Here’s our second interview of our new series: Know Your Knife Sharpener. Today we have the pleasure to know more about Josh, from Razor Edge Knives.
1. Do you remember the first time you sharpened a knife?
I ‘sharpened‘ knives as a kid on a diamond stone – still remember the name of it. It was the EZE-Lap diamond stone. Not that I was able to really get it sharp but I think that’s where it all started… a cheap pocket knife and a diamond stone when I was a kid. Been intrigued with sharp knives ever since!
2. How did you make it a business, and how long have you been doing it?
Well, I (for whatever reason) asked for a Spyderco Sharpmaker from my wife one year as a Christmas present. I began using that but soon realized it is no good for reprofiling edges (which most need). So then for a gift later I had done a lot of research and asked for an Edge Pro Apex. After I got that I realized that I could get a knife REALLY sharp so I just put it out there on Craigslist, and slowly began building my business: Got a website, cards, listed my business on google, upgraded equipment, etc. The Lord has seen fit to bless my business such that, 5 years later, I am full time now doing what I love! I now offer a mail-in sharpening service nationwide as well as sharpen locally.
3. Can you tell us more about your sharpening process and technique?
I use several techniques and pieces of equipment to sharpen and modify knives… There is no “one best” approach as each situation demands different ways to approach the solution
. I use a variable speed 2×72 professional belt sander for reprofiling or regrinding a knife, but then I can finish it or fine tune the edge on the Wicked Edge. The technique I use is to develop a burr on both sides of the edge then remove the burr in various ways for a clean, burr free apex. I have also developed a way to sharpen or even grind serrations
into a knife edge. All of my powered equipment has been converted to be cooled with a coolant during the grinding process to prevent temper damage – this is something many professional sharpening services overlook to their detriment.
4. How long did it take you to master it?
That’s a hard question because I am always learning and developing my technique further. But it wasn’t hard to get a sharp edge on a knife with the right equipment
from the beginning, it’s the rest that is difficult: making sure you don’t have a wire edge, making the bevel look good (nice and even, with consistent grind lines), being careful to not remove too much metal on powered equipment, learning the process of applying a mirrored edge, etc.
5. What was the main challenge when you first started sharpening knives?
Learning to develop a burr and remove it so I was sure that I had truly apexed the edge.
6. Is starting with cheap knives a good idea for beginners?
Yes, I would say it is. As long as it has been heat treated and tempered then it is a great idea. The sharpening fundamentals do not change, no matter the steel. It may just be more difficult to master on cheap knives that have a difficult burr, but you are not damaging your expensive knives
which is the positive to this.
7. What do you think is the most common mistake beginner knife sharpeners make?
Not going far enough or using a coarse enough stone (by hand/manually), or conversely, grinding the knife edge into oblivion (on powered equipment). Both of these are related to inexperience and will come with time – but that’s why cheap knives are great practice knives because you aren’t scared to mess them up.
8. Are you still perfecting and improving your sharpening technique today?
Absolutely… with every knife =)
9. What’s the most expensive knife you’ve ever sharpened?
It was a Shirogorov Coordinal – runs around $9,000
10. Which knives you don’t like to sharpen?
Customs. They are expensive, nerve wracking, and because of the time I kind of lose money. Just one more thing to offer.