Are you the type of person who’s always had a knack for making things sharp? Maybe you’ve just never found anything that can satisfy your blade-sharpening needs. Or maybe your knives are just too dull for optimal use in the kitchen. Either way, you may want to consider turning this skill into a side gig business as an entrepreneur.
In this post, we’ll give pointers on how to start up a knife sharpening business, from choosing the best tool and setting up shop to marketing and customer service.
What You’ll Need:
If you’re going to start a knife sharpening business, you’ll need a few things. First and foremost, you’ll need the right tools. To sharpen knives effectively, you’ll want to invest in several things:
- A honing steel: A honing steel is used to straighten or align your blade after it’s been sharpened by your whetstone or electric sharpener. Don’t confuse this with a sharpening steel (see below). Honing steels are typically made of stainless steel or ceramic. It’s best to choose an honing steel that fits the length of knife that you will be working with most often. It’s also important to choose a honing steel that has a handle. Don’t sharpen your blades without one, as it can be quite dangerous.
- A whetstone: A whetstone is used to grind metal off your blade in order to sharpen it. You may want to purchase more than one, depending on the type of knife you prefer sharpening and the level of sharpness you like. Lower-quality whetstones can take many passes to grind off enough metal for edge restoration, while high-quality whetstones can get the job done in fewer passes. It’s best not to use the same stone for both grinding and honing.
If you’ve already got a honing steel and whetstone and are ready to start up your sharpening business, let’s go over the steps you’ll need to take next.
Choosing a Location:
According to the Small Business Association, an ideal location for your sharpening business should be in a neighborhood with a high number of potential customers, but also one that offers you a degree of privacy. The business can be either at home or at work, though most start-up entrepreneurs do well to keep their workshop off the premises. You may want to consider renting or leasing your work space if it’s within an unconditional lease period, as this may cost significantly less than purchasing the equipment outright.
Setting Up Shop:
After choosing where to set up shop, it’s time to think about what you’ll need for your workspace. One expensive item you’ll need is a sturdy work table. While you can definitely get by without one, you’ll be much more comfortable working on your blades if your tools are off the floor.
If you plan to sell your knives (rather than sharpen them for free), you’ll need an area for storage. A drawer or cabinet is sufficient for most start-ups. You’ll also want to purchase some display racks and signs. Remember that the appearance of your store will help people make the decision whether or not to come inside and pay you for your services, so try to make it look as professional as possible without spending too much money.
Marketing and Advertising:
The best way to sell your services is through word of mouth alone, though you can always use some social networking to promote yourself. You’ll want to ensure that you have a formal business card that includes the complete information about your shop. You’ll also need a website, if possible.
Once you’ve picked up on all the basics, it’s time to start getting to know potential customers by setting up an appointment with them and showing them around your place of business. Don’t forget to make these appointments as early in the day as possible so that they can have their choice of time slots available whenever they want one.
You must be ready to give your best customer service to every person that comes to your shop. This means being both friendly and helpful. Consider bringing some lemonade if you’re dealing with a hot day, or buy a few drinks for yourself if it’s cold out. Don’t forget to smile! When it comes time to negotiate the price for your services, make sure you have their knives on hand and pricing list in front of you. If they want something sharper than they can afford, tell them why you can’t do it for them. They’ll appreciate your honesty and may even offer to pay extra in order to get what they want.
Frequently asked question
Can I do this for a living?
Yes, absolutely! You’ll have to work hard at it, but the business is real and your income is completely up to you. Be sincere and offer your customers great service, or they won’t come back to you no matter how well you sharpen their knives. This is a form of art that can make you good money while doing something you love to do. It’s also a great place for a hobbyist or someone who loves working with his or her hands on a daily basis.
What qualifications do I need?
All you really need is to have an idea of how to use a sharpening stone and a little patience. You don’t need any experience or certification, though more expensive and complex knives may take you hours upon hours to complete each one so stick to your specialties if you like. The more familiar you are with your tools, the easier time you’ll have when working in your shop so make sure that you know every inch of your equipment before getting started. This will help you complete work faster and save money in the long run.
How much do I charge?
Your pricing will entirely depend on the type of knife you want sharpened and the length of time it takes you to complete each knife. The price for a single knife is generally $2 – $10, though a short sharpening service may cost as little as $5 or even $20 for simple knives such as steak knives. Longer services can cost a couple of hundred dollars and require hours of your time to complete, though they are usually more effective in the end. You can also choose to sharpen multiple types of knives such as knives with serrated blades, fillet knives and tenon saws at a discounted price so long as your hands are steady.
How can I get better at sharpening knives?
You can improve your skills by simply practicing on a regular basis. You’ll be able to do this as you sharpen your own knives or what you bought from the local hardware store. You can also gain experience by sharpening and selling the tools of others, which will make you more well known in the community and give you the chance to polish up your customer relations as well. Your business should grow in time, allowing you to continue sharpening and perhaps even begin running a shop or service where others come to learn how to sharpen their own knives for a nominal fee.
So, Build a Knife Sharpening Business!
If you like to work with your hands, the sharpening business is a good option for you. You don’t need any degrees or certifications and you can start small by working out of your home. As you improve and become more popular, work on your own schedules and expand your business however you like. If you are unsure about taking the leap into business ownership, try doing this on the side first to see how it works out for you. Your sharpening skills can also be used to sharpen other tools, such as axes and saws, so continue building up your customer base as well. Are you the type of person who’s always had a knack for making things sharp? Maybe you’ve just never found anything that can satisfy your blade-sharpening needs. Or maybe your knives are just too dull for optimal use in the kitchen. Either way, you may want to consider turning this skill into a side gig business as an entrepreneur.