The Great Hall
Knife Guy The Great Hall: Knife Guy
By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Friday, February 03, 2006 - 05:52 pm: Edit

My staff has been lobbing for me to bring in a Knife Sharpener. Not someone to come and sharpen our knives but a guy that Provides the knives and changes them out every few weeks.

I remember that very first deli i started in the business had and "Knife Guy" but I always resisted on principle. Cost they should know learn how to sharpen their own knives, blah blah blah.

Now I got a kitchen with people that are never (or so it seems) going to learn how to sharpen a knife.

Anyone use a knife sharpener? Any suggestions on what to look for?
Any help at all would be nice. Am I compromising my principles?

By Cookingfresh (Cookingfresh) on Friday, February 03, 2006 - 06:49 pm: Edit

The main problem I've had with "knife Guys" is the hidden charge for lost or damaged knives. I don't mind paying for real lost or damanged items but a lot of the cooks I've had hide their favorite knife and when the guy comes into trade the duplicate set to sharpen them he can't find several of the knives, so he charges either for the knives or for the service that he doesn't have to preform. The other problem is on the weeks that the lost knives re appear he just keeps the extra. So you either accept this or stand there while he collects and replaces your knives.
The concept of bring your own knives and know how to sharpen them seems to have fallen to the way side along with using cut gloves instead of teaching knife skills

By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Friday, February 03, 2006 - 07:49 pm: Edit

Good point cookingfresh. Also if you have inexperienced people in your kitchen the number of deep finger cuts goes way up the first few days after the knives are shapened.

By Pegasus (Pegasus) on Saturday, February 04, 2006 - 04:33 am: Edit

A Kershaw Kai electric knife sharpener, fool proof.

"Kai Electric Sharpener"

# Extremely easy to use, just pull your knife through 4 times.
# Quickly restores a fine edge to any kitchen knife.
# 4 Ceramic wheels graded from coarse to fine, reshape your blade and polish it to a razors edge.
# Easy to clean pull-out cartridge, just run it under a tap after use to clean it.
# After 3-5 years good use, just buy a simple replacement cartridge.

^ Kershaw prior to releasing that said not to use their knives in electric sharpeners, theres a lot of good reports about that sharpener, but its no good for small knives.

I keep a Global Minosharp water pull through with 2 ceramic wheels in my knife case, its not too bad. Only $30.

I wouldn't agree to a "knife guy" I know it's old fashioned but they should have their own tools.

I'd say buy the minosharp, its cheap and Ive used it on a big wusthof all the way down to a small global, works good enough with a diamond steel once a week or a regular one every day, it's useless if the knife is dead though, I tried it on a "made in china" knife with its edge rounded, completely useless, but if its got an edge on it it'll sharpen it up.

Seriously if it't not easy enough for them to use then they shouldn't be in a kitchen, if it's not good enough for them then tell them to goto hell and learn how to use a stone if they think they can do better.

If you provide them with a sharpening device thats easy to use then theres no reason to need a knife guy, they can either learn to use the sharpener you provide, get their own if they dont think its good enough and do it themselves, or use their blunt knife and you just keep telling them to do what they stuff up again until its done right.

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Saturday, February 04, 2006 - 09:42 am: Edit

Do mechanics rely on their employers to supply them with tools? Hold your ground and tell your employees that knives are part of the job, either they buy their own, or you can buy some from a restaurant supplier and sell them to your staff at cost price. Nothing special here,a paring knife and a 8 or 9" chef's. Then either get a sharpening machine or a knife sharpener to come in every couple of months.

By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Saturday, February 04, 2006 - 03:33 pm: Edit

I don't recommend hiring a "knife guy" to grind your kitchen knives. This is what he will do: he will come in, swap out your knives and grind them in his van on an electric grinder. That is the WORST way to sharpen any knife! Your chef's knives will eventually be ground into paring knives(not to mention Cookingfresh's point of being charged for misplaced or lost knives)!
I agree with Foodpump--instill a sense of pride and professionalism in your cooks. Have them buy their own knives and learn how to sharpen and hone them. If they don't know how to properly sharpen a knife, then they should refer to the cooking textbooks, The New Professional Chef, or On Cooking, knife sharpening technique no. 2, in which the sharpening(grinding) starts at the tip to the heel of the blade. In honing, they should reverse the direction, using a butcher's steel, they should start at the heel to the tip of the blade, which breaks off the microscopic burrs.
Another alternative to hiring a "knife guy" is to buy an mechanical sharpener(electric or manual) as Pegasus had suggested. However, I recommend one of the Chef's Choice Sharpeners, because IMHO, they make the BEST sharpeners in the industry, and they have a wide variety of models. I have one of their sharpeners for serrated knives. Otherwise, my "sharpener" is the two hands God gave me and a sharpening stone. I also use a conventional butcher's steel for honing. (Diamond-coated 'butcher's steels' or honing rods abrade very rapidly and become useless.) F. Dick makes the best butcher's steels in the industry. LamsonSharp had the best conventional butcher's steel made in USA.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Sunday, February 05, 2006 - 02:05 pm: Edit

An Electric Knife Sharpener. That's an option I hadn't considered.

By Chicagochefjeff (Chicagochefjeff) on Sunday, February 05, 2006 - 10:35 pm: Edit

Although I too prefer using a stone for my own knives, you might consider picking up a used Edlund sharpener on e-bay.
They retail for over $300 new but I picked up one in nearly new condition for $50 that way.

By Pegasus (Pegasus) on Sunday, February 05, 2006 - 11:50 pm: Edit

Even better for Cheftim, read this document on the Edlund site.

"Purpose of the test - To contrast the relative fiscal and actual efficiences between contracted knife supply and sharpening services and an in-house cutlery ownership and maintenance program."

Exactly the same situation you are looking at chef tim.

I think the minosharp pull through for $30 is more then enough, but if you could find a good electric sharpener for only $20 more, then it'd be worth it.

By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Monday, April 03, 2006 - 03:58 pm: Edit

A Primer on Knife Sharpening, Ch. 5

Knife Care and Facts

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Tuesday, April 04, 2006 - 10:32 am: Edit

Thanks Andrew, I'm sure that was well intended.

Five chapters on sharpening knives. Pretty obsessive don't you think. I always thought Bottorff has a little more time on his hands than is good for him. My dad taught me how to sharpen a knife in five minutes. Half the job is the sharpening the other half is knowing when it is sharp.

Here are some links for you.

Web sites where you might a job.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, April 04, 2006 - 10:42 am: Edit


By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Tuesday, April 04, 2006 - 12:36 pm: Edit

I thought that you might like Mr. Bottorff's testing the various electric sharpeners, or did you not read that part? I had the impression that you were considering an electric sharpener.

The 2nd link provided an opposing view, it stated:
"Avoid commercial power sharpeners like the plague. The worst thing that can happen to a knife when sharpened by hand is it will lose its edge. Motor driven wheels and grinders can ruin a knife. The original grinding lines are changed, and the blade can be overheated and loses its temper. Professional grinders use motor driven wheels, but it takes years of practice to get consistently good results. But it takes only a few seconds to ruin an expensive blade."

Thanks for your job links.

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