Here’s our fourth interview of the series “Know Your Knife Sharpener” – Today we’re pleased to have Vincent Lau, knife sharpener at Korin.com
1. Can you tell us what’s the first knife that you sharpened?
The first time I sharpened a knife was around 5 years ago here at Korin. The first knife I sharpened was a chef knife, which I was told to use to get the feel of sharpening.
2. How did you make it a business, and how long have you been doing it for?
I have been sharpening knives for about 5 years.
3. What’s your sharpening technique?
The way we sharpen knives here at Korin is a process that uses a Water Wheel, Whetstones and some other equipment. This technique has been passed down to our resident master knife sharpener Chiharu Sugai from one of the most skilled knife sharpener in Japan Mr. Shozo Mizuyama.
4. How long did it take you to master it?
It took me about 2 years until I was able to work on customer’s knives. However, I would not say I have mastered it. Mr. Chiharu Sugai has been sharpening for 20+ years and he is still training under Mr. Mizuyama in Japan. I feel that knife sharpening is a constant learning process and there is not a point at which you can completely master everything about it.
5. What was the main challenge when you first started?
There were a lot of challenges when I first started out. The most difficult part was finding the proper angle and allowing sharpening to be natural. Also while practicing, my fingers would always end up bleeding because of the constant rubbing on the whetstones.
6. Do you recommend starting with cheap knives?
There are some pros and cons to practicing on a cheap knives. Some pros are that most cheap knives have a much softer steel which makes it quicker to restore an edge on them. It’s also great since you will most likely end up scratching your knife. The cons would be that cheaper knives sometimes aren’t constructed well. This can make it difficult to maintain an even edge on the knife.
7. What do you think is the most common mistake beginner knife sharpeners make?
The most common mistake that beginner knife sharpeners make is that many sharpen their knives at a very steep angle. This causes the knife to wear down much quicker and the knife will not come out very sharp.
8. Are you improving your sharpening technique today?
I am constantly practicing and learning new techniques from Mr. Chiharu Sugai.
9. What’s the most expensive blade you’ve ever sharpened?
I have sharpened many knives over the last 5 years so I’m not exactly sure which was the most expensive. A knife that I just recently sharpened that was expensive was a custom made Bob Kramer knife that the customer valued at $8,000+.
10. Which knives you don’t like to sharpen?
My least favorite knives to sharpen are small knives such as paring knives, steak knives, etc…
They are small which makes it uncomfortable to grip and are not very challenging to sharpen.
I’ve been collecting knives for over 7 years. During all these years, I've collected knives from all over the world, ranging from Argentina to Myanmar. Besides knives, I'm an avid traveler and I love hunting and fishing.