Knife sharpening is a time-honored tradition that people still use today and there is a great opportunity to make money sharpening knives.
Sharpening someone else’s knife isn’t hard or time-consuming work either so this could be an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to earn some extra cash. You can do this service from your home or even in a public place, which makes it possible to fit the job around your current schedule. Knife sharpening is a great side hustle available to anyone (similar to starting a pressure washing business).
Not only that, you could offer to sharpen friends’ knives for free so they’ll be impressed by how good your services are and recommend you to their family and friends too. By building up a client base through word of mouth, soon enough you will have more work than you can handle. You could even expand into other areas such as honing steel or sharpening lawnmowers blades, scissors, etc.
This article will take you through the process of learning about knife sharpening tools then eventually teach you about how to start a knife sharpening business to make your own money doing professional sharpening.
Table of Contents
Knife Sharpening Tools
When sharpening knives and when thinking about creating a business knife sharpening, you need to know and own the different professional knife sharpening tools and blade shape. Having the proper sharpening equipment, like precision tools, belt sander, and any extra tools can help you be on the way to potential success.
This is a sharpening stone that has two types of grains which you need to know before buying it.
If you’re new to sharpening, then this stone might be difficult for you as it’s more complicated than the other tools on this list. Its coarse grain can be used for repairing damaged blades while its fine grain can be used for honing blades or making them razor sharp. Most sharpeners will use whetstones to professionally sharpen and properly sharpen their knives.
Using the classic whetstone is hard and takes more delicate skill, but it will allow you to turn a dull knife into one with a professional edge.
All types of sharpening stones are considered to be whetstones; however, different types have their individual qualities and have the things they are good at sharpening.
This tool costs around $60 and is very versatile because it’s perfect for all kinds of knives – European knives, hunting knives, and kitchen knives. Its whetstones are also available in different sizes with the 10″ x 2″ whetstone being ideal for regular knife sharpening.
Some wet/dry sandpaper or a strop can also be used in place of the whetstones.
This is different from a classic whetstone because it doesn’t have a coarse grain, instead it uses a diamond-coated rod which you can use for sharpening pocket knives and kitchen cutlery.
To use a whetstone, you’ll need to use water or oil as a lubricant for the sharpening stone. Then, hold the blade at an angle of about 20 degrees before sliding it over the whetstone.
A sharpening stone can be cleaned with water after use and then towel dried immediately. You should also leave it in a dry place to ensure that it doesn’t rust or lose its roughness.
These stones are usually rectangular-shaped and require no lubrication, unlike their whetstone counterparts. This makes them easier to use than the other tools on this list but they’re not as versatile as they are specifically designed for traditional knives.
They cost around $40 so you’ll need at least two of these stones if you want to sharpen both sides of your knife blade surfaces.
Foldable Diamond Stone
This is the newest product in the market which you can fold up for easy storage. It comes with a detachable stand and costs around $50 to $60.
Diamond stones can be used for honing knives. It also comes with a slide-out tray for collecting fine debris. You can use this sharpener for electric or manual knives.
This product is fairly new in the market and it can be used for sharpening both Asian knives, traditional knives, and old knives. It’s the most versatile of all the products listed here because it also has a ceramic rod that is found in most professional kitchens used for honing knives.
This sharpener works for both right-handed and left-handed people because it has two separate slots for sharpening and honing. It is very popular due to its certain qualities and high expectations it has.
This tool is also known as knife steel or honing rod. It’s much cheaper than the other tools on this list at about $15 but many people don’t find it as effective as the other products because it doesn’t sharpen blades well. Its main purpose is to hone blades which means that it simply re-aligns your blade’s edge rather than sharpening it.
But what makes this product so versatile is its ability to be used with almost every type of knife except for heavy cleavers and axes. You can use both sides of the steel although one side might suffice if you already have a whetstone or wet stone to do the job.
To use, hold your blade flat on the steel at a 90-degree angle before drawing it back towards you. There should be an even number of strokes on each side of your blade so if you sharpen both sides, there should be four swipes per side.
Electric Knife Sharpener
This is another fairly new tool that quickly sharpens blades with its two round or V-shaped slots. It costs around $50 but, some people complain that using one can take much longer than hand sharpening their blades because these devices tend to create more heat than other knife sharpening tools which might burn your blade’s metal or cause it to lose its tempering.
Electric sharpeners can also be used when sharpening scissors, serrated knives, serrated blades, and expensive knives.
The whetstones are more of a traditional way to sharpen knives, while electric knife sharpeners are new tools that can make the process more convenient but also lower the quality.
How to Sharpen a Knife
There are different ways to sharpen a knife and each has its own set of steps. The two most common ways to sharpen knives are – using a whetstone and an electric knife sharpener.
How to Sharpen a Knife with a Whetstone
To sharpen your knife with a whetstone, you’ll need to use water or oil as a lubricant. Then, hold the blade at an angle of about 20 degrees before sliding it over the whetstone until the blade is sharpened.
You should also clean the whetstone after use with water and a towel immediately after use. It’s also important to store the whetstone in a dry place so that it doesn’t rust or lose its roughness.
How to Sharpen a Knife with an Electric Knife Sharpener
To use an electric knife sharpener, simply follow the product’s instructions on how to insert and remove your blade from the machine. Most machines require you to start by inserting your blade at a 20-degree angle before placing it in its proper position for sharpening.
Some products also have separate slots for honing and sharpening while others have V-shaped or round slots that will do both jobs in one go. After using the correct slot, turn off the machine to prevent damage to your blade’s metal because these devices can generate high heat which can cause it to lose its tempering over time.
You should also clean the blades of the machine after use and store them in a dry place to avoid rusting or losing their sharpness.
But, by following the instructions given to you with the electric sharpener you will be able to correctly sharpen knives.
Sharpening vs. Honing
Although sharpening and honing look like the same thing, they serve different purposes.
Honing – This is a procedure used to make an already sharp blade even sharper by removing microscopic metal on the blade’s surface with the use of honing oil or water as lubricants. Honing can also be done with a steel rod but this is not as effective as using a honing stone because it doesn’t remove any material from the blade.
Sharpening – This process uses abrasives to grind away some metal so you can sharpen blades and it should only be done every few months if your knives are used often. Regularly using a honing stone can help prolong the time between sharpening sessions because this will just hone the blade instead of sharpening it.
It’s important as you start a knife sharpening business you understand the difference between these two similar things.
Tips When Sharpening Knives
Here are some sharpening tips that can help with sharpening your knives to prevent them from being dulled or damaged:
- Make sure the whetstones are made of silicon carbide because these are the hardest materials. If you use water as a lubricant, use only mineral oil rather than acidic substances to prevent it from damaging your stones.
- If you are confused about anything, YouTube videos can help you polish your knife sharpening ability because it is already a pretty self-explanatory skill.
- Use very light pressure when sharpening so you don’t accidentally damage your blade. If you damage your blade or the blade of a customer, it can be hard to fix it and you might have to buy a new one.
- Don’t try too hard to increase the sharpness of your knife by using overly aggressive strokes because this will only cause unnecessary damage to your knife’s blades.
- Keep in mind that even though sharpened kitchen knives cut better and faster, they require more maintenance not just for their blades but also for their handles
- You should sharpen your knives regularly, otherwise, they will lose their sharpness.
- Use light pressure when sharpening your blades because heavier pressure can make it harder for you to see what you’re doing. But don’t press too lightly either because this might cause the blade’s metal to wear out.
- If your knife is already dull or damaged, then you’ll need to use a grinding stone first before using a whetstone or wet stone on it. This is different from sharpening because you won’t be running the blade over the stone but rather moving the metal on the edge of the blade across it instead. You can find these tools online or in home improvement stores.
- Don’t apply too much pressure when sharpening your knives because the blade might break.
- Wipe the blades with a soft cloth immediately after using them to avoid rusting or corroding.
- Be careful when you’re washing your knives because they might still be sharp even if they don’t look it.
It’s important to know what type of knife you have before sharpening it because each tool has a specific use and some knives might be ruined if the wrong tool is used for its blade.
To prevent accidents when using any of these products, it’s best to read their instructions first and avoid using them on broken blades or handles.
If you’re careful enough when using these products, then you should be able to extend your knives’ lifespan and potentially increase your business size with your high-quality knife sharpening skill set.
But most importantly, keep your kids away from sharp objects and teach them the proper way to handle them so there are no potential accidents as knives and knife sharpeners can be dangerous.
Starting a Knife Sharpening Business
Have trouble finding a job? Want to make some extra money? Why not start your own niche business providing a professional edge for sharp knives. Providing a knife sharpening service can give you a decent living.
This is a fairly easy business to start (like making money from curb painting), first it can be started from home, and there are no major overheads. All you need is a whetstone or an electric knife sharpener, a cloth to wipe the blades with after sharpening them, and possibly an electric knife sharpener.
If you already have a day job, this can be an easy side hustle you can do on the side. This can be a part-time business that could eventually grow once you have enough capital from the business.
Also, if you choose to hire employees this would be necessary as well because it will take up too much time if you try to sharpen all knives by hand.
Your customers will expect faster turnarounds than other businesses, so you can set up a workstation in your house, with the necessary equipment, like wheel grinds, to make your potential customers, see the quality work you put out in shorter amounts of time.
Because you will have a potentially lucrative business, you want to make sure you charge an average price for the particular type of blade that you will be sharpening. This can help you receive a positive reputation around the area. It might seem like you have a small salary at the beginning due to your business being new, however, your sharpening services can quickly grow until customers will actively seek your services.
Advertising is very important in any type of business. You should place ads in local newspapers and other publications such as the Penny Saver or Postcard News, print flyers and hand them out to people walking by, and set up a website with photos of your services. If you’re planning on hiring employees then these advertisements will help you find talented applicants who can sharpen knives faster than you.
Knife and Scissor Sharpening Prices
You also need to establish a fair price for sharpening blades because there are debates over how much someone should pay for this service; some say it’s reasonable if they pay $1 per blade while others think paying more is acceptable depending on the state of the knife’s edges. One way to overcome this dilemma is to ask your customers what they think is a fair price before performing the job.
Where to Operate Your Knife Sharpening Business
There are plenty of places you can operate your knife sharpening business.
Farmers markets can be a good place to sell your services due to the number of people that visit them. You can set up a table with a sign advertising what you do and asking if customers have knives they want to be sharpened.
County fairs have a lot of foot traffic so you can set up shop in a busy corner or a place with a good amount of walkway. This will allow potential customers to find you and your services.
Door to Door
This method is probably the most efficient because you can easily walk up to people’s homes and offer your services. Pick a neighborhood where residents are likely to have knives they want to be sharpened and walk up to their door. Explain your services and you can have a customer in no time.
Outside Hardware Stores
Your knife sharpening business will benefit if you set up outside stores that have large parking lots or busy sidewalks. You can hand out flyers to prospective customers when they walk by after arriving at the store.
FAQ – Make Money Sharpening Knives
How much money do I have to put into starting this business?
You shouldn’t have to spend more than $200. All you need is a whetstone or wet stone, maybe an electric knife sharpener, and some cloths for cleaning the blades after sharpening them. This type of knife sharpening equipment will get you started repairing broken tips so people don’t have to buy a replacement knife.
Are there other costs involved besides the initial investment?
Yes, another important thing to remember is advertisement fees. You should start by placing ads in local newspapers and magazines that your targeted audiences would read then follow up with handouts. If you want to hire employees then create flyers advertising their position as well as how much they will be paid every hour.
What if my customers don’t think it’s fair how much I’m charging for sharpening their knives?
You could always ask them to give you an amount that they think is fair before you begin. Alternatively, say that the price may be more or less depending on how dull the blade is. Most people will just agree with whatever number you tell them. Provide them with knives sharpened that a professional chef would have, and they’ll continue to have high expectations.
How long will it take for my knife or scissors sharpening business to become profitable?
It depends on how much effort you put into your marketing and how many people there are in your area. Sometimes it may take a few weeks but if you work hard then success is sure to follow eventually.