Today, Saturday 6/10, from 9am to 2pm I am sharpening at The Essential Ingredient in Rozelle.
Tomorrow, Sunday 7/10, from 9am to 3pm you can find me at the Addison Rd markets in Marrickville.
In two weeks time, Thursday 18/10, I am teaching a sharpening class at The Essential Ingredient in Rozelle.
End of transmission…beep
I WILL NOT BE AT THE MARKET THIS SUNDAY (27/5). Please pass this on to anyone to which this may pertain! My truck is in the shop in preparation for our bush trip next month, it was meant to be ready on friday but alas…the mutha f’r was not. lame. My apologies to anyone that may be adversely effected by my absence.
So I had this idea…
I would write a blog article about the various sharpening techniques being employed by the various sharpeners around Sydney. Sounds simple enough right? I had it all worked out, and I was going to do my best to keep it as unbiased and factual as possible. Stuff like motor RPM’s, diameter of abrasive wheels, types of abrasives, grits, cooled or not cooled etc etc. And in order to keep the article as unbiased as possible, I was even going to leave myself and all the info concerning my techniques out. Putting myself in would’ve been redundant anyhow (I am certainly not one of the ”magic mystery magician” type sharpeners)…almost everything anyone might like to know about what I do is on the ”Tools and Techniques” page of my website and if anyone wishes to know more, I make it clear that all they’s gotta do is ask.
So I began my investigation as anyone would, and at the most obvious starting point, “the beginning”… and so, I contacted some sharpeners via email. One by one the responses came in. They all had different stories or reasons or excuses but they all said the same thing: “No…blah blah blah…I’m not going to give you any information at all”. Now, I can understand that my competitors might be a bit wary of me and my loud mouth, and I can understand the bone chilling fear they may experience when they think of the possible impact that my hugely influential and uber-powerful blog might have on their business. (I mean seriously, there is absolutely no telling the level of severity or the extent of the inumerable possible repercussions which would unfold, engulfing everything like a raging tidal wave of molten lava, once I told the world exactly what variety, type and grit (or micron) of mud that they themselves so willingly provided me to sling (“By the power of Greyskull…I have the power!!! He-man…) OMG! Can you f’n imagine?!?!)
Seriously though…no really I’m being seriously serious…I can understand their scepticisim and trepidation and viewed from where they stand I can see why they might say “no”. However, I made a strong point to say that no names would be named (personal or business) and I would make the article a straight forward ”pros and cons” sort of thing based on the facts that they provide me. Now either I come across as an untrustworthy snake in the grass (inland taipan to be precise) or they are super paranoid or perhaps there is some sort of ”sharpeners code” (like the “Magicians code”) that I don’t know about (Is there? If there is, will someone please throw me a bone? because it will be news to me)? Because I got a whole heap of…nothing…nada…zip…zilch… So after a while I realised the futility of my venture and gave up. But it got me thinking, and so out of curiosity…I instead started calling sharpening services posing as a” serious and knowledgeable yet curious person with some precious knives to be sharpened” to see if as a customer with cold hard cash waiting to fly from my wallet to theirs could get any more answers. And? Again I got…nothing…nada….zip…zilch. Now I know I am not the greatest actor in the world and I probably should’ve gotten a woman with a sexy disarming voice to do my dirty work but total deception was not the point. The point was answers, answers that would and could be willingly provided to questions posed by anyone. I wasn’t necessarily after specific facts, much less their top secret sharpening recipie, all I wanted was info. I asked all sorts of questions, everything from grits to diameters to brand names and blah blah blah and all I got was the run around and prices. Now since I didn’t talk to every sharpener in Sydney I cannot say that this pertains to every single last sharpener and I am sure there are others like me who if asked are happy and excited that some one has shown an intrest in what they do (and love) and will gladly chew your ear off about it but from what I found their as rare as hens teeth, well maybe not that rare but pretty rare. Hmmmmmmm??????
Does anyone besides me find this a bit suspect? I mean, if given the oppertunity to dispell the myths and to clear the air about what you do wouldn’t you take it? Especially if what you did was shrouded my stories of “Oh that guy…he’s crap” etc? Personally, I dive at the chance. In fact, I want people to know about what I do because I want them to know that I know what I am doing and that they can trust me to do a good job. When I asked these guys the questions and got the paranoid, nervous “no” answers alarm bells went off. I can’t think of (and I am a thinkin’ man) very many reasons that a person might react this way. To me it says 1) “I don’t know and therefore don’t know what I am doing” 2) “I know that I am producing a substandard product and don’t want to get caught out” 3) “I am paranoid and don’t want anyone to steal my top secret sharpening technique”…no matter which you pick and/or regardless of the reason, not one of the miriad of possible answers has a positive connotation.
So what gives “sharpener” dude/dudettes? Whats the big f’n deal? Because I don’t understand…I don’t know… and I don’t get it.
Do you really not know what you are doing? Or do you perhaps prey on peoples nieviety and victimise them with a product that you know is inferior or one that you know will fail in x amount of time ensuring possible repeat business? Being able and willing to provide real answers to legitimate questions seems to me like a pretty important thing to be able to do…doesn’t it? Afterall, I know I wouldn’t trust a surgon who couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me in detail about what they were about to do to me. Nor would I trust a mechanic with my vehicle for the same reasons. Whats that you say(?)”What’s the big deal? They’re only knives, and some of them are crap as well! And judgeing by the condition the knives were in when I got them they’re just going to get abused anyway.”
That may be true (except the “just knives” part, knives are tools and tools are important. After all, tool use is one of the most important milestones in the evoloution of a species. Que no?) but it doesn’t matter what “they” do with “their” stuff “they” own it. And “they” can do what ever “they” want with it and ”we” aren’t in any position to say anything about what “they” do with “their” stuff. It does however matter what “we” do with “their” stuff because it’s not “ours” its”theirs” and the fact that ”we” are doing work on ”their” knives means : WE WORK FOR THEM! By hireing us the customer is trusting us enough to do a good job and is paying us their hard (sometimes) earned money and so is our boss man/woman and as such, it is our duty to honor that trust by providing them with the highest quality work that we are able. But instead, ”Our duty” has been completely disregarded by some and because of this our reputation has been draged through the mud. This really chaps my hide.
The quality of work done by sharpeners, especially mobile ones, has become widely suspect, especially to chefs and restaurant owners (who are our bread and f’n butter I might add). Justly so in my opinion. I was shocked when I first moved here by the “quality” (I use that term very, very loosly) of work produced by some mobile sharpeners. I couldn’t believe 1) that people were paying for their knives to be butchered and treated like crap, and more so that 2) someone calling themselves a “sharpener” had the audacity to think that it was ok to do such crappy work on something that wasn’t even theirs, and charge money for it!
Well enter a new era…the public has more choices now and there are guys and gals out there who really care about what they do and are doing their best to provide the absolute best product possible (with respect to their technique, knowledge, and skill). But separating the grain from the chaff is not an easy task and every now and then one will get a big ol’ heap’n bowl of chaff, and it will suck. But don’t let that big bowl of dry gross chaff disuade you from your quest. Don’t say f’ it and go out and buy new knives, venture on (you will find that there are “sharpeners” and there are Sharpeners), and when you finally find the grain that works for you, doesn’t upseet your stomach or make you fart, hold onto it (not the fart).
Holy crap…I don’t know about you but I think that horse is dead…deadand beaten to a bloody, mushy pulp! OK…I’ll shut up now. Stay tuned however for the “My ‘First’ Potential Sharpener Quiz and Checklist”….
First I would like to apologise for the lack of posts and updates. I have recently been having a spate of late finishes and by the time I unload the truck, clean up, drink a beer(s) and organise dinner I usually feel pretty devoid of inspiration. Why all the late finishes? Well it seems as though the fates have been against me and everything from crashes on the motorway to job’s being two or three times bigger than expected have pushed my days well into darkness (daylight and my mood). I wish I could say that it’s been because I am super f’n busy and am making money hand over fist but the reality is that I have been doing a lot of sitting in deadlocked traffic watching the clock slowly tick past my appointment times and more money has been leaving my wallet than entering it.
But that is not the point of this post…
…nor is this (warning, boring sharpening stuff ahead): I have a few exciting (well exciting to me anyway) things in the works. First, I have just acquired some aluminium plate for the platen on my machine. Huh? The platen is the flat plate under the linishing belt on my machine on which I do most of of the sharpening, well, the important accurate bits at least. It is of utmost importance that the platen be perfectly flat and aluminium stays perfectly flat. Aluminium has other benefits as well, 1) it is super slippery, and will reduce the friction between the platen and the belt which means less strain on the motor and faster start-up between belt changes. 2) aluminium is an excellent heat sink, it conducts and sheds temperature very quickly so (so suck your toe, all the way to Mexico…) even though I have more or less beaten the ‘overheating’ bully already, every little bit helps.
I have also just made a leather linishing belt to strop with which is great, no more felt wheel! Well sort of, I will still use the felt wheel for buffing and blending and the like but I now have the supreme accuracy of the belt and platen to finish all blades on. Huh huh? Having the accuracy of the platen to work on means more accurate angles, no compression or flex in the strop and therefore little to no risk of dubbing the edge. ’Dubbing’ is a rounding over of the cutting edge which happens when the strop compresses and rolls over the edge essentially blunting it. Dubbing is to be avoided at all costs, not because it is particularly detrimental or difficult to fix but because it is the most frustrating f’n thing in the whole f’n world when you spend a heap of time sharpening a blade only to find that it doesn’t cut shit (a German named Adolf (no relation) once told me: “Outcome outcome outcome, the outcome is everything. See…you do everything right and (tests scissors)…it doesn’t cut shit!) Well it could probably cut shit but you know what I mean.
Don’t worry the juicy bit is coming up, but not yet, instead…An adjustable tool rest! Huh x3? I have been working on the design for a quick change tool rest that will allow me to set perfectly accurate angles for a large range of different tools and I believe I have done it! This isn’t that big a deal as I have tool rest now that allows me to do the same thing but it is a pain in the ass. The new version, 2.0 that is, will allow more accuracy and speed when I am sharpening a big batch of like items, chisels for example (of which there can be 30 or more at one job all cut to the same angle.) There will be no more screwing around with jigs or worrying about replicating the bevel angle between grits. Essentially it will kick ass.
And the last thing, well that’s top secret. If this thing works as I hope it will…it will also kick ass.
Now finally, the part you have all been waiting for. The part that the title is about (which was a toss up between Public Enemy, and the Misfits, obviously P.E. won.) So i got an email from some guy the other day. A personal email. No proper return address and no last name. Only cowards find strength and bravery in anonymity. Unless of course you’re doing something which would land you in prison, then anonymity is just forward thinking. Anyway, here it is:
“Well Brian, it’s no wonder people don’t comment on your website as much as you would want them to, disgusting language and bad attitude does not help on your part. You must be a very angry person inside.”
For the most part, I don’t really care what people think of me, I am a take it or leave it kind of guy. I do however do my best to be socially respectful, amicable and approachable as I think everyone should be regardless of values or beliefs and I expect the same in return (the contrary is true as well though, approach with ill will and venom and expect the same in return). So when I receive an accusative email full of unfounded opinions…I don’t really care. Like whiskey down an injuns throat, or water and ducks or whatever etc… But what I do care about is not having the opportunity to respond. There was an email address from which the note was sent but it was a generic bulk server type address, email@example.com sort of thing. I knew no one would be there at the other end to to read my reply but I sent one anyways…fifteen or so times over several days. I was hoping to catch a fish but I was either using the wrong bait or fishing in the wrong lake….So I wrote:
“I assume the comment you made is in reference to the “Are there any actual humans out there” post I wrote. Maybe a few others as well, I’m not sure.
As to the first part, “Disgusting language”, I do agree that some of the words and phrases I use in my posts to convey my frustration or “anger” on a subject may not be agreeable with some. However this “disgusting language” for others is quite normal, maybe a bit crass, but still an everyday thing. And still others find this “disgusting language” quite funny. I am sure you know there are two sides to everything, some will hate what I write and others will appreciate it and I am sure there are many who are totally indifferent. But to each their own, right? One last thing, the only power that any words have is that given to them by the reader or listener. My writing and the words therein had absolutely no meaning or power until you read them and allowed them to.
As to the second part my “bad attitude” and being an “angry person inside”. It is true that I can be aggressive at times and this aggression may be interpreted as anger but for the most part it is not anger which drives me to express myself the way I do. Most of the time it is frustration, frustration at a lot of things, some trivial and some personal. I do my best to keep things candid while I express my frustration but there will always be those, like yourself, who won’t get the jokes. Collateral damage. I am not an angry person inside. I am a passionate person who believes strongly in certain things and in a certain way of living and it is this passion which prompts me to say what I think. Which brings me to my “bad attitude”. I consider myself quite a friendly, helpful, positive and approachable person and I dare say so do most of the people I know or have met through my daily travels. I do not however feel the need to “pull punches” or “spare feelings”. This I know doesn’t agree with some but (again) still others appreciate the honesty, however brutal it may sometimes be.
I wish I had more time this morning to respond more fully to your comment however I have to run, work to do and appointments to make. I am sure you get the point I am trying to make anyway.
Thank you for your comment, however, why didn’t you express your comment publicly in reference directly to the post which prompted you to write?
Have a good day,
Needless to say, I received no correspondence.
The point of this whole post (well maybe not the whole thing, just the juicy bit) is this: Please please please voice your opinion. Got something to say to me or about me? Please feel free. I have always said: I may not agree with what one has to say but I will fight to the death for their right to say it. But… if you send me a personal email, at least give me the means to reply (I won’t shred you publicly don’t worry) and if you are scaredy cat and would prefer to remain anonymous then post a public comment on my blog. Either way, all I am asking is for my chance to have my say too.
Oh and one last thing…Don’t like my attitude? Don’t like the language I use? News flash fool…You don’t have to read it.
“And that’s all I have to say about that” – Forrest Gump
Hand saw blade half derusted.
Hand saws derusted, yet to be sharpened…half way through a full tune-up
Freshly cut saw teeth…super sharp!
Super sharp. Every tool gets the same VIP treatment…EVERY tool.
Abused food processor blade
Ahhhh, nice and sharp again!
There are soooooo many more photos, too many for one post. You’ll just have to wait in suspense to chickity check (one, two, one, two) the rest. What? That’s “whickity whack” you say? Well…you’re not the boss of me, so you are just going to have to wait.
Knife handle replacement, half way, old and new meeting for the first time!
Knife handle replacement finished, hand made…nice
3 Knife handle replacements, rotten old handles…see ya later!
Since this blog has been created I have recieved 2 thats right 2 actual comments. By actual I mean, written by a real human about somthing that is actually in the post that they are commenting about. One was from my partner, and the other was from some guy (kinda about nothing but from what I can remember it was nice). I accidentally erased them both. My only real comments and I erased them like a dufus. So there was 2, 2 real ones and…..HUNDREDS of shady, deceptive, trolling backlink scumbag comments.
People who pay for some poor sucker in (blank) country to sit there and write nonsensical, generic crap as responses (which covertly contain a backlink to a “get slim in 24hrs while your penis (or breasts) gets bigger and your taxes get lower and women (or men) are uncontrolably attracted to you and your free ipad” site) can go get a dog up em!
Well, it has taken alot of personal motivation to get back on the horse and start writing again. I have just been too busy or tired or both to sit down and write. Now, I don’t know about you but once the ‘ol writing ball has slowed to a stop it can be very difficult for me to muster up the strength and willpower to get it rolling again. So what exactly has spured me on then? To tell the truth this post was going to be full of fact, opinion, frustration and a bit of finger pointing and bitching but I decided instead (since it was my first post in quite a while) to restart things on a positive note. But don’t worry, the angry post will be coming soon…believe me, it is just stewing away in my mind getting tastier and tastier…
It would be impossible for me to recap the entire inturum during my hiatus (if for no other reason than the fact that my memory is totally shot) so instead I will mention a few recent high points.
First high point…I decided to start taking days off. For the better part of the past year I worked seven days a week. That’s right no days off, 12-16 hour days for a year (and I thought I was getting away from the life sucking schedule of kitchens!). Market stalls on both saturday and sunday then on the road the other five days. “But why? You’re the boss, you set your own schedule” you say? Plain and simple…I am a workaholic, sort of. I think the term workaholic is a bit unfair in my case. I don’t do it because I am an addict I do it ….Because I love working and when I get to combine my love of working with my love of what I do…it’s all I want to do! (And I swear, I can quit any time I want to!) I often put it to people this way: What is your favorite thing to do? Well I get to do my favorite thing every day and get paid for it. But as with everything, too much of it can be bad and of course with all the time I spent working or doing work related things the other parts of my life suffered. So about a month ago I started taking days off and slowly, slowly, things are getting taken care of…my website for example. It is nice having these weekend things I had forgotten what they were like..
Second high point…I have started sharpening for the Essential Ingredient in Rozelle. I am their (sound trumpets) ”Official Sharpener”, which is great. I do a weekly sharpening service for them as well as onsite sharpening on the first saturday of every month. Everyone there is super friendly, great to work with and are genuinely concerned with being able to provide the best possible product and service possible…ahhhh people after my own heart! And…this is the really exciting part…I am going to teach a sharpening class through the Essential Cooking school as well! Super cool, I will get to blather on about one of my favorite subjects in the world to a captive audience for two whole hours!!! Oh the joy! The class will be both hands on (important but kind of whatever) and theory (really really important and not whatever at all). I can’t wait! For more info head over to the Essential Ingredient website.
Third highpoint….Through experimentation, trial and error and lot’s and lot’s of practice I have further refined my sharpening technique to be able to cut microbevels! Using only the highest possible abrasive (about 5000 grit) I have started cutting microbevels on particular types of tools. Pretty much every “impact” tool gets a microbevel, not every single one but nearly. By ”impact” I mean tool whose working nature either wholly or partly consists of some sort of impact to the edge. Chefs knives, cleavers, chisles, planer blades etc…I think you get the idea (or not). ”What is so freakin great about microbevels?” you ask. By cutting a microbevel the final cutting edge is strengthened by increasing the degree of included angle. For example, the geometry of a 40deg included angle(20deg bevel) is stronger and less likly to deform than a 30deg included angle (15deg bevel). The main benefit of microbevels is that a tool whose edge could normally only support a 40 or 50deg included angle (due to poor quality steel or tempering or both) can have a primary bevel cut to say 15-18deg (30-36deg included) and then a microbevel cut at 20-25deg (40-50 included) which provides the edge strength of 40-50deg and the cutting feel and efficiency of 30-36deg. I know, I know, 40-50deg isn’t as keen an edge as 30-36deg but well the fact is that some blades are crap and the steel they are made out of can only support a high degree bevel angle so being able to cut a microbevel allows for a bit of the best of both worlds. (Of course there is much much more to microbevels than this brief, crude and horribly incomplete explaination, but really, who wants to read all that boring sharpening nerd stuff!)
Lost most of you with that one didn’t I?…well stay tuned for more stuff spewing out of my brain, through my hands, into my computer, onto my website, through the interweb, into your computer then out the screen and through your eyes and finally into your brain…
In this repair I had to change the serrations because of the huge chip in the blade, came out pretty sweet!
New serrations measured out
Nothin like well cut serrations…mad skills!
I love sharpening serrated knives…
Pretty massive difference…