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Jan 9, 2009 03:43 PM

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

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. 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

          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

            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

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

              1. re: peter.v

                $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

                  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

              This place is way over-priced for what it is

            3. re: fmed

              do they sharpen serrated bread knives?

            4. 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

                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

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

                  1. re: jim bachinski

                    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

                      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

                        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

                        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

                    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

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

                      1. re: Sam Salmon

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  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

                                    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

                                      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

                                        eGullet has a pretty detailed post on sharpening here:
                                        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

                                          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

                                            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

                                            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. 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

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

                            1. re: juddc

                              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

                                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:

                                1. re: eatrustic

                                  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

                                    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

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

                                2. re: moltmonster

                                  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

                                    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 before dropping $800.

                                3. 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

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

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