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about going commercial

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Grizz299, Sep 15, 2018.

  1. Grizz299


    Feb 15, 2018
    I'm retired, bought a bunch of very nice Arky';s and set about sharpening my own Wusthof's , all my friends and providing a service for a few of my favorite restaurants. enjoyable.
    I could use some extra income.
    Live in a rural area with about five small cities within an hours drive and, of course, lots of small hamletss along the way.
    I figure 10 knives a day for five days a week, av. $10.00 -12.00 ea. gives me 25 K a year (before pick up and del.) and that's all I need.
    Questions: Understanding how imprecise an answer necessarily must be...How much sales do you figure to raise sales of ten knives a day.?? even rough estimates appreciated from anyone who has played this tune.
    The arky's obviously aren't going to work for any volume, so what system should I be looking at...Belt sanders? A tomek or other grinder? What other grinder? Paper wheels, a system?
    How long should ten knives a day take on say the Tomek and isn't there another of the wet grinders that does the job? (I've seen the Grizzley and don't think that's the answer) If the T8 is the best alternative, then the $800.00 is not a bad choice, or is it?
    Any input appreciated...
  2. bgentry


    Aug 3, 2009
    I've never done knife work commercially. I've researched it a little and I think your figures are off pretty far. The national average for doing a blade seems to be around $5 for a full sized kitchen knife. $1 per inch is one standard, but a lot of people seem to think that price is too high.

    There are more specialized sharpeners that charge a good bit more. I think "Old Navy" (a retired guy with a knife sharpening business) is on this forum. He does kitchen knives by hand on Japanese waterstones. As such, his customers expect a high standard and are ok with his much higher (than $5) price. But he's specialized. If you are banging out Dexter Russell or similar "NSF" stamped blades with plastic handles, the owners won't want to pay much to have them sharpened.

    As far as I know a medium sized belt sander is the industry standard for this type of work.

    razor-edge-knives likes this.
  3. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I do some sharpening for money, 5 bucks for most blades if they are part of a set or bundle.

    Extra $7 for serrations. If its a high end knife (approx 200 or more retail) the price goes up to $15 if the edge is to be reset, otherwise 5 bucks. If a bright finish is spec'd that's $15.

    If its a single blade mail order I charge $10 to cover my trip to the PO.

    I use a combination of belt grinder and benchstones.
  4. Bazzle


    Dec 17, 2013
    My suggestion would be getting tormek jigs to fit the cheaper grizzly option, or Tormek all the way if you prefer. It is quicker than free hand and hard to mess up. I charge $6-8 for most knives using a belt grinder. $10-15 for major blade repair or some Japanese and sashimi knives.
    A couple of other business in my area charge $3 per blade.
  5. l1ranger

    l1ranger Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 27, 2017
    i dont sharpen commercially, but do a few knives for friends throughout the year.
    have discussed with some of them, just for times like this.

    Most aren't willing to pay more than 3 to 5 bucks for sharpening a 'regular' knife - considering most of those knives probably don't cost more than 30 to 50 bucks - i can see the logic there.
  6. Spideyjg


    Nov 7, 2017
    I use Tormek and belts for sheer volume. The Tormek is a single grit but with belts change grits in seconds.

    Thanksgiving is coming and during the run up demand gets off the charts.

    Be prepared to address every knife issue under the sun. Bolster reductions, thinning the blade, broken tips, loose handles etc. yOu will also see butterknife dull blades pretty often.

  7. drail


    Feb 23, 2008
    I tried starting up a sharpening business some years ago only to discover that almost every resturant in town believed that when their knives got dull they should just toss them and buy new ones. And they did. They had been doing this for many years. Their theory was to buy cheap knives and toss them when they become dull. When I introduced myself and offered my services they looked at me with disbelief - you could see them thinking "why on Earth would you resharpen a knife instead of simply replacing it?" The only customers I could keep were professional chefs who had invested in expensive knives and they were very reluctant to trust anyone else to touch them. After sharpening a few of their cheaper knives for free they allowed me to hone their good ones and they were very pleased. The other "problem" I discovered was when you give the average kitchen employee a nice sharp knife they will cut themselves seriously within 1 minute or less. So now they have a bandaged hand trying to do food prep. and get sent home when a manager sees them bleeding on the food. I would warn them repeatedly and even throw in free Band-aids just to make them think - and they would still slice and dice their fingers. I lost several accounts when the management suddenly decided they did not want any more sharp knives because their employees could not deal with them. They decided dull knives were "safer". I had one client who had employees so dumb one night they needed to get into a drawer that somehow got locked - so they took one of his big Wusthof chef knives and tried to pry the drawer open. Broke an inch off the tip. He was kinda pissed and now keeps "his" knives locked up. I ground it into a nice Nakiri and he loved it. We live in a world today where most folks really believe everything is "disposable". If you get into the sharpening business you will see and hear things you could never have imagined from dumb people.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
    Eli Chaps and Dangerously like this.
  8. bgentry


    Aug 3, 2009
    That's a point I forgot to make about restaurants:

    You're right that a certain number of restaurants don't ever sharpen blades and their employees are used to this. It's really weird. I've sharpened knives for one like this that was happy with my work, but I did it for free because I like the place and wanted the practice.

    Several other restaurants I talked to have a "knife service". No, not a knife *sharpening* service. A knife service. Here's how it works: The service rents you knives. They bring you a full set of knives to use in your kitchen based on what you tell them. You pay based on how many knives you want. Then about a month later, they show up with freshly sharpened knives and take back all of the dull ones. They keep repeating this over and over as long as you pay.

    It's an interesting business model, but it's too bad that this model cuts out independent knife sharpeners altogether. The knife renting business is also the knife sharpening business.

    Eli Chaps likes this.
  9. drail


    Feb 23, 2008
    Yeah, I ran into that problem too. Unfortunately I was not willing to invest in the overhead costs of having complete sets of knives for different restuarants. I was amazed at the number of places (mostly small cafes) that would simply send someone to Walmart to buy new knives. There was one place where I really loved their food so I would go in there and sit at a table in the back before closing and sharpen their knives for free.

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