Thinking of a small knife sharpening business

Joined
Oct 15, 2007
Messages
297
I want to revive this thread as I'm in the same boat as the O.P.

Sadly, the price on the shop-sharp is not completely out of line if you spend some time researching other "commercial" type system. The Tormek T-7 will run about $700

Anybody who's used the Tormek have any input on the speed? The only real complaints I've ran across on the whole 'net are the price and that it's not *as* fast as a belt. (The plus is the precision and the near impossibility to blue an edge.) I've also heard some chef's do NOT want a belt touching their knives. Don't know how common this is but I imagine it only takes once for a chef to be very picky on that topic. The Tormek, like the edgepro, can do straight-bevel scissors. The high-end scissors take high-end equipment. The $500 dollar machine someone mentioned will not do convex shears. You need to triple or quadruple that number to get into convex equipment.

The paper wheels...what speed are people running them 1725/3450? Any useful jigs? I know Tormek sells just their bar/jig mounting setup to fit a benchgrinder. There's at least $300 by the time you buy a decent grinder, the wheels, the mount, the bar, and one or two jigs.

As you can see, there's a ton of questions to answer to please keep leaving comments/suggestions.
 
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Jun 7, 2009
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I tried to start a sharpening business last summer. It was very difficult to get customers. My prices were pretty low, IMO. I was charging $3 - $10 , depending on the knife. I also offered to do re-grinds for free. Very little response. I advertised on the internet and community newspaper. I will try again this summer , and I will expand my advertising. I have about $600 worth of DMT and other stones , a 1 by 30 belt sander with a lot of different belts, will be getting a bigger sander soon ( 2 by 42 .) I also have a McGowan unit that does a pretty darn good job at hollow grinds.
The average person either doesn't care about sharp knives, or doesn't want to pay more than a couple of bucks, I found out. A previous poster stated that kitchen knives would be a large part of the work. Easy sharpening in my opinion , but like I said earlier, people don't want to pay more than a couple of bucks, so volume is the key to making any kind of pocketable money. I have a friend that owns a full time sharpening business, and the bulk of his work is woodworking saw blades , requiring specialized machinery, not available here. Knives are what I am interested in doing, and I think with my gear, I could do pretty well, if I exposed myself better. Interesting thread indeed.
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2007
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355
I checked the site with the Sharpshop belt sander---pretty crude for $400 bucks!

It's hard to tell. It looks like a custom-made set up. The website doesn't give enough information about the system itself - type of motor, how well engineered the system is etc. If it's properly done, the price is not out of line.
 
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May 7, 2008
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The Ultimate Sharpener from Chipping Away is about $200. It is a 1' X 42" belt sander that runs away from you & at a slower RPM than a comparable belt sander. It seems to be very highly rated & there is an angle guide that mounts on the platen available for it. At half the cost it would seem like the better buy.
 
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Aug 26, 2006
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I have offered sharpening services, mostly online, in the past using my 1x30 Harbor Freight belt sander (I recommend getting a slightly higher-end grinder, after having the HF that doesn't have very good fit and finish). I've used both the Lee Valley blue belts as well as others, just find what works for you. The blue belts work really well for heavy grinding, an 80 grit will take out most dings in kitchen and other knives in a couple of passes, and then it's only another 60 seconds or so to bring the bevel up to a mirror polish.

I saw a setup once on a television show that is essentially a portable version of my home setup:
It was a belt sander used to set the bevel and polish it to a degree. There was also a bench grinder with what appeared to be buffing wheels (I use a kind of paper wheel). This was contained in a smallish panel van, and could go wherever there were roads. The man that operated the machinery went around to different restaurants and private residences and offered his services.

Good luck!
 
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Dec 18, 2009
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This is my first post here, I'm relatively new to the forum but not to knives or sharpening. I've carried and used hunters, folders, and kitchen knives (including some Japanese forged) for about 40 years and sharpened them myself, feeling that a dull knife had no chance of living up to it's potential. I've freehanded and used guided systems with just about every type of abrasive stone.
A few years back, I bought an old Loray powered belt system and it's been my primary sharpening machine for my knives and the knives of my friends ever since. Loray was the originator of the clamp/rod type guided systems. Gene's Sharp Shop machine looks to be very similar to my old Loray machine except mine is all attached to a metal framework. it has the same spring loaded tensioner and blade table. It makes sharpening really easy and fast. I use 30" SIC belts and leather belts on mine.

Fred
 
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
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504
700!! Holy jesus.

Im sure you already considered these, but why not get a 2x72 and some paper wheels for less?

Good luck!
 

lmleck

When the going gets tough, the dumb get dumber !!!
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Dec 8, 2007
Messages
14,059
Should you begin to sharpen scissors and knives, you will be asked to sharpen clipper blades. Pet groomers are a main source of revenue for this. many barbers still send their clipper blades out.
This link is only an example, not necessarily a recommendation.
http://www.extremekut.com/
 

cj65

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Joined
Aug 30, 2008
Messages
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The paper wheels "Razor Sharp" brand are under 50 if I recall, and a low end bench grinder 3500 rpm only can be bought on sale quite often for under 50. I use 3500, but would prefer 1750 rpm. The paper wheels are very light, hence the paper part, and grinders are engineered for spinning stones, so even a cheap grinder motor is an overkill to power the paper wheels. I do not need a jig for the paper wheels, and my hand quivers more than Katherine Hepburn's head.


I want to revive this thread as I'm in the same boat as the O.P.

Sadly, the price on the shop-sharp is not completely out of line if you spend some time researching other "commercial" type system. The Tormek T-7 will run about $700

Anybody who's used the Tormek have any input on the speed? The only real complaints I've ran across on the whole 'net are the price and that it's not *as* fast as a belt. (The plus is the precision and the near impossibility to blue an edge.) I've also heard some chef's do NOT want a belt touching their knives. Don't know how common this is but I imagine it only takes once for a chef to be very picky on that topic. The Tormek, like the edgepro, can do straight-bevel scissors. The high-end scissors take high-end equipment. The $500 dollar machine someone mentioned will not do convex shears. You need to triple or quadruple that number to get into convex equipment.

The paper wheels...what speed are people running them 1725/3450? Any useful jigs? I know Tormek sells just their bar/jig mounting setup to fit a benchgrinder. There's at least $300 by the time you buy a decent grinder, the wheels, the mount, the bar, and one or two jigs.

As you can see, there's a ton of questions to answer to please keep leaving comments/suggestions.
 

Old CW4

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Sep 8, 2006
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870
How about starting the sharpening business in a small van similar to a 'roach coach?' Put your logo on the sides and tinkle a small bell or something along residential streets, at strip malls, and visit your local restaurants with your sharpening equipment ready and waiting outside for really fast service. Might be good to also have the equipment to sharpen mower blades, chain saws, etc. Most home owners are pretty slip-shod about taking care of such tools.
 
Joined
Jan 12, 2010
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51
Hi there,
Im in victoria australia and sharpen on the side. I charge $5.00 per blade and sharpen on jap water stones. Good edge shaving when finished. Takes about 15 minute to reset bevel and go through stone set. works out about $20. per hour. Not bad. What started small is growing to about 50 knives per week ! I now do local vegi shops, restarants and home stuff. All dropped off and picked up at same point. Great work in between making custom stuff. good luck mate.
 
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Jan 28, 2010
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I take my Sharp Shop Machine to motorcycle rallies, swap meets, farmer's markets, festivals, and other events with a large number of people. $1 per inch, with a $3 minimum. I demonstrate how sharp each blade is when I'm done. This usually gathers a crowd. I usually don't get the high dollar knives until the end of the day, after they have watched me sharpen consistantly all day. I usually make $300-500 in a weekend just sharpening. I also sell assorted knives. My next venture will be to schedule will some of the gated communities to be at their clubhouse/main office on a regular basis( one day every month or two) based on customer requests. I can sharpen most non-serrated blades with my machine. I offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. So far, I have never had a return, just more business & referrals. I carry a hand grinder & a dremel, just in case, but use my machine 99% of the time. I am presently testing some accessories that we will be offering to sharpeners that have owned their machine for at least 6 months, or those that I personally train. The basic machine does a wonderful job, but the new accessories just makes things sweeter. Only problem I've found is an inexperienced sharpener can ruin a blade if they don't reduce the blade pressure to the belt. I learned my lesson the first time. If anyone has any questions about The Sharp Shop Machine, please ask and I will do my best to answer. An suggestions for improvement will also be considered.
 

db

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Oct 3, 1998
Messages
3,762
Good to see that your first two posts are hawking your machine. You may want to become a paying member on this site beforeanymore posts about what you sell. Good luck.
 
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Feb 4, 2010
Messages
18
Should you begin to sharpen scissors and knives, you will be asked to sharpen clipper blades. Pet groomers are a main source of revenue for this. many barbers still send their clipper blades out.
This link is only an example, not necessarily a recommendation.
http://www.extremekut.com/

I agree a friend is a groomer and the Sharpening guy does several of his blades at a time.
 

gga357

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Dec 3, 2007
Messages
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For those of you who use a machine what grits do you use most? Are the 15u and 1200x needed?
 
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Jul 16, 2007
Messages
765
The average person either doesn't care about sharp knives, or doesn't want to pay more than a couple of bucks, I found out. A previous poster stated that kitchen knives would be a large part of the work. Easy sharpening in my opinion , but like I said earlier, people don't want to pay more than a couple of bucks, so volume is the key to making any kind of pocketable money.


Man, tell me about it!:jerkit: I work in a restaurant and use mostly Japanese knives, which I keep pretty sharp. At first I did a few knives for coworkers, just as a favor and because I enjoy tinkering and trying out new stones, combos, etc. Eventually it's reached the point where I've done knives for pretty much everyone who actually has a knife of their own. A while back one of the guys mentioned to my boss that he'd seen my work and wondered if I'd do his. He had an entire roll of Shuns that were in horrifying condition. Turns out he'd had them done locally on a powered machine (a Tru-Hone IIRC) and they're really messed 'em up. So he asked me to fix them for the same price as the folks that screwed them up- $2 per knife!:rolleyes: I politely declined.

Eventually he did get tired enough of using them that he offered me $1 an inch. I sharpened his two favorite and he was ecstatic. Maybe he'll have me do some more eventually. Initially I didn't charge but I'm slowly being sucked into doing for money- it's just not worth the time & stone wear to keep fixing crappy knives for free.

I think this summer I'll probably help my Dad with his sharpening business. For the stuff we'll mostly do I'll probably use a belt. Although my main interest is in doing higher-end Japanese kitchen knives there aren't a lot of them around here. Most of them in my town are mine.:D And no, Shuns don't count.;)
 
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You might want to try this out for size...
About once a month (during the nicer weather only) a middle-aged fellow peddles his bicycle around the neighborhoods. On the back of the bike he has a square plastic water bucket (about 2'x2'x1) mounted over the rear wheel, with a raised platform in the middle of the bucket. He keeps his stones (large ones!) in the water, peddles up into the courtyard of an apartment building, and rings his bells. The housewives come down and bring their kitchen knives to be sharpened. He puts a stone on the platform, just out of the water, splashes some up onto the stone and quickly works up a slurry, changes stones two or three times, adding some more water to the stone currently on the platform, and is finished with a knife in about 4-5 minutes. Even less if it's a chisel-ground typical Japanese knife (which most of them are!) The stones are all about the size of large red building bricks, and most are quite dished out. No one seems to care. He always finishes a knife by slicing a sheet of newspaper for the housewife, and she hands hims a about $2-$3 USD per knife. Large cleavers might cost $3-$4.

The housewives stand around and gossip among themselves while he sharpens away. No power tools. No jigs. Nothing but a bucket of water, a couple of stones, and his bicycle! He spends about an hour or two, then peddles off to the next building, and does it all over again!

Now THAT is running a 'small sharpening business! :thumbup:

Stitchawl
 
Last edited:
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Dec 27, 2004
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2,265
Here's my setup....

MC_EP.jpg


Had to cap the stone arm to keep it from falling out while riding around.





cbw
(j/k of course)
 
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Jan 22, 2010
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68
I am a new guy here to the boards and am in the process of leanig how tp sharpen a knife,,really sharpen one like they should be sharpened,,,in the back of my mind a small business sharpening knives is forming,,not anytime soon,,I will not ge serious about it until I feel confident I can do a good job on whatever I am ask to sharpen,,I have a belt sander,,similair to the HF that I see mentioned here so much, I have belts ordered for it now,,and I am going to order the paper wheels next week, and I am gettign some good arkansas stones to,,some sandpaper as well I want to feel confident with all those before I attempt a business,,I do not expect to even think about really doing it for several months,,if then, I have so much to learn,,but I am going to retire ina few yrs and want a lil somethig to do to keep me busy and maybe makes afew $ doing something I love anyway, I hope this thread stays active with more ideas on how to run things, pricing, etc,,I read a great deal and am eager to learn, thanks for all the info
 
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