Last updated 10.09.19 – If you decide to use a professional sharpening service, it is important to do your homework. Because there are many companies that pay similar prices, but do not always offer comparable quality. Remember the time when you made copies of the key to the front door, and although all the key shears were on the right track, you made the first lousy key, and the second was unbelievable. The same applies to professional grinding services. And although the cost of a premium (especially for sharpening Japanese knives) certainly gives you access to a higher level of knowledge, in the iron shell and in itself, it is not a guarantee. It is best to be well informed about where you are going to send your knives, about the sharpening process in general and about your knives.
Bob Kramer 8 Carbon Steel Twin J.A. Henckels
This is the knife I would like to buy now. Bob Kramer, the famous American knife manufacturer, has made a knife with Henkels that uses the same fine steel as handmade knives. Except that instead of queuing to buy in the lottery or at an auction for thousands of dollars, you can buy it for a few hundred at any time. Oh, he doesn’t have a nice patterned damask steel, but he cuts it like a banshee and puts it in your hand like a schoolgirl. Can you say I’m in love?
What can go wrong
While a first-class professional tailor is the chef’s best friend, a second-rate tailor is his natural enemy. So a lower sharpener can sabotage a knife. That’s possible:
1) Not grinding finely enough Yes. It’s a small potato compared to the others.
2) Uneven sharpening This will a) prevent your knife from working at the optimum height and b) unnecessarily need extra sharpening to secure it.
3) Grinding more than necessary, reducing blade life. (Every time you grind the metal, you remove the metal from the knife)
4) Grinding too hot so that the edge is loose and damaged. Steel is constantly damaged and loses its ability to stay sharp. It’s time to buy a new knife!
Do you want me to tell you more? Please do your homework. (Better yet, take a look at my ratings from the Professional Knife Sharpening Service).
PUMP AND SPECIAL EARTH The three cook’s knives at the bottom have different degrees of wear, from the smallest to the largest (top to bottom). The blades, if new, would have approximately the same shape and height/width. But now you can see that the knife is much higher/breaker from the top and has a larger curve towards the edge. The other two are narrower and have a flattened point curve. More prominent in the lower part of the leaf, in the last third when approaching the tip.
Knowing your knife
It is very important to understand the style of the knife before sharpening it. It can 1) save you from wasting time (and money) on unqualified grinding services, and 2) give you more options when it comes to grinding. Here’s a brief overview:
Nowadays there are mainly two different kinds of kitchen knives: German (also known as Western) or Japanese knives. There are also many mixtures of these two styles in models that can be called hybrids. Although each of these two basic models has its own characteristic shapes and sizes, the most fundamental difference between the two is the steel from which they are made.
…if you’re sending a Japanese or hybrid to sharpen a knife, it’s advisable to make sure the service has experience sharpening such a knife.
The German style blades are thicker and made of softer but stronger steel. Traditionally they have to be ground at a wider angle (20-22 degrees). The Japanese looking knives are thinner and made of harder but fragile steel. This allows them to be sharpened at a steeper angle (11-15 degrees). The hybrids generally have the fineness and sharpness of a Japanese leaf, but the shape is German, and they are usually sharpened under a more pronounced Japanese angle. (See my article Knives 101.) In addition, some Japanese knives are only cut on one side (such as a wood chisel) and have some asymmetrical bevel edges, which requires a strictly individual approach to sharpening. (Probably, if you don’t already know, you don’t have one of those knives.) So don’t worry.)
Despite the fact that Japanese style knives are all objects of anger and anger that grow like mushrooms, the vast majority of knives that people possess are still German style knives. This is the status quo (at least in the West). For example, the vast majority of knives processed by the grinding services are also produced in Germany. This means that if you send a Japanese or hybrid for sharpening, it is reasonable to ensure that the service has experience in sharpening such a knife. It is best that they are familiar with the brand you want to send them. This shouldn’t be a problem in any case. Most of the services in which I participated were open to questions asked by phone or e-mail. But don’t forget that there are unscrupulous characters who claim they can sharpen anything. The last thing you want to do is send your individual Gioroto from the city of Seki (Japan).
, WHAT’S YOUR KNIFE?. Henkels and Wusthof are two major German knife manufacturers, while some of the most important Japanese brands are Global, Shun, Masahiro, MAC, Tojiro and Kasumi. Most of these manufacturers produce or are hybrids (e.g. Global). Most French, English and American knives are of the German type (although this is changing). For more information about the six major brands, see The Best Chef’s Knives – Six Recommendations.
Twin J.A. Henckels Pro S filter knife, 7″
PURCHASE IN THE Amazon
For those of you who deal in fish fillets, you must have the appropriate equipment. If you scrape without a special threaded knife, or if your old knife is not suitable, you should take a look at this Henckels Pro S model. It is thin but strong and should last a lifetime. (If you are careful, you can also use it to expose the chicken)
Milling and grinding machines
The sharpening service collects, crushes and massages the blades about once a week. . .
Another important point to take into account when deciding to grind is the difference between a commercial grinding service and a professional cutting tool. The former is mainly used by butchers, fishmongers and super-commercial kitchens (also called Wendy’s, Applebees, Red Lobster, etc.) who tend to use fairly cheap disposable knives. The sharpening department collects the knives about once a week, grinds, massages and often even delivers them. Highly industrial, highly standardized and efficient. The second (professional boat) is mainly used by restaurant chefs and consumers and is designed to work with high quality cutlery with delicate knives. More care, more quality. Guess which one you want.
Not to be confused, but some grinding services do both kinds of things. If this is the case for the service you are considering, this may be fine, but be careful. Try asking them a few questions from the list I gave at the end of this article. If they start to annoy you or if they just don’t respond (if you do so by email or otherwise), they’re probably 1) less good at customer service than you’d like, or 2) less good at customer service. In my book, the two negatives. If there’s no other convincing argument to keep them on the run like they’re on the street, or if one of your greedy friends brags about it, I’ll go look somewhere else.
If you take the knives with you to sharpen them, they will probably be sharpened on a mechanical system. Today, the standard procedure for scissors is the use of a belt sander in combination with a grinding wheel. Another common method is a water-cooled alumina wheel (which rotates at low speed). Depending on the condition of the knife or its operation, the knife may pass through different abrasive grit sizes (150 to 600) before it is finished or grinded/polished. (Picture on the right: Typical belt sander with grinding wheel).
If you have a traditional Japanese or a Japanese hybrid, you have another way to grind it – the Japanese waterstone system. Japanese knives are traditionally sharpened on these stones, which resemble Western stones, but are much finer and softer and have an incredibly wide range of grains from 500 (natural) to 10,000 (super fine for sharpening). Japanese professional grinders generally use a powerful water stone wheel that rotates at low speed and immerses the stone in the water as it rotates (horizontally). Then they can put the finishing touches to an ordinary waterstone. If you own a traditional Japanese knife, this may be the smartest way to sharpen it properly while maintaining the integrity of the knife.
There are a number of first-class grinding services that offer water stone grinding by post. To be honest, this is a little outside my field of expertise, especially since I don’t currently own any traditional Japanese knives. Due to my extensive research, however, I know of at least three first-class services that I can recommend. (See end of Reviews … . Sharpening services.]
Man on machine
My experience shows that the most important factor in making a sharp knife is the experience and dedication of the person sharpening it.
My experience shows that the most important factor in making a sharp knife is the experience and dedication of the person sharpening it. For now, the equipment can only go with you, and the material needed to sharpen the knife doesn’t necessarily have to cost thousands of dollars. You can get it for a few hundred. What you can’t buy is the skill and passion for the work of a tailor. So that’s what you want to look for when you find a pocket knife.
Moreover, professional grinders and their customers have very different levels of perception, approach and refinement. A rim that works well for a chef at Applebees may not be suitable for a sashimi chef at Japonica. Or an experienced home caterer with gioto Murray Carter can be much more demanding than your young mother with Wusthof Classic and a million other things that can be interesting. Thus, while there are many viable grinding services that promote their products, there is no single solution. Look for a high quality outfit. Find the right one. (And don’t forget to refer to page Feedback on Professional Knife Sharpening Services for serious recommendations).
Interview suggested questions
Below is a list of questions that may be useful when interviewing potential knife sharpeners. Choose the one that suits you best.
- How long have you been sharpening? How did you get in? How were you trained?
- Who’s really sharpening it? How big is the team? How’s his education?
- Describe the process of sharpening the 8-inch knife with your system. Which machines/equipment do you use?
- Are there any problems you might encounter?
- What if the edge needs to be completely re-profiled?
- How long does it take on average? What’s your typical rebound?
- Do you all sharpen your knives the same way? Or do you adapt to the style of the knife? Or the condition of the knife?
- Do you put a straight edge on the knife or do you make a second angle? Convex? Anything else?
- Do you make knives the Japanese way? What brands do you know? Did you work on the knives?
- How do you advise the customer to operate the sharp knife? Why do you recommend it?
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