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Jun 9, 2008 06:45 AM

Del Re Knife Truck

Although I periodically sharpen my knives at home with a wet stone, I always wanted to get them professionally sharpened by one of the knife trucks that seems to mysteriously appear and then disappear (I've never been able to pin-point a predictable schedule). For years I've longingly smiled at the clanging trucks as it weaved in and out of our streets hoping one day all the variables would come together so that one day I could have my Henckels knives returned to their straight from Williams-Sonoma shininess.

And yesterday, that day finally arrived . . . While I was dusting my floors, I heard the gentle clang of the knife truck coming down my street and when I popped my head outside the window I saw the driver park the red truck a houses away (I haven’t seen the other one with the Warner Bros. cartoon characters in years). I ran outside and asked Mr. Del Re (the name is painted on the truck) what he charged and he replied, "I have to see the knives," in a low terse Italian tenor. I had to give myself a minute to decided whether or not the man was rude, or was just having a bad day (it was steamy yesterday and I’m sure his truck was a mini-sauna), or just not chatty fellow. Deciding that it was a combination of the latter two, I ran back home and grabbed the wooden knife stand that housed my three Henkel knife set (chef, boning, carving; all about 8 inches). After waiting a few minutes while he tended to a lawn mower, Mr. Del Re glanced at my knives and replied it would cost me $35. And while I didn’t know what other’s charge to sharpen knives, I got the feeling that $35 was steep although I do realize you pay a premium for instant, at-your-door service, not to mention the “quaint” factor. But $35 for 3 (8-10 inch) knives?

And now that I know other businesses charge as little as $3 a knife and as up to $1 per inch (most places also require you to leave your knives), at this point, I really should have taken my knives back home to sharpen them myself (just as my dad taught me), but because I had of all this accumulated yen to have my knives sharpened by an old fashioned grinder, I left my knives in his care while I walked to my local bank to get some cash.

Two minutes later when I returned, he was finished.

And one minute later I was back home to inspect the grinder’s work . . .

I have never had my knives professionally sharpened and I don’t know what they’re supposed to look like, but I’m sure the angle of blade should be uniform, which it was not as the end by the handle of my chef’s knife seemed to have gotten in Mr. Del Re’s way and was shaved off a wee bit too much. But aesthetics aside, I then took out a head of cabbage (I would have preferred a tomato) expecting it to feel like I was cutting into softened butter . . .

But, as in most cases when I over romanticize something, my expectations weren’t met and the romance is now over. While my knives were sharper, they weren’t much sharper.

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  1. $35 for at your door, instant service seems fair to me.

    What neighborhood was this in?

    2 Replies
    1. re: irishnyc

      Park Slope

      I was convenient. And still a chraming experience.

      1. re: ymaluv

        Chef's Choice Model 130 (not the 110 or 120). Sells for $150 bucks or so, but has the advantage of convenience plus the ability to hone an edge on just about anything. Charm, I can't afford it.

    2. I posted here a few years back about a horrible experience with a roving knife sharpener in Manhattan. A green truck. Buyer beware!

      1 Reply
      1. re: erica

        I also posted here a few years ago about having my knives pretty much ruined by one of the 2 trucks (there's a red one and a green one).

        Since the guy I had had no Italian accent and lived on Staten Island and took over from his Father I think I had the other truck.

        Bottom line: stay away from these trucks.

      2. Green truck. I showed him a small pairing knife, and my best buddy, my Global chef's knife. He said, "$18". I said, "Late". My steel works great. Has anyone taken knives to their local butcher? Sounds like a simple procedure for them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: The Vapors

          Yes I have done that. But my local butcher charged $5 per knife about 5 years ago. A friend of mine has a small device from a hardware store (I think) that he swears fit the knife between two angled blades. I tried it and it seems to work very well. Can anyone imagine what I am trying to describe? It costs only a few dollars and is not electric.

        2. I have used Del Re's red truck for years and have always been happy. I recently paid $35 for 4 knives (10" chefs, 8" boning, 4 inch pairing and 4 inch Santouku). It is the green truck that people should stay away from (although I have not seen that truck in the last few years). I have also seen Del Re's truck up on the Upper East Side.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mike1213

            I subjected my knives to the Auto da Fe of Del Re once, partly for the novelty but mostly because I had dull-ass knives. Can't remember exactly what he charged me but I think it was about $5-$7 per blade. He brought a very special boning knife back from the dead for me and I'm grateful for that, but I remember thinking when I saw my chef's knife that there was an awful lot of steel missing and there'd be nothing left of the old girl after a couple more trips through his grinder.

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