Pro knife sharpening: How to separate the good from the bad?

alku05November 3, 2006

With no doubt, the best wedding gift we received was a full set of Wusthof Classic knives. After more than a year of steady use, we took them to our local cutlery shop to have then sharpened. They did a HORRIBLE job. I dare say some of the knives came back less sharp than when we brought them in. They now are on pare with the cheapy knives my mom bought from Odd-Lots for my first apartment.

Assuming that the shop hasn't permanently damaged our knives, I'd like to take them elsewhere to get them properly sharpened. How can I assess the would-be sharpener BEFORE I trust them with my knives? What questions should I ask? Any tips on locating a good knife sharpener (we live in a small community)?

Also, should I be worried that the knives are permanently damaged from one bad sharpening? How could I tell? Thanks!

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kitchendetective

D R Sharpening Solutions has a website. The owners is often on Knifeforums and seems very knowledgeable. (I have been researching this for a couple of weeks because I live in a small town and, while some folks are good at sharpening lawn mower blades and things like that, they aren't that familiar with fine kitchen knives.) You can call them and ask questions before you decide whether to proceed. Dave will tell you prices, etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sharpening

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 9:02PM
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trekker

Sharpening knives isn't all that difficult. Do some reading, buy your own stone and try it. My husband does my knives. You should also have a honing steel for bringing back the edge between sharpening sessions.

As for finding a competent sharpener, I'd try a high-end cookware store (Williams Sonoma would be my first choice) or a store that sells professional cooking equipment for advice/recommendations.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 11:51AM
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azzalea

Doesn't WT sharpen them for you? Maybe I'm out of the loop on this one, but I've got Cutco knives, and they sharpen them for free for the life of the knife (although, they rarely need sharpening--my most used one is 10 years old and it's just now getting to the point where it might need to be sharpened).

I once heard that you should only have knives sharpened by the manufacturer or use their brands of sharpeners on them if you're doing it yourself, because of the differences in materials of different brands. I don't know if that's true, or just an old wive's tale. But I would be hesitant to let just anyone play around with my good knives.

When you do find another place, would it be feasible to take just one knife in to them? and see what kind of job they do on that before dumping off the rest of the set?

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 1:03PM
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alku05

Thanks everyone. We don't really have a high-end cookware store around here; the closest Williams-Sonoma is 90 miles away.

We do use our honing steel reguarly to maintain the edge. It's just that after 15 months of use, we started to feel that they weren't as sharp as they used to be. Because Wusthof recommends professional sharpening about every year, we figured were due. We do have a restaurant supply store about 20 miles from here; perhaps they can recommend a good sharpener.

My DH is willing to learn to sharpen our knives, but he's a little nervous about how much of a learning curve there is, as he's a bit nervous about experimenting on our good knives.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 5:40PM
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gardenlad

Buy an inexpensive knife and let him learn on that. It's not particularly hard, and he should have little trouble.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 6:19PM
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kitchendetective

I mail ordered a DVD done by Murray Carter, a gentleman who lived in Japan for a number of years, mastering the art of making knives. Then I practiced on an old stainless steel knife that was not made of very good stainless, so that I would not grieve if I ruined it. I bought Norton stones and had some old stones, which I flattened. The DVD is not Academy Award-winning entertainment, but it is very informative. My junky knife is sharper than it ever has been, and now DH uses it all the time. I do have some good kinves, but I do not feel ready to go to town on the stones with them.

Here is a link that might be useful: I think I ordered it here

    Bookmark   November 12, 2006 at 11:31AM
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trekker

Just for fun, I googled the phrase "how to sharpen knives" and found quite a few references. You can do this. Also makes a terrific hostess or other occasion gift . . . an offer to sharpen knives, that is.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2006 at 11:07PM
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alto

I have Wustof knives too. I sent an email to them and asked who they recommended for sharpening. They sent a list and we went to one about 5 miles from our home. They charged a few dollars per knife. Best money spent. I can't attach the list, but if you email me, I will forward.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 5:49PM
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fairegold

I don't think you can ruin a good knife at all. If the edge is damaged, it can be brought back to a great sharp edge if done properly. But they can't permanently ruin a good knife unless they break it across the middle.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 9:56AM
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alku05

Thanks for that info fairegold, that's a relief!

Alto sent me the list of local sharpeners that Wusthof recommends, and lo and behold, there's one nearby. I'll most likely give them a try by bringing them one knife and seeing how they do.

Still think learning to sharpen our own with a stone is a good idea, and DH has started reading up on it. Hopefully next time he'll be able to tackle the job himself.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 1:05PM
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