Here’s another interview for our series. We’re pleased to have Zoltan The Knife Sharpener on Knife Planet today.
1. Hi Zoltan, how did you get into sharpening knives?
I used to be a chef. I started my college years back in Hungary in 1983. Through my chef career I worked in several very different kitchens like canteen, fast food restaurant ,vegan restaurant, 5*hotel. A lot to experience with knives. I came to England in 2006 and worked in few hotels down in Cornwall. Cornwall is a beautiful place to live! After my son was born in 2009 I’ve completely lost interest in cooking. I wanted to change working hours and lifestyle in general. This is how this knife sharpening business idea came up. Luckily enough I found a Gents who has trained me in knife, scissors and garden tool sharpening. He is one of the country’s top expert (Robin Bailey- SharpKnives – Here is KnifePlanet’s interview with SharpKnives
). So, in the very beginning of 2012 I started up my new venture in knife sharpening.
I mostly sharpen kitchen knives. I do not have much experience with pocket, tactic, fixed blade, hunting knives.
2. Can you share with us your way of sharpening kitchen knives?
I use a Tormek T7 slow turning water cooled machine to shaping the knives edge and then when I achieved the burr I do the deburring/polishing process on 2 different type of polishing clothes on a 6 inches bench grinder to make the edge razor sharp. If I do not polish the burr off from the edge the cut with the knife will feels like saw cut rather than a knife cut.-or something similar. And of course it won’t be razor sharp
. I do not finish the sharpening/edge shaping process on the stone till I get the BURR!
3. “is it sharp?” How do you test your knives for sharpness?
Usually I do the paper test cut but sometimes I take a tomato or potato with me. It’s better tester than paper cut. Especially the tomato skin. It won’t lie.
4. What’s your most important sharpening stone?
I work on a 220 grit water wheel. I don’t have many stones. They are not efficient in my business model.
But if I would start to use one I would go with a coarse like 180-250 grit stone (maybe a little bit even coarser) and move up. This first would be the most important in my line up! On these grit size you can get faster metal removal (you can see result quicker) and don’t get frustrated. Than use a 320-400gr and after that a 600-800gr and finish the process on a leather strop. You need to experiment what techniques, methodes, stones that suit you best.
There is no one model to everyone. Experimentation! That’s the beauty of knife sharpening. You got me here :). I’ll look around now and buy a few stones.
And again! I did not experiment this for myself. This is my theory. This is how I would start. Read topics,reviews,chats on here or other sites.
5. How often do you flatten your stones?
Every time you finished sharpening, you flatten your stone! It is very important to keep the stone flat. Use a coarser stone that you only use for flattening. Always lubricate it during flattening process.
6. Is the sharpening angle important?
Sharpening angle is very important. You have to chose the angle for the task you want to use your knife. My angle on chef’s knives
between 23 to 17 degree per side. I don’t go to lower bevel because I don’t like to leave a wide bevel on the knife I’ve sharpened. The edge must be durable enough till my next visit. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. But this is up to the chef who uses the knife. One more thing here to draw to your attention and that is the BURR that I mentioned before. Without BURR there is NO SHARP knives! Can not emphasise enough!
7. Would you recommend learning the sharpening process on inexpensive knives?
Cheap knife’s advantage is if you lost interest at the beginning of sharpening it does not cost much. But you can develop bad techniques or habits that you will use on more expensive knives and then there is a chance you’ll ruin those expensive ones. You’ll be disappointed. Let’s start your sharpening venture on mid range knives. I saw in the past 5 years hundreds of badly ruined hand sharpened (Global,Mac,Wusthof
,F.Dick etc) knives from even top chefs who claimed they are good at sharpening. Well! What can I say? Let’s trust the expert!
8. Are you still progressing by improving the way your sharpen blades?
I think I got a pretty good sharpening technique / method from Robin that I’ve used in the past 5 years and developed a successful business here in Cornwall. (Thanks Robin!) Was not easy though.
But of course! Always looking for new ways to perfect what and how I do. I’ve tried a few different sharpening methods (paper wheel, diamond wheel, pre-grinding, belt sanding) too, but none come close to Tormek.
And finally I would like to thank Roberto for the opportunity to share my experience here. Hope I could help you and not confused you more than you are already in sharpening. I do and see only a little segment in knife sharpening that I use day to day making my living. This is the above my experience I gained in the past 5 years and I do not claim (in practise and in theory) to being the best sharpener in the world.
Excuse me for my english guys. Have a KNIFE day! 🙂