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Is your sharpener knowledgeable?

Whether you have previously used a sharpening service or you are just being introduced, it is important to find the right sharpener for the job. Not all sharpeners are created equal. You have sharpeners for knives, sharpeners for beauty shears, sharpeners for industrial blades; the list goes on. What one individual uses to sharpen a knife may not be the right tool for beauty shears. One machine that is used to sharpen a lawn mower blade is not meant for a household kitchen knife. In other words, the individual doing the sharpening needs to have the right equipment for the task at hand.

Many sharpeners use a standard belt sander or a bench grinder to sharpen everything. Don’t get me wrong, you can put a sharp edge on your knife with a belt sander or grinder, but it won’t last long and in the long run, it will cause more damage to your blade. Belt sanders take a lot of metal off the blade. It also has a tendency to heat the steel. Heating the steel will break the temper, causing the metal to become weaker. This in turn will cause micro-fractures and chips in the blade. Not to mention, the edge will dull very quickly, needing another sharpening within weeks of the last. The best kind of machine to sharpen knives would be something that is water-cooled. A flat-hone machine or a machine with diamond wheels, rather than your standard grinding wheels are better for your beauty shears.

Another factor to consider is the measurement of the angles on the edges of the blades. If you are a professional chef, you are not going to want your favorite Chef Knife sharpened at a 30 degree angle. If you are a stylist, you need a sharpener who knows the difference between a convex (Japanese) and bevel (German) edge for your shears.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions… don’t assume the sharpener just knows what he is doing. Test his knowledge base. Here are a few questions to ask:

1) What kind of sharpening machine do you use?

2) What degree angle should be on my knife?

3) My beauty shears are Japanese. Can you re-convex my shears?

4) How do you know at what angle you are sharpening?

If you find that your sharpener is fumbling over his words, doesn’t know the difference between convex and bevel edges, uses a belt sander to sharpen most things… you may want to switch to someone who does have the answers and understands the ins and outs of sharpening… The Blade Doctor!

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