Here we are with another interview for our series “Know Your Knife Sharpener” – Today we have the pleasure to ask some questions to Peter Nowlan, owner of New Edge Sharpening.
1. Hello Peter, can you tell us more about you?
My name is Peter Nowlan, a retired Naval Officer. I became interested in Knife Sharpening 35 years ago starting on oilstones after watching my father sharpen a chisel. It was a trial and error thing at that time as there was no internet back then and nobody I knew had the same interest. Six years ago I discovered Japanese Water Stones and I also purchased the Edge Pro Professional
. I started my business to make extra money just to feed my obsession with water stones but the business took off and I am truly enjoying an abundance of dull knives to sharpen. I created the new Edge Sharpening site and My Blog
which I contribute to at least once a week. Last year I was in the major newspaper here, a full page article which took my business to different level. You can read the article here
2. Can you tell us what’s the first knife that you sharpened?
Yes, it was in 1977, I had recently joined the Navy and sharpened my sailors knife after watching my father sharpen his tools on a whetstone in the garage.
3. How did you make it a business, and how long have you been doing it for?
I started sharpening 35 years ago but I made it a business (New Edge Sharpening) five years ago after speaking with the Managers of two high end kitchen stores in my area.
4. What’s your sharpening technique?
My process and technique involves the use of at least 3 stones, coarse (220-600), medium (1,000-2,000) and fine (5,000 -16,000), I spend about 15 minutes on a knife (unless it is damaged) 10 minutes of that is on the first stone, I make my knives sharp on the coarse stone and subsequent stones are for refinement. I usually finish the knife at 2,000 – 3,000 grit. Better quality knives are more refined, from 5,000-10,000 grit. I sharpen using a freehand method with pressure on my trailing strokes. For smaller knives with curved blades
with areas that are hard to reach such as a boning knife, I use the Edge Pro. However, 90% of my sharpening is done by hand on full sized water stones. My favourite water stones are Naniwa Chosera, Shapton Pro, Shapton Glass and Kityama. I have about 40 stones.
5. How long did it take you to master it?
I do not consider myself a Master sharpener, I believe even master knife sharpeners become better master knife sharpeners. I don’t know if this is a skill that peaks, I hope it doesn’t.
6. What was the main challenge when you first started?
Understanding the concept of sharpening
, raising a burr, removing a burr. When I started, 35 years ago, certain important elements of the process were unknown to me, there was no Twitter remember 🙂
7. Do you recommend starting with cheap knives?
Definitely not, a cheap knife is composed of cheap steel, it is difficult to sharpen and could hinder the progress of a new sharpener by shaking confidence, learn on a good knife, have courage, it’s important.
8. What do you think is the most common mistake beginner knife sharpeners make?
They are impatient, this leads to not understanding the process, what you are trying to achieve: the removal of fatigued metal, raising a burr, bringing the two sides of the blade together perfectly at the Apex of the knife. Learn the theory, then practice it.
9. Are you improving your sharpening technique today?
Knife sharpening is a journey, it is an exciting and satisfying process that rewards those who challenge themselves, yes I am still perfecting my skills and technique.
10. What’s the most expensive blade you’ve ever sharpened?
It was a $2,000 Carter dream knife. I also sharpened a similar priced Bob Kramer.
11. Which knives you don’t like to sharpen?