Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 42

Thread: I want to start a sharpening business... Help!

  1. #1

    I want to start a sharpening business... Help!


    ADVERTISEMENT
    Hi,

    I am thinking about starting a sharpening business and would appreciate it if anyone would share their ideas or experience with me. Perhaps this has been discussed before on the forum, but I have yet to find a link.

    I am a 52 year old male and because of a disability I am restricted to getting around on a bicycle. I am located in Northwestern Arizona. To say this business would have to be started on a "shoe string" would be a gross understatement. If and when I decide to "jump in", it's going to be started on food money so it has to bring in something (anything at all) really, really quick :-)

    I ordered the booklet "How to Start a Knife Sharpening Business" from users.ameritech.net/knives/school.htm. This is the most money I have ever spent on a book (an e-booklet no less) and it was a complete waste of money. It felt like when I was a kid and ordered something real cool sounding from a gum wrapper and when I received it, it turned out to be a complete rip off. In all fairness though I don't think the book was produced by the school but by someone else.

    That being said, I still have a number of questions before heading into this business.

    1. Is Leonard Lee's "The Complete Guide to Sharpening" the best single book on the subject of sharpening? Are there any others you would recommend?

    2. Since power is an issue if I decide to go mobile with my bike, I have more or less settled on a "hand sharpened" offer, using the EdgePro products. Do you agree with approach?

    3. If I use the EdgePro I can get started quicker if I purchase the Apex because its cheaper. But the Pro Model will let me eventually do scissors. How important are scissors in a sharpening business?

    4. If I start with an Apex will I have serious issues switching to a ProModel down the line should the business work?

    5. Can sharpening customers be convinced to bring their knifes to a residential shop?

    6. What is the best way to promote a sharpening business on the basis of the limitations I have? Flyers, classified ads, swap meet, etc.

    7. How do I determine pricing?

    8. Should I consider sharpening other types of things like chain saws, garden tools, mowers, etc.

    Thanks ever so much for any comments or ideas you can provide.

    Jared

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    usa
    Posts
    6,262
    You would have to use the Internet to get enough business to make money. Local sharpening may not produce enough income. You need to learn about knives, too. Chain saws, saws, mower blades and shears will require investing in more expensive power equipment. Power equipment of some sort will probably be necessary regardless, as hand sharpening gets tiring quickly.
    Bill

  3. #3
    Bill,

    Thanks for the quick reply!

    I hope you are not right about the local market. I live in a town w/50,000+ people in it and I have to assume every single household needs their knifes sharpened :-) There doesn't seem to be anyone that I can find that is promoting this. Then again there may be a good reason for that :-(
    I have seen people set up a table outside of a store in San Diego and it seems to work for them. But this was some years ago and I did not ask them about it.

    I think there may be something to what you say about hand sharpening getting tiring. Do you have suggestions for power equipment?

    Thanks

    Jared

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Mississauga, Ontario
    Posts
    2,940
    The Apex Edge Pro seems like a great idea and your business venture was something I was thinking about a while back. Apart from putting flyers or cards in people's mailboxes, also target local bars, and restaurants for kitchen knives. You will need to take the knives away at 2.30 and have them back for 6.30. I wouldn't sharpen any knives on site.

    Although I respect Bill's opinions, I think you will have enough business locally unless you live in a tiny town or village, especially with bars and restaurants. They will need knives sharpened every months, or at least re-ground every 6 months. I had my own Inn in England and ground my knives every 4 to 6 months.

    Scissor sharpening is fairly specialised, but how many hairdressers do you have near you? How many housewifes with dressmaking, kitchen and nail scissors?

    Garden tools are easy, you just need a good quality fine file. Cylinder mowers are fairly easy, rotary mowers are dead easy.

    Saws, you need a saw-set plier tool and a diamond file

    Chainsaws, you need a tool that sits on the chain and a diamond chainsaw file. I would forget this as a chainsaw service usually includes cleaning, sharpening and tensioning. If a chain snaps after you have worked on it, you better have good insurance!

    We charge $5.00 CDN for sharpening a knife.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    usa
    Posts
    6,262
    There are grit wheels available for bench grinders, and inexpensive stationary belt sanders.
    Bill

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Mississauga, Ontario
    Posts
    2,940
    Quote Originally Posted by jared01 View Post
    Bill,

    I think there may be something to what you say about hand sharpening getting tiring. Do you have suggestions for power equipment?

    Thanks

    Jared
    4" belt sander with a very worn 220 grit belt, then a hard paper honing wheel with green polishing compound, and a bit of skill. Shaving sharp every time.

  7. #7
    Andrew,
    Thanks for the good ideas and suggestions. There are a bunch of restaurants, etc in town. This sounds like a great place to start and it is probably doable, even on a bike. Pick it up, take it home, sharpen and drop off.
    I was thinking about giving some free sharpening (say one in three) to some of the local butchers in trade for them pushing business my way.

    Thanks
    Jared

  8. #8
    Bill,
    I have read about these alternatives here in the forum and they sound like a good idea. The reason I favor the EdgePro products is they have a training DVD and there is a good deal of support here and with EdgePro. There is going to be an initial learning curve and I am not sure but I think it may be easier to learn the edgepro system. Would the grinder and belt sander systems be covered in that book I mentioned?

    Thanks

    Jared

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Mississauga, Ontario
    Posts
    2,940
    Quote Originally Posted by jared01 View Post
    Andrew,

    I was thinking about giving some free sharpening (say one in three) to some of the local butchers in trade for them pushing business my way.

    Thanks
    Jared
    I would go to the chefs and offer to sharpen the first one FOC so they could see your work. go back 2 days later before the blade dulls and ask for more knives to sharpen. At the first hotel kitchen I worked at, the knives were collected 10 at a time every two weeks. There weren't many knives that actually went every single fortnight, except perhaps fish filleting knives. normal knives went back every 4 or 8 weeks depending on use and abuse.

    I purposely didn't mention butchers as you will almost certainly find that they already have a sharpening service or they do it themselves. Their knives need to be razor sharp all the time, more than any other trade.

    Any shops that sell wet fish? Any supermarkets with a fresh fish display? Fish and chip shops, cafe's. Then there are tailors, dressmakers, and bridal shops. The list is endless, just have a scan through the index page of Yellow Pages for any trade that uses a blade or scissors.

  10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hKXQHGwzAw

    you can see what this guy uses, and get some off-kilter advice on sharpening and steeling as well

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Taylor View Post
    I would go to the chefs and offer to sharpen the first one FOC so they could see your work. go back 2 days later before the blade dulls and ask for more knives to sharpen. At the first hotel kitchen I worked at, the knives were collected 10 at a time every two weeks. There weren't many knives that actually went every single fortnight, except perhaps fish filleting knives. normal knives went back every 4 or 8 weeks depending on use and abuse.

    I purposely didn't mention butchers as you will almost certainly find that they already have a sharpening service or they do it themselves. Their knives need to be razor sharp all the time, more than any other trade.

    Any shops that sell wet fish? Any supermarkets with a fresh fish display? Fish and chip shops, cafe's. Then there are tailors, dressmakers, and bridal shops. The list is endless, just have a scan through the index page of Yellow Pages for any trade that uses a blade or scissors.
    Andrew,
    Outstanding suggestions all! Thanks!
    Jared

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by hardheart View Post
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hKXQHGwzAw

    you can see what this guy uses, and get some off-kilter advice on sharpening and steeling as well
    Awesome, Thanks. I see there are some other sharpening vids also. This should keep me busy for a while. Gotta love that youtube

    Jared

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Location
    South of Minnetonka, MN USA
    Posts
    6,076
    I have run a business like this before. I would not use any of the manual "sharpening systems" since they just do not remove enough material fast enough. My primary sharpening system would be a belt sander with grits in the 120 to 400 grit range. My finish sharpening tool would be a basic V-rod ceramic sharpener. If I had to do manual sharpening on-site I would get a basic 2-sided 220/1000 grit Norton waterstone for rough sharpening as an alternative to the belt sander. This needs to be about 8 inches long to work efficiently.

    For a belt sander look at:
    www.homedepot.com search for item number 100067979

    For a sale on a Norton waterstone:
    http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx...fcode=05INFROO

    For an economical V-rod sharpener:
    http://www.kendelcutlery.com/sharpen...teels-617.html

    I used a two-tier pricing system to encourage customers to let me take knives home to sharpen. When I did this back 35 years ago my rate for kitchen knives was 10-cents per blade-inch for work done at the customer's and 5-cents an inch for work taken back to my shop. Nowadays I would charge more like 80-cents an inch for work done on site and 50-cents an inch for knives sharpened in the shop. Manually sharpening a really dull 10-inch kitchen knife can easily take half an hour. At 80-cents an inch that would allow earning $16.00 an hour manually sharpening. You would probably make more than $24.00 an hour sharpening with the belt sander and rods in the shop.

    The real problem is finding the volume of business to keep you busy. When I did this business it was in the more affluent end of Pasadena California. The city had about an 80,000 population. I could go door to door soliciting business and handing out business cards. I had my best results in the older wealthy areas where customers owned expensive knives and were willing to pay more to have them sharpened than it would cost to buy a new cheap knife. You need to find custmers who own premium knives and appreciate them. You need people who don't believe in disposable tools. If you are not in an affluent town you will have to go to restaurants and meat cutters to find people who really value their knives. Before investing too much in this idea you need to find out if those customers already have a sharpening service they use.

    One of the better parts of the business is actually sharpening scissors. You can sharpen scissors with a small smooth file. The problem is in adjusting scissors. It takes a special tool to work the screws and another tool to safely bend the blades for optimum tension. I faked it with home made tools, but it was hard. I found more women who were willing to have their good scissors sharpened than their kitchen knives. You need to look for scissor pliers to adjust the screws:
    http://bonika.stores.yahoo.net/scissorpliers.html

    I mostly just adjusted the screws and sharpened the blades.

    PS. It is bad form to scratch the sides of your customer's knives. When you are sharpening manually it is easy to slip and scratch up the knife finish. Until you get a lot of experience it helps to put masking tape on the sides of the blades before you start sharpening. You just need to leave the area close to the edge exposed so that you can hone.

    Another trick is to do a little stropping on your knife edges at the end of the honing process. Find a rock shop and buy some 1 micron grit aluminum oxide polishing compound and put it on an old smooth leather belt. After you finish honing do a half dozen very light stropping strokes on the abrasive loaded belt.
    Last edited by Jeff Clark; 01-23-2007 at 12:21 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    usa
    Posts
    6,262
    Jared
    All sharpening is the same, whether hand or mechanical. I suggest you learn first the basics, and then decide if you want to go further with this endeavor.
    Bill

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Clark View Post
    I have run a business like this before. I would not use any of the manual "sharpening systems" since they just do not remove enough material fast enough. My primary sharpening system would be a belt sander with grits in the 120 to 400 grit range.
    <snip>
    Another trick is to do a little stropping on your knife edges at the end of the honing process. Find a rock shop and buy some 1 micron grit aluminum oxide polishing compound and put it on an old smooth leather belt. After you finish honing do a half dozen very light stropping strokes on the abrasive loaded belt.
    Wow, that's an awesome presentation! Thanks for taking the time an effort to put that together. I will be checking into everything you've said. Thanks.

    Jared

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Clark View Post

    When I did this business it was in the more affluent end of Pasadena California. The city had about an 80,000 population.
    Gee, maybe I've met you. I lived in the Linda Vista Hills, round about that time :-)

    Jared

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill DeShivs View Post
    Jared
    All sharpening is the same, whether hand or mechanical. I suggest you learn first the basics, and then decide if you want to go further with this endeavor.
    Bill
    Bill,
    Of course you are correct. I have been sharpening knifes by hand for about 40 years. While I was better then people who couldn't sharpen at all, I have never really been very good at it. Although I have always enjoyed it. On top of which I have a real passion for knifes, especially old ones :-) Since I have been reading the forum here I have gotten excited about really learning how to sharpen something really well and correctly. I'm drawn to hand sharpening because it can have a "zen" like like effect, which appeals to me.

    I was inspired to do something in conjunction with my bike by this photo I ran accross while researching a very old African knife I have.

    http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p..._sharpener.jpg

    And then this one of Mexico.

    http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p...e/knife200.jpg

    There is a real possibility that in the future I may even make an extended stay in a decidedly less developed country and it would be great to have something to contribute to the local economy. Sharpening things is a universally needed skill :-)

    I don't have any extra money so I can approach this project slowly if need be. I would like to have more confidence and real skill in sharpening before I hold my self out as a "professional".

    Do you have suggestions how I might learn genuine professional level sharpening?

    My plan was to get Leonard Lee's book, read it and start practicing. I was also thinking that buying the apex kit with the dvd would be very helpful as I would be learning on the tool I intended to use.

    Jared

  18. #18
    Jared,

    I can't answer all your questions, but I'll take a stab at a few.

    1. If you have no experience with sharpening, I would recommend the "Razor Edge Book of Sharpening", by Juranitch. It's somewhat related to their products, but it gives a good grounding in understanding what makes a knife sharp. Lee's book is good, and very detailed, but it might be more than what you want or need right now, and a lot of it applies to sharpening wood working tools.
    2. I do agree that you can base a knife sharpening business on the Edge Pro. That was the reason behind the creation. I use an Edge Pro for the majority of my sharpening. Read the info on Edge Pro's website, and contact Ben Dale, the inventor, directly and talk to him. Explain your situation, and he will be up front with you on whether or not it will work in your case.
    3-4. You could start with an Apex, and switch to the Pro model, they both work basically the same. But, there are other advantages to the Pro model besides the scissors attachment, that I personally would recommend, that if you could somehow manage to get the Pro, for a sharpening business you would be a lot better off. The Pro unit itself is a bit larger, more stable, and you can adjust it a bit for comfort. The stone change method is quicker and easier on the Pro, which in a business, matters because you'll change them a lot. The design of the arm is a bit different so that you can use more of the stone. There are other advantages that Ben will explain to you... so try for the Pro if you can.
    5. I run my business from my house. I think it matters where you're located, if it will work. My house is not convenient to get to, so I get some interest but not a lot show up. For me it's just a part time venture, so not a big concern at this point. But to increase business, I think I'd have to find a better location, or go mobile.
    6,7,8 - I think just depend on where you live, and the investment you want to make.

    One other thing you may consider, if it's available... I haven't tried it, but have heard of others who've had success, is setting up at flea markets, farmer markets etc. There's a guy on another forum, that I think sets up at a Sporting Goods or Hardware store, with just an Edge Pro, and according to him, he got so much business he retired early from his other job.

    cbw

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by cbwx34 View Post
    Jared,

    I can't answer all your questions, but I'll take a stab at a few.

    1. If you have no experience with sharpening, I would recommend the "Razor Edge Book of Sharpening", by Juranitch. It's somewhat related to their products, but it gives a good grounding in understanding what makes a knife sharp. Lee's book is good, and very detailed, but it might be more than what you want or need right now, and a lot of it applies to sharpening wood working tools.
    2. I do agree that you can base a knife sharpening business on the Edge Pro. That was the reason behind the creation. I use an Edge Pro for the majority of my sharpening. Read the info on Edge Pro's website, and contact Ben Dale, the inventor, directly and talk to him. Explain your situation, and he will be up front with you on whether or not it will work in your case.
    3-4. You could start with an Apex, and switch to the Pro model, they both work basically the same. But, there are other advantages to the Pro model besides the scissors attachment, that I personally would recommend, that if you could somehow manage to get the Pro, for a sharpening business you would be a lot better off. The Pro unit itself is a bit larger, more stable, and you can adjust it a bit for comfort. The stone change method is quicker and easier on the Pro, which in a business, matters because you'll change them a lot. The design of the arm is a bit different so that you can use more of the stone. There are other advantages that Ben will explain to you... so try for the Pro if you can.
    5. I run my business from my house. I think it matters where you're located, if it will work. My house is not convenient to get to, so I get some interest but not a lot show up. For me it's just a part time venture, so not a big concern at this point. But to increase business, I think I'd have to find a better location, or go mobile.
    6,7,8 - I think just depend on where you live, and the investment you want to make.

    One other thing you may consider, if it's available... I haven't tried it, but have heard of others who've had success, is setting up at flea markets, farmer markets etc. There's a guy on another forum, that I think sets up at a Sporting Goods or Hardware store, with just an Edge Pro, and according to him, he got so much business he retired early from his other job.

    cbw
    cbw,

    I thank you for your thorough and well written reply. I especially appreciate hearing about your experience running a part time business from your home.

    I look forward to contacting Ben at EdgePro when I am a bit closer to becoming a paying customer :-)

    Also thanks for your insights using the EdgePro, this is very helpful.

    Jared

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    usa
    Posts
    6,262
    While the Edgepro may be a useful tool in a sharpening business, I think the results will be too slow to make money. I can sharpen freehand about as well as anyone, but doubt I could produce enough work to survive without some power assisted sharpening devices. In business time= money.
    There are the old hand-cranked sharpening devices. If you could find one, perhaps it could be modified with mor modern abrasives.
    Bill

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •