Notes from a professional knife sharpener


Eric E. Weiss is a professional knife sharpener who, unlike most others in his field, does it all by hand. He either tackles the blade freehand or clamps it in a jig that he modified. When he's working, Weiss sharpens around 40 knives a day. The San Francisco Chronicle invited Weiss tell his own story:

I started sharpening knives when I was 5. By the age of 10, I was making money from it. My friends in the Scouts paid me 5 cents to sharpen their knives! But I never thought I would have a knife, scissors and gardening-tool sharpening business when I grew up….

You should definitely be using a sharpening steel – the tool that comes with any knife set – every time you're done with your knife. Hold it straight up and down on your table. Start from the heal or the guard, depending on your knife, and draw it straight down at a 25-degree angle. Two or three times either side is all you need. More than that, you start removing your edge.

Dishwashers are my No. 1 nemesis. People seem to think that any knife can be put in a dishwasher. But in fact it's like sandblasting your car in order to clean it. The knife is banging against the basket, getting chips, nicks, dents, dings. And if the knife has any sort of quality steel to it, the dishwasher can remove the edge in two, three washings.

Some people think dull knives are better than sharp knives because they're safer. Wrong! You're pushing and exerting much more pressure on a dull knife. So when you finally break loose, in most cases, your fingers are in the way.

"Knife sharpener Eric E. Weiss gets to the point"