the street, with no references, I'm afraid I'd be very surprised if you ever got the chance to demonstrate your sharpening skills. And to the average restaurant owner, particularly one who isn't a knife enthusiast, the idea of some total stranger offering to take out a knife in their restaurant, dull it, then sharpen it, might seem a bit odd and off-putting.

Over the years on this forum I've seen many members express an interest in making a living sharpening knives. But I've never seen one come back and say that they succeeded at it. That doesn't mean it's impossible, but again, you should expect it to be very difficult. Maybe focus on knives belonging to friends, family, and perhaps neighbors.

I wish you the best of luck.
Thanks for sharing your experience. This info is invaluable.
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2020
Messages
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It can be done with SiC stones. Having a good coarse stone is your best help. Then finish on a finer stone. I like my Tri- Hone 313 but pricey. Stringing electric cords at shows is a real hassle. Then in a parking lot -- forget it. Yes, you need to do them a burr free job in 15 mins.. On larger 9" knives 20 mins. tops. Sure I carry different type stones but diamonds are only a finish stone. As, they wear and are expensive.
Good luck, DM
Its awesome to hear someone doing what I’m fantasizing about. Is an apprenticeship a better idea than trying to establish my own thing?
 
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If you were a real Guru and had a name for yourself. Lived in a big city like LA,NYC. Only sharpened the finest Japanese knives. Had work for 40 knives a day at 20 minutes each. Charged $150 each. You would be rather wealthy HAHA. I am just dreaming out loud. Never mind me. I figure though you would be sharpening the knives for the Chef that sells the piece of Sushi for 5 Grand!

Seriously though, I am long since retired. I would not go back to any work for any amount of money. I really enjoy to sharpen my own knives. Plus try to interest my youngest family members. For some reason the adults could care less. Even those that carry a good knife. They use Life Sharp or whatever.
 
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Let’s say sharpening 20 kitchen knives a day was what you needed to make enough to pay the bills. And you went around to restaurants sharpening their beaters(not the expensive Japanese knives). Considering the amount of damage done to these knives (chips and broken tips) is it possible to reset the edge on these things in let’s say max 20 minutes per knife with just a coarse stone 60-120grit? I have no experience as to what condition cooks bring their knives to pros to get redone. Just looking for some insight into whether a no power equipment approach is even possible for these conditions.
I did this for over 25 years, including fine Japanese knives and made my own culinary. Rhino Custom Knives. It can be done ... I set up one of my 2 x 72” belt grinders. I’m having trouble linking this? Look up .Coote belt grinder. With a motor & a variable speed you can put one together with motor for $800-$1000 mine has run 25 years with a 1 HP motor Light weight, set it up on a hand cart & put it in my pickup. You can lower the tower until your ready & then raise it up. You’ll have to know how to sharpen all levels of knives. Where do you live? The sticks? Resort town? Big City?
When I was a kid, in the German village I grew up in this was a profession ... guys on modified bicycles, going kitchen to kitchen for knives, but also door to door to sharpen scissors.

I understand they still exist in Mexico, Italy, etc.

ScherenschleiferinRom.jpg


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Besides showing cute pictures, I suggest you think about a portable motor grinder.

A set up like these may work for you.
 
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skyhorse

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Jan 30, 2010
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It can be done with SiC stones. Having a good coarse stone is your best help. Then finish on a finer stone. I like my Tri- Hone 313 but pricey. Stringing electric cords at shows is a real hassle. Then in a parking lot -- forget it. Yes, you need to do them a burr free job in 15 mins.. On larger 9" knives 20 mins. tops. Sure I carry different type stones but diamonds are only a finish stone. As, they wear and are expensive.
Good luck, DM
My memory isn't nearly as sharp as my knives . What finishing stone were you using at the Las Cruses show David ? The edge on that Alpha folder you had that day was really nice. :thumbsup:
 
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Aug 3, 2009
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I think it's impractical to try to use a hand sharpening system professionally. The question is, why would you want to?

Brian.
 
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I think it's impractical to try to use a hand sharpening system professionally. The question is, why would you want to?

Brian.


Its all he has, and with no volume and kicking around the idea. At low enough volume and as a side hustle its doable. As a full time job you'd break down pretty fast.
 
Joined
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I did this for over 25 years, including fine Japanese knives and made my own culinary. Rhino Custom Knives. It can be done ... I set up one of my 2 x 72” belt grinders. I’m having trouble linking this? Look up .Coote belt grinder. With a motor & a variable speed you can put one together with motor for $800-$1000 mine has run 25 years with a 1 HP motor Light weight, set it up on a hand cart & put it in my pickup. You can lower the tower until your ready & then raise it up. You’ll have to know how to sharpen all levels of knives. Where do you live? The sticks? Resort town? Big City?


A set up like these may work for you.
Nice, I’ll check it out. I live in Northern California. Doing things out of a vehicle at a customers location would seem ideal and it’s awesome to hear another persons success. A year and a half prior to covid I was going to school and living in my car full time. Which may sound uncomfortable but I’m young, short, and want nothing more. Here’s my rig https://imgur.com/gallery/KkRloq4 . I figured with the lack of power outlets, power equipment might not work but then again you seem to have managed to make it work. Do you use a generator or just find an outlet?
I think it's impractical to try to use a hand sharpening system professionally. The question is, why would you want to?

Brian.

Besides enjoying hand sharpening I’m just tossing the idea out to see how feasible this pipe dream of mine is.
Its all he has, and with no volume and kicking around the idea. At low enough volume and as a side hustle its doable. As a full time job you'd break down pretty fast.
burn out is definitely on my mind. I was just thinking if the lack of living expenses might change things or make it possible.
 
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Nice, I’ll check it out. I live in Northern California. Doing things out of a vehicle at a customers location would seem ideal and it’s awesome to hear another persons success. A year and a half prior to covid I was going to school and living in my car full time. Which may sound uncomfortable but I’m young, short, and want nothing more. Here’s my rig https://imgur.com/gallery/KkRloq4 . I figured with the lack of power outlets, power equipment might not work but then again you seem to have managed to make it work. Do you use a generator or just find an outlet?


Besides enjoying hand sharpening I’m just tossing the idea out to see how feasible this pipe dream of mine is.

burn out is definitely on my mind. I was just thinking if the lack of living expenses might change things or make it possible.

It viable depending on your volume and expectations. By hand I cannot imagine it ever being a primary means of employment, either due to burnout, repetitive use issues, slow turnover. But if you get a niche, who knows?
 

000Robert

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Mar 28, 2020
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Nice, I’ll check it out. I live in Northern California. Doing things out of a vehicle at a customers location would seem ideal and it’s awesome to hear another persons success. A year and a half prior to covid I was going to school and living in my car full time. Which may sound uncomfortable but I’m young, short, and want nothing more. Here’s my rig https://imgur.com/gallery/KkRloq4 . I figured with the lack of power outlets, power equipment might not work but then again you seem to have managed to make it work. Do you use a generator or just find an outlet?


Besides enjoying hand sharpening I’m just tossing the idea out to see how feasible this pipe dream of mine is.

burn out is definitely on my mind. I was just thinking if the lack of living expenses might change things or make it possible.

Do you use blue painters tape to tape the blades to try not to scratch them up?
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2020
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It viable depending on your volume and expectations. By hand I cannot imagine it ever being a primary means of employment, either due to burnout, repetitive use issues, slow turnover. But if you get a niche, who knows?
Ya I’d imagine my elbow would get the business , I probably need to revaluate the use of power equipment.
Do you use blue painters tape to tape the blades to try not to scratch them up?
I use clear packaging tape with an edge pro but I haven’t seen people do that for freehand. Maybe I should but i don’t know.
 

000Robert

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Joined
Mar 28, 2020
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I use clear packaging tape with an edge pro but I haven’t seen people do that for freehand. Maybe I should but i don’t know.

You should use painters tape, especially on more expensive knives or you will scratch some, according to Murphy's Law.
 
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I can go from this to finished and push cutting in~45 minutes.

Most people seem to prefer toothy edges to smooth edges, so no use wasting your time sharpening more than you need to to give people edges that probably won't work as well.

After a lot of trial and error, the 60 grit Baryonyx Manticore is the best I've found for quickly hogging off metal.
 
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