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Cuts like a knife, and it feels so right: where to sharpen your beloved blades in Vancouver

grayelf Jan 9, 2009 03:43 PM

Hi all:

Was just reading a horrendous sharpening tale on the SF Bay Area board and thought I'd ask for recommendations in the Lower Mainland. I've been using Knifex/mobile service after a disastrous foray to a local "tool" shop a few years ago. I fear I don't have the patience to learn how to do it myself with a stone which I think would net the best results. Any thoughts about an alternative?

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  1. fmed RE: grayelf Jan 9, 2009 04:25 PM

    I have taken my knives to Magnet Hardware on Commercial Dr. They did a pretty good job. Most of the time I do it myself...usually on a lazy Sunday (pretty rare nowadays). I just Zen out and sharpen for a couple of hours.

    9 Replies
    1. re: fmed
      Sam Salmon RE: fmed Jan 9, 2009 07:29 PM

      What about the new knife shop in Yaletown?


      1. re: Sam Salmon
        fmed RE: Sam Salmon Jan 9, 2009 07:50 PM

        I'm afraid to go in there.

        1. re: fmed
          grayelf RE: fmed Jan 9, 2009 09:04 PM

          Hmm, I think I would be too. I have a couple of vier sterne Henkels and a decent Sabatier bread saw but the rest of 'em are a bit of a motley crew (I love 'em all anyway) that might get the dead horse eye from the likes of Santoku.

          1. re: fmed
            peter.v RE: fmed Jan 10, 2009 12:55 AM

            After looking at the website, I think I might be too... and I own a couple Japanese knives! Some of the prices on the site are a wee bit ridiculous. I think I've seen custom Japanese forged one-of-a-kind pieces for less than their "Grand Chef Special Knives". I'm sure these Sakai knives are beautiful and functional, but I would be hesitant.

            Plus, if you've got European blades grayelf (like your Henckels or Sabatier), an exclusively Japanese shop may not be the optimal sharpening service for those knives!

            1. re: peter.v
              grayelf RE: peter.v Jan 10, 2009 07:16 AM

              Good point about the European-ness, peter, and thanks for gently correcting my bad spelling on Henckels :-).

              1. re: peter.v
                fmed RE: peter.v Jan 11, 2009 10:13 PM

                $820 for a knife is a bit much...the Student Models are more my speed. I already have a couple of inexpensive Japanese knives though.

                1. re: fmed
                  drinzy RE: fmed Apr 29, 2009 12:49 AM

                  An 800$ knife cuts like an 800$ knife.

                  If you can afford it and know how to maintain it it's worth it.

            2. re: Sam Salmon
              drinzy RE: Sam Salmon Apr 29, 2009 12:50 AM

              This place is way over-priced for what it is

            3. re: fmed
              maxmillan RE: fmed Jan 14, 2009 06:08 PM

              do they sharpen serrated bread knives?

            4. j
              jim bachinski RE: grayelf Jan 9, 2009 09:24 PM

              the lyrics are: "Now it cuts like a knife, But it feels so right" If you're trying to show how "hip" you are by making references to popular music, then: a) pick a song a little more contemporay, and b) get the lyrics right.

              8 Replies
              1. re: jim bachinski
                grayelf RE: jim bachinski Jan 9, 2009 10:22 PM

                Glad you know your Bryan Adams lyrics, jim, but until you can spell contemporary, it might be good not to be too picky about accuracy :-). Besides, have you never heard of poetic licence? Not hip but a long standing literary practice... peace.

                1. re: grayelf
                  jim bachinski RE: grayelf Jan 10, 2009 05:58 PM

                  good point greyelf. my apologies. it was more the song, which i hate, than it was your post.

                  1. re: jim bachinski
                    grayelf RE: jim bachinski Jan 11, 2009 03:13 PM

                    Apology accepted, jim. Just so you know, I'm an equal opportunity offender when it comes to fodder for post titles -- I've mangled song lyrics, book titles and quotes, popular sayings, all in the name of a punny or catchy tagline.

                    And FWIW, I think Bryan Adams is a better photographer than singer/songwriter -- never really been a fan of his music, though I grew up with it.

                    Back on topic: I've been trawling the net a bit for ideas and came across this:


                    Any thoughts from y'all?

                    1. re: grayelf
                      fmed RE: grayelf Jan 11, 2009 03:32 PM

                      I have something similar which uses two abrasive discs in a slot. Good for a quick and dirty refresh of a dull blade, but it will not replace a proper sharpening. It works well...just use a steel afterwards. Overuse (I hear) is not good for the blade.

                      1. re: fmed
                        Georgia Strait RE: fmed Dec 29, 2011 09:14 AM

                        this is an old thread but i want to say that i ruined my top-end Henckels by using that "drag thru'" device (which itself was Henckels). I never found that it sharpened anything well and if i held my knives up to the light, I could see ragged (like jagged) edges .... so I took my knives to my local locksmith in the neighbourhood and they are now all smoothed out. (ps - my dad is the best all-time stone sharpener ... find an old "hunting' neighbour and he'll know how to make a knife come back to life.)

                      2. re: grayelf
                        aburitoro RE: grayelf Jan 27, 2009 11:31 AM

                        I would avoid that device. Get some stones and a guide system instead, like an EdgePro Apex system. Here's a pretty good read on the topic:

                        If you want to take it to the next level, get some Japanese water stones in various grits. I have some up to 8000, which create a mirror finish shine on the blade edge.

                  2. re: jim bachinski
                    im_hungry RE: jim bachinski Jan 9, 2009 10:34 PM

                    Hey jim, there's nothing wrong with a Vancouverite trying to show some support for a hometown artist! Let's try to focus comments on food-related topics. No need to bash a fellow Chowhounder's taste in music.

                    1. re: jim bachinski
                      lunchslut RE: jim bachinski Jan 10, 2009 09:26 AM

                      Well JB, your claws seem to be sharpened to perfection...meeoOW!!

                    2. Sam Salmon RE: grayelf Jan 11, 2009 05:10 PM

                      So what's wrong with Knifex?

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: Sam Salmon
                        grayelf RE: Sam Salmon Jan 11, 2009 08:20 PM

                        The edge doesn't seem to last very long but I don't know enough about knives to know how long it should last.

                        1. re: grayelf
                          fmed RE: grayelf Jan 11, 2009 10:07 PM

                          Do you use a steel? Sometimes a quick edge straightening on a steel is all it needs. I'm assuming of course that you store your knives well and keep them out of the dishwasher.

                          1. re: fmed
                            grayelf RE: fmed Jan 12, 2009 07:52 AM

                            I do, usually before and after each use. Have a wooden knife block and woe betide the SO if I see a knife anywhere near the DW :-).

                            1. re: grayelf
                              yimster RE: grayelf Jan 14, 2009 07:03 AM

                              I would recommend that you learn to use a stone and the steel that normally comes with a good knife set.

                              I do not going to any shop to have my knifes sharpen.

                              Two reasons.

                              First some shop will have someone sharping your knife who does not know what they are doing. Your knifes can be ruined. I have seen that happen a lot of time.

                              Second a power shaper will remove too much steel, even when they know what they are doing.

                              If you use a stone and stick you will have a knife set that will last a life time.

                              It not that hard.

                              The DW is one of worst thing you can do to a knife.

                              1. re: yimster
                                grayelf RE: yimster Jan 14, 2009 05:15 PM

                                I'm going to break down and make a new year's resolution to learn how to use a stone and steel. Now all I have to do is find some good instructions -- anybody care to point me in the right direction for that??

                                1. re: grayelf
                                  yimster RE: grayelf Jan 14, 2009 05:31 PM

                                  Sure, but you have to come down to the Bay Area or I come up.. Arkansas soft stone is one of the best, then there are the China posts, and steel rods come with the set.

                                  Check out a Bass Pro Shape Catalog on line they have a good select of stones. Fishermen like shape knife. I will check out the catalog and see if anything fits your need. I am sure someone up your way can show you the ropes. I would hate for you wait for me to show up.

                                  One good thing about doing you own shaping you keep the knifes sharp and lose less steel. No kidding doing your own is the best way. It is not hard.

                                  1. re: yimster
                                    grayelf RE: yimster Jan 14, 2009 06:02 PM

                                    Thanks for the encouragement, yimster. Are you sure this isn't enough reason to head north again? :-)

                                    I am less worried about buying a stone than figuring out how to use it but it seems to be the way to go.

                                    1. re: grayelf
                                      yimster RE: grayelf Jan 14, 2009 06:18 PM

                                      Hey, if I can do it why not you. It is so easy I can do it. I will be there sooner then you think.

                                      I sure I can show you the trick.

                                      All you and fmed to do is set up a chowdown for us all.

                                      I am looking forward to a Canadian chowdown.

                                      Then I will have had chowdowns in Canadian, US and China.

                                      Who said I will not go anywhere for great food.

                                      1. re: yimster
                                        fmed RE: yimster Jan 14, 2009 08:21 PM

                                        eGullet has a pretty detailed post on sharpening here: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...
                                        It also shows pics of the fancy sharpeners which may end up on my Santa list. I just eyeball the angle and hope for the best.

                                        BTW Search for videos on YouTube. I just did a quick search and saw quite a number of how-tos.

                                        1. re: fmed
                                          Sam Salmon RE: fmed Jan 14, 2009 08:47 PM

                                          The Egullet tutorial is a good place to start.

                                          For Canucks Leevalley has a 1000 grit waterstone that's perfect

                                          and they also sell this gadget that's just the ticket once you're a pro you won't need it but it's worth owning definitely


                                          Those two are all I use now and all I need.

                                          Can't remember the last time I used my steel no need for one now so think before you shell out (diamond steels especially remove a lot of material).

                                          1. re: Sam Salmon
                                            prasantrin RE: Sam Salmon May 10, 2009 02:57 AM

                                            I know this is old, but Lee Valley in Winnipeg has knife sharpening workshops, so I wouldn't be surprised if the ones in the YVR area do, as well. They're just for a couple of hours, and are not too badly priced.

                                          2. re: fmed
                                            grayelf RE: fmed Jan 14, 2009 08:53 PM

                                            Holy moly, that's quite the tutorial. I got up to the first mention of geometry and then blacked out (kidding). Will have to set aside some time to read it properly. Thanks, fmed.

                        2. j
                          juddc RE: grayelf May 4, 2009 01:57 AM

                          Sharpening House
                          5331 West Boulevard, Vancouver

                          Terrific job. He does do serrated blades (bread knives etc) and is very reasonable - quick turnaround too. My knives are effing sharp! Also - worth a trip to drool over the Japanese steel on display.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: juddc
                            grayelf RE: juddc May 4, 2009 09:42 AM

                            Thanks, juddc -- noted. I've been sticking with my mobile guy for now but that is a great suggestion.

                            1. re: juddc
                              moltmonster RE: juddc May 7, 2009 11:38 AM

                              Hi all. I'm new in town - what a wonderful place to be! So many great foodie people and so much good foodie talk!
                              Juddc, I just called the Sharpening House, and the number was for the BC Liberal Campaign! Found another number for them through google but there was no leave a message for the Sharpening House, just "leave a message".
                              When was the last time you used them? Do you think I should just go there anyways?

                              1. re: moltmonster
                                eatrustic RE: moltmonster May 8, 2009 06:56 PM

                                Good news for sharpening in Vancouver as Santoku Office who specialize in high end Japanese Chef knives have just started a sharpening service and knife repair. They use excellent quality water stones as well as a water wheel.

                                I haven't used them yet but the owner is a former chef and barring any serious incompetence this should be the best place in town for well sharpened knives with the minimum of steel removed.
                                Here is their link: http://www.santoku-office.com/index.p...

                                1. re: eatrustic
                                  grayelf RE: eatrustic May 8, 2009 09:08 PM

                                  Nice lead, eatrustic -- I wonder how hard they would laugh at my beloved but hardly top end loppers :-). I note their prices are about double what I am paying now but they seem pretty reasonable once you factor in it's being done by hand here.

                                  1. re: grayelf
                                    eatrustic RE: grayelf May 8, 2009 11:38 PM

                                    I doubt they would laugh, unless they were Ginzu knives. I'm sure they would advise you of the limitations of your knives to hold an edge if they were really cheap.......but once they get you in the door and you start to drool over the candy......
                                    I also like the fact that they will teach you how to use the stones properly if you want to go it on your own.

                                    1. re: eatrustic
                                      moltmonster RE: eatrustic May 9, 2009 11:22 AM

                                      Thanks for the info eatrustic! I'll give them a go.

                                2. re: moltmonster
                                  juddc RE: moltmonster Oct 24, 2009 12:34 AM

                                  Better late than never - last used them around April May '09. I'd just drop in if the number isn't working.

                                  1. re: moltmonster
                                    wgomer RE: moltmonster Dec 21, 2011 11:18 AM

                                    Just to update this topic, Sharpening House is still open and he does an exceptional job for a reasonable price. If you are buying knives you should take a look at paulsfinest.com before dropping $800.

                                3. h
                                  hrhsheba RE: grayelf May 4, 2009 09:55 AM

                                  on a related note.... is there anything that can be done with a "tipped" knife? A friend accidentally took a 3mm triangle off the tip off my favorite Sabatier. :(

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: hrhsheba
                                    fmed RE: hrhsheba May 4, 2009 04:35 PM

                                    You can have it reground down to a santoku style tip like this:

                                    I'm sure a competent sharpener can do that for you.

                                  2. j
                                    jchaput RE: grayelf May 5, 2009 01:33 AM

                                    I've used a chef's choice electric sharpener at home for years. They are very easy to use, and they make your knife very sharp.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: jchaput
                                      vandan RE: jchaput Oct 24, 2009 10:42 AM

                                      out of curiousity where would one buy such a fancy contraption?

                                      1. re: vandan
                                        yimster RE: vandan Oct 24, 2009 03:23 PM

                                        Buy something not electric. A hand unit will save a lot of steel. The electric sharpener take off too much metal and the life of the knife will be greatly shorten.

                                        1. re: vandan
                                          fmed RE: vandan Oct 24, 2009 03:28 PM

                                          I have seen it at (IIRC) Gourmet Warehouse (but quite a while ago now). You can order online from Paul's Finest: http://www.paulsfinest.com/manufactur...

                                          1. re: vandan
                                            sarahendipity RE: vandan Oct 24, 2009 06:53 PM

                                            I got one at Costco, they seem to show up sometimes. I think I last saw them at the downtown one.

                                        2. LotusRapper RE: grayelf Dec 21, 2011 12:32 PM

                                          I do my own sharpening, via my Henckels steel.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: LotusRapper
                                            fmed RE: LotusRapper Dec 29, 2011 10:28 AM

                                            The "steeling" step happens after a sharpening. Steeling merely straightens the burrs at the edge. You should still sharpen with a stone (etc) once in a while.

                                          2. RandyB RE: grayelf Dec 29, 2011 09:58 AM

                                            The go-to guy for sharpening used to be Bob Kramer in Bellingham, not so far from Vancouver. Unfortunately, he's now only making custom knives, with orders backed up for years. His classic knives have sold for over $5000 on eBay. He did wicked sharpening in those old days.

                                            Kramer's protégé is Bob Tate. He's in Seattle but works by mail Reasonable prices for the quality of his work. I don't know how it would work cross border. http://seattleknifesharpening.com/

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: RandyB
                                              fmed RE: RandyB Dec 29, 2011 10:25 AM

                                              I didn't realize that Bob Kramer was in Bellingham! His knifes are beautiful works of art. I'd hate to actually use them.

                                              1. re: fmed
                                                Sam Salmon RE: fmed Dec 29, 2011 05:14 PM

                                                Kramer has a great section on his website about sharpening you own knives.


                                                His work looks something like a high end version of Cosmo Knives from Saltspring Island.


                                                1. re: Sam Salmon
                                                  Ham_Danhuis RE: Sam Salmon Jan 15, 2012 04:24 PM

                                                  Great link, thanks for that!

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